Finding Community In the Company of the Discontened

Today’s selected reading continues in the New Testament gospel account of the life and ministry of Jesus Christ as written and recorded by the beloved physician Luke. More specifically, today’s passage is found in the first twelve verses of the twelfth chapter. When you come to this particular portion of scripture you will once more find Jesus in the midst of and in the thick of a great crowd of people. On this particular occasion, however, the crowd which was before and around Him was so thick that they actually began trampling over one another. Pause for a moment and consider this scene if you will, as countless men and women are seeking to draw near to Jesus in order that they might hear His words and perhaps even witness Him heal those who were sick, and perhaps even drive out unclean spirits of devils. I can’t help but think of how many of the men and women which were present on this day had gathered themselves before and around Him in order that they might catch a glimpse of the One whom they had heard so much about. Undoubtedly the report and fame of Jesus had begun spreading within and throughout the land and region, and as a direct result of this fame, it drew the crowds and masses of people from the surrounding cities, towns and villages. I get the strong sense that the great crowd of people which gathered before and around Jesus the Christ were on the one seeking to be spectators of His glory and power, while others were actually seeking to hear His words and perhaps even participate in the mighty works He performed among men. Please note that by participate in the mighty works I mean experience healing and deliverance within their lives. In the crowds before and around Jesus there will always be spectators and there will always be participants. In fact, I would dare say that not every one who gathered before and around Jesus did so in order that they might actively participate in the mighty works which He was doing. There are those who would gather before and gather around Jesus solely in order that they might witness some great miracle, or witness some great act which He would perform among them within the land. There would be those who would walk with and follow Jesus, and their sole interest in doing so was to be a spectator of all that they had perhaps heard spoken of by those around them within the land.

As I sit here this morning thinking about and considering the great crowd and multitude of people which was before and around Jesus on this particular occasion, I can’t help but find the concept of men and women actually trampling one another in their pursuit of walking with and being near Jesus the Christ. I can’t help but look at this passage of scripture and quite possibly see a picture of men and women who in their attempt to walk with and follow Jesus actually trample down this before and around them. There are those who would walk with and follow Jesus, and in their attempt to walk with and follow Jesus they actually find themselves being inconsiderate of the needs which are before and around them. There are those who would seek to walk with and follow Jesus—perhaps as spectators, and perhaps as those who would seek to see Jesus for the first time—and in their pursuit of Jesus they give absolutely no care or concern for those who are before and around them. Such individuals are aware of those around them, and yet they are focused on themselves and themselves alone, and pay absolutely no attention to the ones who are around them. Imagine being part of the crowd which was before and around Jesus and witnessing as men and women trample each other in order that they might get and come as close to Jesus as they possibly could. There is a part of me that can’t help but get the strong sense that the crowd which was before and around Jesus on this particular day was one that was perhaps made up of those who had their own agenda. I can’t help but read this passage of scripture and get the sense that this crowd was made up of those who had their own agenda with Christ and their own agenda in following Jesus, and they were willing to do anything and everything to accommodate their own pursuit and their own agenda. Such men and women who gathered themselves before and around Jesus Christ were those who were genuine and authentic in their pursuit of Him, while there are others who have absolutely no concern and regard for anyone who is around them. They are focused on themselves and themselves alone, and they care very little about anyone who exists outside of their own world and sphere of influence.

I’m sitting here this morning and I can’t help but be reminded of the account of the lame, the crippled, the sick, the diseased, and all those who spent their days and nights at a certain pool within the land of Judaea. In the fifth chapter of the New Testament gospel of John we find and read the account of a certain pool called Bethesda before which countless lame, crippled and infirm men and women dwelt in order they they might receive their healing and deliverance. The apostle John writes and records within this passage of scripture how there were countless men and women who were positioned before and around the pool because at a certain time an angel would come down and trouble the waters. Whoever entered into the waters when the angel troubled them would be immediately healed of whatever disease and infirmity they had within their physical bodies. I am sure there were those who were lame, those who were crippled, and those who were paralyzed in their physical bodies, and as a result could not easily and quickly make it into the waters. There would be others who had full mobility in their legs, in their calves and in their ankles and feet who would be able to themselves rush toward the pool in order that they might receive healing within their physical bodies. Oh I can’t help but wonder what it was like when the angel came down upon the waters and troubled them and that that sight was like. What was it like when the angel came down from heaven and troubled the waters, and what was the indication that the waters were themselves being troubled. Was it that evident and that obvious that the waters had been troubled, and as a result of knowing the waters had been troubled, many of those who were at the pool sought to rush toward the pool in order to enter into the waters. I would imagine there would be a mad rush toward the waters of the pool as men and women would attempt to move ahead of and move in front of those who were around them. After all—their need was more important than the need(s) of those who were before and around them. There is not a doubt in my mind that once the waters were troubled, there would be a scene of sheer chaos and pandemonium as men and women would do whatever they could in order that they might enter into the waters first. WHO’S GOING TO ENTER INTO THE WATERS FIRST? WHO’S GOING TO MAKE IT INTO THE WATERS BEFORE OTHERS? Oh how I can’t help but be incredibly curious what this scene would be like at the pool of Bethesda as men and women would seek to be the first to enter into the waters once they were troubled. Consider if you will the words which are found in the fifth chapter of the New Testament gospel of John concerning this pool of Bethesda and the community of the crippled, and the community of the lame which was before and around it. Beginning with the first verse of the fifth chapter of this New Testament gospel you will find the following words which describe the scene at this pool:

