Morning Moments

with Sandra Bivens Smith


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Do You?

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)

Every day

“ 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?

~Sandra

 


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Parting Thoughts

“Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”  

            “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.”

            “Woman, behold, your son!”  “Behold, your mother!”

 Read the final words of Jesus.  Think about all He had suffered, just before He spoke them.  In the garden, sweating blood as He anticipated the agony of what lay ahead.  The betrayal of His closest friends.  Merciless beatings, severe enough in and of themselves, to have caused His death.  Scorn from those, who just days earlier, had honored and praised Him as their king.  The humiliation of being mocked, spit upon, and stripped naked.  The torture of being nailed to a cross and finally, bearing the full sin of all mankind upon His sinless body.

Read Jesus’ words again.  Do you see it?  At His height of suffering, Jesus prays for the ones who drove the nails into His feet and hands.  In the midst of His agony, He offers eternal assurance to a repentant man.  He ignores His horrific pain, to insure His Mother will be cared for.

 It is only after He has seen to the needs of others that He turns His attention to His own suffering.

“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

            “I thirst.”

Even then, as Christ desperately cries out to His Father, I can’t help but wonder if He wasn’t thinking about us.  Are there any of us who have not, at some time in our lives, called out to God “why have you abandoned me”?  Haven’t all of us been through a dry season and longed for a cool stream to refresh our parched spirits.

Jesus’ pleas were heard.  And so are ours as He declared, once and for all…

“It is finished”

Nothing more to be done.  Nothing else needed  All the requirements fulfilled.

Final words, final assurance.

“Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!” 

To anyone who has ever stood by the bed of a loved one as they took their final breath, these are words of comfort.  They promise us that He who knit us in our Mother’s womb is there, waiting to receive our spirit.  These words confirm that Jesus has defeated death.  We can have confidence that His spirit, having returned to the Father, will live eternally and so will ours.  In this final statement, we have God’s ultimate promise and our ultimate hope.

At no other time in recorded scripture do we see Jesus’ humanity so evidently revealed.  In the final hours at Calvary, we see Jesus, fully God, fully man.  The One who knew no sin, became the embodiment of sin.

Seven statements from the cross. Parting thoughts.   Thoughts of you and me.

In Jesus’ last words, we have the entire gospel message.  The message of forgiveness, eternal life, love for one another, His righteousness imparted to us.  It is a message important enough for Jesus to die for; shouldn’t it be important enough for us to live for?  Knowing He did all this for us, how can we do less for Him?

Blessings,

~Sandra


Father, never let us forget what the Easter season is really about.  Keep us mindful of the horrors of the cross and the sufferings we have been spared because Jesus suffered for us.  Always remind us that even in His final hours, we were never far from Jesus’ thoughts.  Above all, place deep within our minds the truth of the victory that was won for us that day at Calvary; and deep within our hearts a desire to share the message with those who remain lost.  Amen.


Christ died so we can live.  His sacrifice at Calvary is for everyone who will come and follow Him.  Have you made that commitment?  Have you knelt at the foot of the cross and surrendered your heart to the One Who died for your sins?  If you haven’t, there will never be a better time than now.

All you need to do is pray:

Confess to Jesus that you are a sinner who needs salvation

Believe in your heart that He is only One who can save you

 Ask Jesus to forgive your sins

Surrender your life and your will to Him

Ask Him give you a new heart, and a new spirit

because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.  Romans 10:9