I am honored and humbled to be invited to speak at upcoming Baptist Women’s Banquet. These women do some amazing mission work! If you are in the Charlotte area, please come out and support their ministry.
When Jesus saw him lying there and knew that he had already been there a long time, he said to him, “Do you want to be healed?” John 5:6
Now there is in Jerusalem by the Sheep Gate a pool, in Aramaic called Bethesda, which has five roofed colonnades. In these lay a multitude of invalids—blind, lame, and paralyzed. One man was there who had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him lying there and knew that he had already been there a long time, he said to him, “Do you want to be healed?” The sick man answered him, “Sir, I have no one to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up, and while I am going another steps down before me.” Jesus said to him, “Get up, take up your bed, and walk.” And at once the man was healed, and he took up his bed and walked. Now that day was the Sabbath. (John 5:2-9)
Does the question Jesus asked the man at Bethesda surprise you? Shouldn’t the answer be obvious? This man has suffered for nearly 40 years, surely he wanted to be healed!
The man was likely as surprised by Jesus’ question as we were. Rather than answer the question, he began to make excuses and we can almost hear the sarcasm in his voice – “Of course I want to be healed, if I didn’t I wouldn’t keep coming back here year after year. You don’t seem to understand my circumstances. Look at me. I’m crippled, it’s a long way down to the pool, and there are all these other people who can move a lot faster than I can.”
The sick man answered him, “Sir, I have no one to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up, and while I am going another steps down before me.” (John 5:7)
Almost as if he didn’t hear the man, Jesus pressed on.
Jesus said to him, “Get up, take up your bed, and walk.” (John 5:8)
Like the crippled man, we get it into our minds that God’s power is limited by our circumstances. That’s wrong thinking. Even when our faith fails, God does not. Look closely at the sequence in the next verse.
And at once the man was healed, and (then) he took up his bed and walked. (John 5:9)
Throughout His ministry, Jesus asked many “Do You” questions. The questions He asked in ages past are relevant for us today. They are questions that each of us must answer for ourselves.
When we need faith
“But who do you say that I am?” (Matthew 16:15)
“Why do you question these things in your hearts?” (Mark 2:8)
When we need help
“What do you want me to do for you?” (Matthew 20:32)
“Do you believe that I am able to do this?” (Matthew 9:28)
When we need answers
“Do you not understand?” (Mark 4:13)
“Whom do you seek?” (John 18:4)
“ do you love me more than these?” (John 21:15)
Thinking back on all the “do you” questions Jesus has asked me through the years, I realize how often I gave excuses instead of answers. Like the man in these passages, there have been many times that I was crippled by past experiences and overcome by present circumstances; there still are. I’m so glad that God is not a God of circumstances, aren’t you?
That day of the year when all the excitement, anticipation, and expectation of the recent weeks comes to fruition.
Families and friends will gather. Songs will be sung. Stories will be told. Gifts will be exchanged. Meals will be shared. Common family traditions, held each Christmas season to honor of the memories of Christmases past and to hold on to the hope of those that are to come.
Friends and family have left to go back to their homes and their own celebrations. With the last good-bye the voices and laughter are gone, replaced by an unwelcomed quiet.
The beautiful bows and wrappings lie crumpled on the floor. The sink is piled with dishes. Only a couple glasses and some used napkins remain on the table as a reminder of the meal that was lovingly prepared and excitedly enjoyed. The Lady makes her way back to the kitchen, to the pots and pans waiting there for her. She will stand at her sink and wash each one; almost with the same love as when she filled them with the makings of the meal she prepared just hours earlier. And, as she does so, she reflects and remembers other years, other Christmas meals. There are some tears but mostly smiles. More likely than not, a chuckle or two as she recalls a funny word or the antics of a child.
With the last pot scrubbed and put away and the dish towels hung to dry, she will look around, hoping to spot something more to do; not yet ready for her hands or her mind to be idle. She is not ready for the total silence she knows is waiting for her – not yet. Just as with the shopping, decorating, gift-wrapping and all the planning, this is part of her own Christmas Tradition. It is a tradition handed down from her mother and her mother before her. More than any of the traditions, this is the one most difficult to let go of, because it is the one that bonds her to her cherished memories of Christmases past.
But, as with all days, this one too must finally be allowed to end. The Lady takes the stairs toward the world of sleep. With her head resting on the pillow, she realizes, with some surprise, just how tired she is. A few more moments of reflection lead her to offer up a prayer of praise and gratitude for her many blessings and a petition for her loved ones; especially those far away or for some other reason were missing from the celebration.
At last, though somewhat reluctantly, she gives in to the quiet and allows the sleep to come. As her mind drifts into it’s slumber, one final thought remains – “will there be another”?
Merry Christmas 2018