The Gospel of John: Apathetic Superstition, Part 2.

“So the Jews said to the man who had been healed, “It is the Sabbath, and it is not lawful for you to take up your bed.” But he answered them, “The man who healed me, that man said to me, ‘Take up your bed, and walk.’ ” They asked him, “Who is the man who said to you, ‘Take up your bed and walk’?” Now the man who had been healed did not know who it was, for Jesus had withdrawn, as there was a crowd in the place. Afterward Jesus found him in the temple and said to him, “See, you are well! Sin no more, that nothing worse may happen to you.” The man went away and told the Jews that it was Jesus who had healed him. And this was why the Jews were persecuting Jesus, because he was doing these things on the Sabbath. But Jesus answered them, “My Father is working until now, and I am working.” This was why the Jews were seeking all the more to kill him, because not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God.” (John 5:10-18)

John begins to show us the different responses by people to the signs and wonders Jesus performed. In John 4:46-54, the response was heartfelt belief. In John 5:1-9, and in 5:10-18 it was apathetic superstition.

What was the invalid man’s response to Jesus Christ who healed him? Was there any gratitude, any worship or even an expression of thanksgiving? There is none found in the text.

What we do see are the religious leaders of the day (more about them tomorrow) questioning the man as to why he was carrying his bed or sleeping mat. The man’s response is matter of fact. “The man who healed me, that man said to me, ‘Take up your bed, and walk.’ ” John even adds the disclaimer that the healed man did not even know who Jesus was or even His name.

The text continues by saying that later on, perhaps even that very same day, Jesus found the man at the temple. Was the man there to give thanks to God for his healing? Was he there to be examined by the priests? Was he there to offer a sacrifice? We do not know.

What we do know is Jesus said to him, “See, you are well! Sin no more, that nothing worse may happen to you.” Jesus’ words may indicate the man’s suffering was due to some sinful behavior in the past. Jesus cautions the man to pay careful attention when tempted to sin in the future. Something worse than being an invalid for close to four decades could happen. What could be worse? Total rejection by God due to a lack of repentance and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. However, the healed man displays no such repentance or faith in the person of Jesus Christ.

One commentator says, “Note that Jesus selects the lame man out of a crowd of many people who were unwell. He exercised His sovereign prerogative to heal when and where He would choose, thus asking only the man if he wanted to be healed (John 5:6). It is also notable that there is almost no indication that the man had faith in Christ when Jesus healed him. Later verses state that he did not know who Jesus was at the time of his healing, and he later reported Jesus’ activities to the authorities who were out to accuse Him of sin (vv. 12–13, 15). That Jesus asked the man if he wanted to be healed may also imply a lack of faith on the man’s part or at least that he did not know who Jesus was. Anyone familiar with the pool and those gathered there, as Jesus no doubt was, would have known that an invalid such as the lame man came to the pool for healing. Some commentators suggest that Jesus was probing a little deeper, asking the man not about mere physical healing but for healing from his sin (see v. 14), though it is hard to be certain of this.”

God gives us daily blessings. Are we aware of these many blessings, including our eternal salvation? Do we take the time to thank God for not only what He has done, but also Who He is? Or, do we take Him for granted and only approach Him when we are in need and then forget Him when the need is met, or criticize Him when it is not. Let us not follow the example of the invalid who Jesus healed. May we not only place our faith in Jesus Christ to save us but also daily thank Him for that salvation.

Examine your heart today for any apathy or disinterest you may have towards God. Repent of it and ask God to increasingly give you a heart which is grateful to Him and not apathetic.

Soli deo Gloria!  




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