In John 5:1-14 we read about a guy that I am increasingly convinced gets a bad wrap from modern day church folk. For one, His life gets bound up in theological discussions based upon what Jesus says to him after his healing (see verse 14). For two, he gets brushed off as a bit whiny (see verses 5-7). But I’ve gotta tell ya, if I’m him, I’m thinking I would have been a bit whiny too (ask my wife).
For thirty-eight years this fella hasn’t walked. At some point in his life he hears about this sort of fountain of youth where all of the sick folk go to get healed. (Healing televangelists have nothing on this fountain.) Rumor has it that an angel goes down into the pool and stirs the water. And according to the text, the first one to get into the pool wins. I would like to avoid the theological conjecture as to whether or not this could really happen or if it was connected to a stream that produced medicinal properties, etc. Bottom line, this system is a problem because he can’t move as quickly as the others. As a result, he never gets in and leaves the same way he came.
Now, I realize that the text doesn’t tell us how many times this fella has attempted to get into the pool, but I would imagine this day wasn’t his first try. I would think that over the course of 38 years of suffering (interesting that the text would make this point), he had been there at least a few times before. Yet, time after time he is reminded that his inability to move makes him utterly incapable of changing his situation. And here is why I like this guy: he still showed up. I would like to think that he kept showing up, time after time. Sure, he whined. He even complained. But he kept showing up.
What if on that day he decided to call it quits? I wouldn’t blame him.
What if on that day he let his inability to change his own situation get the best of him? At least he could say he tried.
What if on that day he allowed his previous experience with all those other selfish people turn him into a cynic, and throw up his hands in frustration? After all, enough is enough.
What if on that day he decided not to show up? Well, he would have missed his miracle. He would have missed restoration. He would have even missed Jesus.
Whether or not my reading of the text has any contextual merit or not, I’ll let you be the judge. But the very thought of it messes with me. It messes with me because there are times I want to call it quits. There are times when my inability to change a situation causes me to want to give up. There are even times when people demonstrate actions so far from what they claim to believe that I want to throw my hands up in the air, write them off, and shout, “Enough is enough!” Then I think of this guy. He whines like me. Complains like me. He is discouraged like me. But he keeps showing up. And because he chose to show up at least one more time, he met Jesus.
This story forces me to remember that even though I grow sick and tired of things, people, situations and even my own whiny complaints, Jesus would never quit me. Actually, I don’t think He would ever quit anyone. In the gospels He is always making his way to the places where sick and tired folk show up. And as long as the sick and tired folk keep showing up, they will soon leave healed and stronger.
I don’t know where you’ve been or where you are. I don’t know your situation. But I know this: Jesus isn’t into quitting you. His table has been set and your seat saved. Trust that. Hold onto hope and keep showing up. Jesus will meet you there.
About Fred: He’s a follower of Jesus, husband, father, son, brother, friend & lead minister at Williamsburg Christian Church (WCC).
Personal thought: I met Fred on Twitter and later on with Chris Chappotin we were fortunate to Tweet-up at Hard Eight BBQ in Coppell, TX. The first thing that struck me about Fred was his gentle spirit and firm resolve in Christ. Fred keeps me on my toes theologically, and I need that often. He understands the problems of Christendom, yet he sees the silver-lining of hope that can direct people onto a missional trajectory. I admire his desire to shepherd the folks at WCC on a missional journey. It’s not easy to do, but Fred is the perfect dude for that challenge. I’m grateful he’s my brother.
You can follow him on Twitter.
Checkout Fred’s blog: Inside This Guys Head
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