“After this there was a feast of the Jews; and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. Now there is at Jerusalem by the sheep market a pool, which is called in Hebrew tongue Bethesda, having five porches. IN these lay a great multitude of impotent folk, of blind, halt, withered, waiting for the moving of the water. For an angel went down at a certain season into the pool, and troubled the water: whosoever then first after the troubling of the water stepped in was made whole of whatsoever disease he had. And a certain man was there, which Han an infirmity thirty and eight years. When Jesus saw Him lie, and knew that he had been now a long time in that case, He saith unto him, Wilt thou be made whole? The impotent man answered him, Sir, I have no man, when the water is troubled, to put me into the pool: but while I am coming, another steppeth down before me. Jesus saith unto him, Rise, take up thy bed, and walk. And immediately the man was made whole, and took up his bed, and walked: and on the same day was the sabbath. The Jews therefore said unto him that was cured, It is the sabbath day: it is not lawful for thee to carry thy bed. He answered them, He that made me whole, the same said unto me, Take up thy bed, and walk. Then asked they him, What man is that which said unto thee, Take up thy bed and walk? And he that was healed wrist not who it was: for Jesus had conveyed himself away, a multitude being in that place. Afterward Jesus findeth him in the temple, and said unto him, Behold, thou art made whole: sin no more, lest a worse thing come unto thee. The man departed, and told the Jews that it was Jesus, which had made him whole” (John 5:1-15).

Before I get into the subject of what could very well have been madness and pandemonium when the waters of this pool were troubled, I feel the great need to take a few moments and write about the group of people who were present at this pool. If you read the words which the apostle John wrote you will find that this pool called Bethesda in the Hebrew tongue had five porches around it, and within these five porches lay a great multitude of impotent folk, of blind, halt, and withered. Pause for a moment and consider this reality and scene at the pool of Bethesda within the city of Jerusalem. Consider the fact that within the five porches which were around the pool there were countless impotent folk made up of blind, halt, and withered—all who were waiting for the moving of the water. There within the five porches were not only a company and host of impotent folk—the blind, the halt, and the withered—but there within the five porches were those who were desirous to enter into the waters once the waters themselves were troubled. Please don’t miss and lose sight of what this scene would and could have looked like, for it’s interesting how those who lie within the five porches of this pool were those who perhaps could not do for themselves that which they themselves sought to do. If you were blind and lying within one of the five porches of this pool you were unable to make your way to the waters when they were troubled, for not only could you not see the waters, but you also could not see the waters when they were troubled, and make your way to them. If you were blind and lying within one of the five porches of this pool you could not get to the waters yourself, for you would undoubtedly need the assistance of someone else who would take you by the hand and lead you to the water. (As a side note, there is something to be said about that one or perhaps those individuals who are willing to take you by the hand and lead you to the place of healing and deliverance. There is something to be said about those who are willing to take the blind by the hand and lead them to the place of healing, and do for them what they could not do themselves). In addition to the blind who were lying in these five porches, there were also the halt and the withered—perhaps those who lie on mats and could not themselves make it to the waters of the pool when they were troubled. Within the five porches of this pool were those who did not have enough strength within their physical bodies—they did not have enough strength in their ankles, their calves, their feet, and their legs—in order that they might make it to the waters when they were troubled.

