Who does that?
I had the great privilege on sitting in on a bible study. The person leading the study was exploring the episode of the man who was paralysed at the pool of Bethesda for 38 years. Now that particular episode has a great deal of significance for me because of the challenge in it of not looking to the water to do the healing and not looking to excuses to get the breakthrough but see that Jesus is able to bring the needed change.
When I’ve considered the story, I’ve always been fascinated by the man who was paralysed. I was fascinated that he couldn’t answer a straight question, but saw it as a time to justify his behaviour. I was fascinated by how he was quick to forget the guy who did the healing other than to use him as an excuse when he came under the cosh.
Yet the person leading the bible study reminded me that the focus of the story, as with the focus of the book, as with the focus of the entire Bible is not on the man – it’s on Jesus.
That guy leading the study asked such an acute question: Would you heal someone who will behave in a way that leads to your death?
Come on – who does that?
Let’s be real on here. If you looked at someone who was paralysed and they were coming up with excuses for their condition … and you knew that helping them would lead to your being persecuted to death – would you heal that person? Would you? Really?
Come on – who does that?
Jesus does that. That’s who. And why would He do something like that? Because He enters a world where His own would reject Him. He enters a world where people are self-absorbed and defensive when challenged about their condition and primarily concerned about self-preservation when the tough times hit. He enters this world to do the amazing, the wondrous and the miraculous, not for show, but for a sign of what the rule of God looks like. He enters the world so that those who are self-absorbed and defensive can be delivered from that predisposition.
He does that so we can see mercy in action and recognise if we really desire to be like Him, we will extend that mercy to others as well. If we really desire to be like Him, we will look at the need in front of us and address it in His name. Not condoning or endorsing self-absorbed and self-obsessed mentalities – rather celebrating and promoting the rule of God where life is about extending mercy to others even as we are in receipt of it.
So it is only because Jesus behaves in this way, that those who follow Him are able to do so. It is only as we’re able to see His example of humility, meekness, purity, mercy, righteousness in the effort to make peace, that we can look at anyone, regardless of what they’re likely to do to us and show them the love of Christ.
Who does that? Jesus does it. And by His grace, shall we?
For His Name’s Sake
C. L. J. Dryden