A matter of perspective...

I was reading John chapter 5 today, and I came to the story of a man that Jesus healed beside the pool of Bethesda. This pool was near the Sheep Gate and is said to have "five roofed colonnades. In these lay a multitude of invalids—blind, lame, and paralyzed." (This is a picture of the ruins of this pool in Israel today.) Jesus approached a man who had been an invalid there for 38 years and asked him if he wanted to be healed. Now this pool at Bethesda was thought to have healing properties - it was believed that an angel came to stir the waters and the first person into the water would be healed. So when Jesus asked this man if he wanted healing, his answer was more of an excuse than a yes or no. He said that he had no one to help him into the water and someone else always made it there before him. But that's not what Jesus asked him.

Jesus healed the man despite his lack of an affirmative answer. But the day of the healing was a Sabbath day, and Jesus had told the man to pick up his bed and walk.

While the man was on his way, some Jewish leaders stopped him and told him it wasn't lawful for him to carry his bed on the Sabbath. The man's response was, "The man who healed me, that man said to me, 'Take up your bed, and walk.'"

The Jews asked who had healed him and told him to carry his bed? (In other words, who told him to break the Sabbath?)

The man didn't know. But later Jesus found him and told him, "See, now you are well. Sin no more that nothing worse may happen to you."

Seems to me that the man might stop to ponder that for just a moment. While Jesus clearly stated at other times in Scripture that bad things don't always happen as consequences for our sins - in this case, it sounds like he might have been making that suggestion. But this guy doesn't seem to get the message. Instead of thanking Jesus for healing him or gratefully following Him from that point on, the Bible says, he went back to find the Jewish leaders to tell them it was Jesus who had healed him.

And then John adds this thought, "And this was why the Jews were persecuting Jesus, because he was doing these things on the Sabbath."

So instead of a man grateful and humbled by Jesus' gracious healing, he turned around and contributed to the persecution that Jesus suffered at the hands of the Jewish leaders.


It's easy to look at this story in hindsight and think of what the man should have done. But I wonder how many times I look at the good things in my life through the wrong lens, with the wrong perspective. And instead of being grateful and pondering what lessons God might have to teach me, do I make excuses or justify myself to please others rather than God?

In the end, it's a matter of perspective...and unfortunately, the invalid at the pool of Bethesda had the wrong one. While he was healed in body, he was probably not healed in heart.