THE COMPANY OF THE INFIRM AND THE COMPANY OF THE COMPASSIONATE! As I sit here this morning and think about this certain pool within the city of Jerusalem I can’t help but be drawn to the fact that there within the five porches of this pool were not only those who were blind, halt and maimed, but perhaps at certain times there were those who were present there who would be willing to help them to the waters. Is it possible that there were certain of the impotent folk—certain of the blind, the lame and the halt—who were present at this pool who might have been able to make it to the waters themselves, but a vast majority of those who lie within the five porches of this pool needed the assistance of those who were willing to come alongside them and help them to the waters. ALL I’M LOOKING FOR IS SOMEONE TO HELP ME TO THE WATER! ALL I’M LOOKING FOR IS SOMEONE WHO WILL LEAD ME TO THE WATER! Would it shock and surprise you to hear and know that there are those before and around us who are simply looking for someone—anyone—who is willing to help them by leading them to the water? Would it shock and surprise you to think about and consider the fact that there are those before and around you today who are merely looking for someone who possesses the compassion to take them by the hand and lead them to the waters in order that they might be healed restored, made whole, and delivered? The more I sit here this morning and think about and consider the scene at this pool of Bethesda, the more I can’t help but consider the tremendous fact that there was within the five porches of this pool a company of those who could not do for themselves, and perhaps those who needed others to come alongside and help them do what they could not do. I can’t help but read the words which are contained within this passage of Scripture and be drawn to this concept of “the company of the infirmed” and perhaps even “the company of the needy.” Please note and please understand that by needy, I do not mean needy in the sense that we understand needy, but needy in the sense that they could not do for themselves what they perhaps desired and wanted to. Within the five porches of this pool was the company of the blind, the company of the halt, and the company of the withered. In other words, there was within the five porches of this pool certain and distinct companies of those who not only had a desperate need within their physical bodies, but also those who could not do for themselves and needed the assistance of another who was willing to come alongside them and help them to the waters.

On the one hand I have to admit that it is kind of tragic and sad to think that there were five porches surrounding this pool, and within those five porches lie a company of impotent folk, made up of the blind, the halt and the withered. On the other hand, I can’t help but get the strong sense that there might have been a sense of community and camaraderie between the folk who were within the porches of this pool, for they all shared something in common with each other—they were all in desperate need of healing within their physical bodies. Could I be so bold right now and emphatically declare that there is something about being in the company of others who are in the same place as you? Can I be bold and declare that there is something about being in the company of others who are in just as much of a desperate need as you are, and who perhaps can’t do for themselves what they would or want? There is something about being in the company and presence of others who cannot and will not judge you because of your condition, or what you are going through because they themselves have their own need and that which they are seeking healing and deliverance from. There is not a doubt in my mind that it is possible that within the five porches of these pools—although they were made up of the blind, the halt and the withered—there was a community of the diseased who were each seeking and looking for a miracle and healing within their lives. I am firmly convinced that there is something about being in the company of others who are in the same place as you are, for not only is there the absence of judgment, but there is also a wonderful sense of comfort in knowing that you aren’t alone, and that there are others who are in the same place as you. I can’t help but be reminded of David before he became king over the nation of Israel, and the great warrior/king/psalmist we have come to know and love. Before David sat upon the throne in Jerusalem he was anointed by the prophet Samuel and was on the run from a murderous Saul who desired that he might strike down and kill David. After dodging two different attempts of Saul to kill him by thrusting spears at him, David finally had enough and instead of fighting fire with fire and retaliating against Saul, he set out to do the best thing for him—run for his life. Essentially, David had reached a “fight or flight” moment—a moment within his life when he would need to decide whether or not he would stay and fight against and resist Saul with the same degree and measure Saul fought against and resisted him, or whether he would simply set out in flight from the presence and threats of Saul. Of course Scripture reveals that instead of David remaining in the palace and house of Saul where he would continue to have spears thrown at him, he would flee from the presence of Saul and from his murderous threats.

In the process of fleeing from the presence of Saul, David would flee into the forests within the land of Judaea, and would even flee into the wilderness surrounding Jerusalem in order to escape the murderous threats of Saul king of Israel. Scripture records how David would spend countless nights fleeing from the presence of Saul, and from his threats, and would dwell in the forests within the land of Judah, and even the wilderness within the land of Judah. What’s more, is that as you continue reading the account of David before he became king of the the nation and kingdom of Israel, he would even spend time living and dwelling in the territory of the enemy, for we would find David dwelling in the territory of the Philistines. What’s more, is that we would even find David fighting some of the battles of the Philistines, for not only was he seeking solace and safe harbor within their territory from the murderous threats of Saul, but he would also seek to prove his loyalty to the leadership within the land in order that they would not thrust him out. With that being said, there is a particular chapter within the first Old Testament book of Samuel which describes David’s time of flight from the murderous threats of Saul, and how David would find himself dwelling in a cave called Adullam. If you turn and direct your attention to the twenty-second chapter of the Old Testament book of First Samuel you will find the account of David at this cave of Adullam where he would seek solace and refuge from the murderous threats and murderous rampage of Saul king of Israel. Beginning with the first verse of the twenty-second chapter of this Old Testament book you will find the following words concerning David and his being at the cave of Adullam:

“David therefore departed thence, and escaped to the cave Adullam: and when his brethren and all this father’s house heard it, they went down thither to him. And every one that was in distress, and every one that was in debt, and every one that was discontented, gathered themselves unto him; and he became a captain over them: and there were with him about four hundred men. And David went thence to Mizpeh of Moab: and he said unto the king of Moab, Let my father and my mother, I pray thee, come forth, and be with you, till I know what God will do for me. And he brought them before the king of Moab: and they dwelt with him all the while David was in the hold. And the prophet Gad said unto David, Abide not in the hold; depart, and get thee into the land of Judah. Then David departed, and came into the forest of Hareth” (1 Samuel 22:1-5).

Please pay close attention to what we find and what we read in this particular chapter, for what would begin as David fleeing from the murderous threats and pursuits of Saul and escaping to the cave of Adullam would eventually turn into a company of the discontented, a company of the distressed, and the company of the indebted. I find it absolutely incredible when reading this particular passage of Scripture that David initially entered into the cave along and wasn’t looking for any sort of company or companionship, but merely to find refuge and harbor from the murderous threats of Saul. There is not a doubt in many mind that when David entered into the cave, there was no expectation or anticipation within his heart that he would be joined by others, and that there would be those who would gather themselves before and around him. As the divine will of God would have it, the Lord would bring unto David—first his father’s house, and then every one that was in distress, and every one that was in debt, and every one that was discontented. What would begin with David at and in the cave alone without the comfort and companionship of any one else would eventually and ultimately turn into David being joined by his father’s house, as well as those who were discontented, those who were in debt, and those who were in distress. Pause for a moment and consider the fact that there are certain times when we find ourselves in great distress and need, and instead of the Lord delivering us from that distress and need, He brings others who themselves are distressed, discontented and perhaps even indebted. It’s worth noting that the Lord didn’t at this time deliver David from the hand of Saul, nor even deliver Saul into the hand of David, but instead delivered unto David a company of four hundred men who would gather themselves before and around David. Consider the fact that instead of the Lord delivering David out of the hand of Saul and out of the hand of his murderous threats, the Lord would gather unto David a company and host of men who would align themselves with him, and those who would ultimately and eventually fight alongside and with him. Instead of the Lord delivering David from the murderous threats of Saul and once and for all deliver David from the madness of this king, the Lord would gather around and bring before David the company of those who were themselves in need at the same time. Oh, the more I think about and the more I consider David at the cave of Adullam, the more I can’t help but think about those who were at the pool of Bethesda, and those who lie within the five porches which were located at those pools. I can’t help but see a strong similarity between the pool and the cave in that not only was there present at the cave a company of the distresses, a company of the discontented, and a company of the indebted, but at the pool there was the company of the impotent—those who were blind, halt and withered. Oh, there is something about being in the company of others who are themselves in a place of need, and others who perhaps are in the same place and position as you are. There at the pool of Bethesda there was a great company of those who were impotent, and those who could not do for themselves what they desperately desired and wanted.

I can’t help but read the words which are found within this passage of Scripture and not only see a tremendous picture of those who were part of the company of the infirmed, but also those who were part of the company of the compassionate. Those who lie within the five porches of the pool of Bethesda could not themselves get to the waters without the help and assistance of others, and would need others who were compassionate enough, and willing to help get them to the waters. I can’t help but consider what it must have been like there at the pool of Bethesda when the waters were troubled, as there were those who perhaps knew they would not be able to make it to their waters, and those who had someone else to come alongside and help them to the waters. Even when you read this passage of Scripture you will find the man responding to Jesus by declaring and describing how he had no man who would help him to the waters of the pool, and ultimately and inevitably there would be another who would make it there before and in front of him. Even this man’s own words would confirm the reality that there would most likely have been those who were present within these five porches who could not make it to the waters themselves, and who would need the help and assistance of others to come alongside them and help them to the waters. This man had been in his present state for thirty and eight years, and as if that wasn’t enough, he would go on to declare that he had no man who would help him to the waters when they were troubled in order that he might find and receive healing within his physical body. SIR, I HAVE NO MAN! Pause for a moment and consider how incredibly tragic and how incredibly sad those words and that statement truly is, for it must have been incredibly difficult for this man to know the waters were troubled, and perhaps even to see the waters themselves being troubled, and yet not having any man to first bring him to the waters, and second to put him in the waters of the pool when they were troubled. Oh, I can’t help but get the strong sense that there are countless men and women among us today within this generation who are in the same position as this man. In other words, not only have they been in their present condition for quite some time, but also they had no man to come alongside them, lead them to the waters, and help them into the waters of the pool. There are men and women among us who are desperately desirous of someone—anyone—to come alongside them and not only lead them to the waters, but also help them into the waters in order that they might be healed and made whole. There are those among us today—even those in the church and body of Christ—who are without another to come alongside them in support who will lead them to the waters of healing, and to help them into that place of healing. There are those among us within the body of Christ who need just one man or one woman to come alongside them and lead them to the waters of healing in order that they might finally receive that which they have been longing for.

What I so love about this passage is that despite the fact that this man had been in his present condition for thirty and eight years, and despite the fact that this man did not have another to come alongside him to help him to the waters, and to put him in the pool, Jesus found him in that place. Not only did Jesus find him in that place of desperation, but Jesus also found him in that place of discouragement, as there is not a doubt in my mind that this man watched as countless others made their way to the waters of the pool when they were troubled and be healed of their disease and infirmity. Imagine what it must have been like for this man to watch the waters be troubled, know the waters were troubled, and watch as others before and around him made their way to the waters, and how many this man saw healed and made whole before and instead of him. Pause and consider the tremendous discouragement and hopelessness this man must have found within his heart and soul to watch the waters be troubled and to watch as others received healing before and instead of him. Imagine how many times this man must have wondered and thought to himself wondering when his time would come, and when he would experience healing within his physical body. Consider how many times this man watched as those around him would seek to make a mad dash to the waters of the pool in order that they might be healed, and yet how on this particular day, Jesus found him in the place where he lie and perhaps nowhere near the waters, and healed him of this infirmity. Consider the fact that despite this man not having anyone to come alongside and help him to the waters when they were troubled, Jesus found him in that place, and in that place of helplessness and hopelessness, Jesus healed this man of that which had plagued his physical body for thirty and eight years. Consider how there came a day when countless others would scramble to the waters of the pool, and how this man would simply be in the same place he always was, and would in and from that place experience the person and presence of Jesus, and would be healed of his infirmity. What a wonderful and powerful picture we find within this passage of Scripture—not only of the company of the infirmed, but also the company of those who are willing to help others to find and experience healing within their lives. The gospels are replete with example after example of those who could not make it to Jesus themselves, and who needed the help and assistance of others in order that they might experience healing and wholeness in the presence of Jesus. What we find at this pool of Bethesda was no different than other instances within the life and ministry of Jesus the Christ, for there at the pool of Bethesda those who were present within the five porches would need another who would come alongside them and help them to the waters. What a wonderful and powerful picture we have within this passage a description of the company of the infirmed and diseased, as well as the company of those who are willing to help them into the place of healing, wholeness and deliverance.

I fully recognize that where this writing has gone might not have anything to do with the passage at hand in the twelfth chapter of the New Testament gospel of Luke, however, there is something to be said about finding community in the place of need, finding community in the place of distress, and finding community in the place of discontentment. There is something about finding community in those around you who cannot and will not judge you simply because they themselves are in the same place as you. There is something about finding community with those around you who are just as distressed, just as discontented, and just as much in need as you are. There is something about finding community in the place of need, desperation and hopelessness that is truly astounding and remarkable when you think about and consider it. David entered into the cave of Adullam not expecting anyone to find or join him there, and yet while there at the cave his father’s house found and joined him, and then a company of four hundred men who were themselves discontented, distressed and indebted. What a wonderful and powerful picture we find within these two accounts of finding community in unexpected places, for it is possible to find community in the place of hopelessness and helplessness, and even in a cave when you aren’t looking for a single soul to join you—much less come alongside and agree to fight alongside you. What I so love about the account of David in the cave of Adullam is not only that he was joined by those who were discontented, distressed and in debt, but in addition to this, these men would come alongside him and fight with and beside him. How absolutely remarkable and wonderful it is that in that place of distress, in that place of hopelessness, and in that place of discontentment, David would not only find community and companionship, but David would also find those who would be willing to fight alongside him from that day forward. Consider the fact that when David left the cave of Adullam he did do accompanied by four-hundred men who would become part of his mighty men, and part of the army of Israel. When this man would leave the pool of Bethesda, he would leave taking his mat with him having been healed of that which plagued his physical body for thirty and eight years. What a wonderful and powerful picture is found within these two passages of Scripture—not only regarding community, but also regarding finding healing, finding wholeness, and finding companionship and those who are willing to come alongside you during your difficult times, as well as those who would be willing to come alongside you when you finally enter into and step into that which you have been called to do.

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