Have You Found Yourself Living In A Place of Desperation & Returning to a Place of Disappointment

Today’s selected reading continues in the New Testament gospel account of the life and ministry of Jesus the Christ as written and recorded by the apostle John. More specifically, today’s passage is found in verses sixteen through forty-seven of the fifth chapter. When you come to this particular portion of Scripture you will find the words which are contained therein being directly linked to the events which took place in the previous fifteen verses. If you take the time to read the verses which came before within this fifth chapter of the New Testament gospel of John you will find that the setting for what transpired in this chapter is in the city of Jerusalem. Jesus—having departed from Samaria where He not only encountered the woman at Jacob’s well in Sychar, as well as the men of the city—had departed from Samaria and had returned to Cana of Galilee where He turned water into wine. Before the fourth chapter of the New Testament gospel of John draws to a close we find a certain nobleman coming unto Jesus on behalf of his son who lie home in bed and on the verge of dying. This man—one who was in a completely desperate state—approached Jesus that He might come and heal his son that he might not die. Jesus’ initially responded to this man by declaring that unless they see signs and wonders they would not believe. This man—determined to enlist the mercy and help of Jesus the Christ emphatically entreated Him that He might come down with him, lest his son die. In response to the noble man’s persistence Jesus first instructed him to go his way, and then declared unto him that his son would live. The apostle John writes concerning this man that he believed the word which Jesus had spoken and departed from His presence. What an incredibly powerful truth and reality this is—not only that this man believed the word which Jesus had spoken unto him, but also that he departed from the presence of Jesus without Jesus accompanying to the place where his son lie, and without any visual proof or confirmation that his son would live. Pause for a moment and consider the reality of leaving the presence of Jesus—not only without any confirmation that what you asked for would come to pass, and without Jesus walking with and accompanying you on the way back to the place of your need. Scripture records and reveals concerning this man that this man believed the word which Jesus the Christ had spoken unto him, and that he departed from the presence of the Lord with only an instruction to depart and a declaration that his son would love. Consider—even if for a moment—whether or not your faith is strong enough to move as this nobleman did, as he not only believed the word which Jesus had spoken unto him, but also departed out of the presence of Jesus without Jesus walking with and accompanying him to the place where his son lie.

As you read the fourth chapter of the New Testament gospel of John you will find a wonderful and powerful connection to the words which the apostle John wrote in the opening chapter of this gospel, for in the opening chapter the apostle John wrote some incredibly inspiring words concerning two different types of people who lived and were alive during the days of Jesus. If you begin reading with and from the sixth verse of the first chapter of the gospel which the apostle John wrote you will find him declaring how there was a man sent from God, whose name was John. This same man called John came for a witness in order that he might bear witness of the Light, that all men through Him might believe. The apostle John would go on to declare that this man John the Baptist was not the Light, but was sent to bear witness of the Light that would come into the world. Furthermore, the apostle John would go on to declare that the Light which came into the world was the true Light, which lights every man that comes into the world. Upon continuing to read the words which you find in this passage of Scripture you will find the apostle John continuing to write concerning Jesus the Christ and the true Light which came into the world, and wrote some very specific words concerning the Light. Beginning with the tenth verse of this chapter you will find the following words which were written by the apostle John concerning this true Light which had come into the world, and had come unto His own who were alive and present at that time. Beginning with the tenth verse you find the following words which were written by the apostle John concerning Jesus the Christ:

“He was in the world, and the world was made by Him, and the world knew Him not. He came unto His own, and His own received Him not. But as many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His name: which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth. John bare witness of Him, and cried, saying, This was He of whom I spake, He that cometh after me is preferred before me: for He was before me. And of His fullness all we have received, and grace for grace. Fore the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ. No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, He hath declared Him” (John 1:10-18).

Upon reading the words which are found in this particular section of the first chapter of this gospel written by the apostle John you will find the apostle referencing two distinct people who were alive and present during the days in which Jesus the Christ walked upon the face of the earth. If you begin reading with and from the tenth verse you will find the apostle writing and declaring concerning Jesus how He was in the world—the world which was made by Him—and the world knew Him not. What’s more, is the apostle John would go on to write how He came unto His own, and His own received Him not. Thus far within the first chapter of the New Testament gospel of John we find the apostle writing—not only concerning the world knowing not Jesus the Christ, but also Jesus coming unto His own and receiving Him not. It is incredibly important that we recognize and understand these words, for as you continue reading in the first chapter you will find the apostle continuing to write concerning a different people which also existed during those days. The apostle John would go on to write concerning those who did in fact receive Jesus the Christ, and how it would be unto those who received Him that He would give them power to become the sons of God—even to those who believed on His name. The apostle John would further expound and explain that those who received Jesus the Christ and who believed on His name were born not of blood, nor of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. Please don’t miss that which is written and recorded within the first chapter of the New Testament gospel of John, for when you read those words you will of course find those who knew not Jesus and those who received Him not, but you will also find those who not only received Him, but those who also believed on His name. It is necessary that we understand and comprehend the words which are found within this passage, for when you come to the fourth chapter of the New Testament gospel of John you will find the men of Sychar within Samaria believing the word which the woman had spoken after she had declared that He had told her everything she had ever done. The apostle John initially writes that the men of this city believed on Jesus the Christ because of the word which the woman had spoken unto them, for she had not only spoken how He declared unto her everything she had ever done, but also iniquities whether or not this was the Messiah whom they were anxiously waiting for and anticipating. A little further on within this passage and you will find the men of the city declaring unto the woman—after having spent two full days with Jesus the Christ in their midst—that they believed all the more because they have heard Him for themselves, and know that this man was indeed the Christ, the Saviour of the world.

Please don’t miss the words which are written and recorded within this passage of Scripture, for within it you will initially find the men of the city believing on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ because of the word which the woman had spoken unto them. As the chapter progresses, however, you will find that many more believed on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ—not merely because of the word which the woman had spoken unto them, but because they had heard and listened to the words which the woman had spoken unto them concerning Jesus the Christ. What’s more, is the apostle John writes and records that a number of men (and perhaps even women) within the city believed on the name of Jesus the Christ, and declared that He was indeed the Messiah and the Savior of the world. If and as you continue moving forward in this passage of Scripture you will find it written and recorded concerning the nobleman how he believed the word which the Lord Jesus the Christ had spoken concerning his son, and how he had departed from the presence of Jesus believing that his son who lie home on the verge of death would recover. While on the way back to his home to check and see how his son was doing he was met by certain of those who brought word to him that his son lived. When this nobleman inquired of them at what hour his son’s condition began to improve and turn, they declared unto him that it was about the seventh hour when his condition started changed, and when his son began to recover from that which threatened his life. The father knew in that moment that it was that very same hour when Jesus had spoken unto him concerning his son living, and as a result of this revelation and realization this nobleman and father believed on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ all the more. What’s more, is that as you read the words which are found in the final verses of the fourth chapter, you will find it written concerning this nobleman that he believed on the name of the Lord Jesus the Christ—both he and his entire household. Consider the fact that this chapter initially began and opened up with Jesus departing from Judaea where He baptized and made more disciples than John, and how by the time the chapter draws to a close we find Him making disciples of a great number of those within the city of Sychar—as well as perhaps those in the surrounding cities, towns and villages within Samaria. What’s more, is that we find and read within this passage how this nobleman who originally believed the word which Jesus had spoken unto him concerning his son not only would believe all the more upon hearing that the very hour when Jesus had spoken unto him was the same hour his son’s condition began improving, but also this man’s entire household believed on the name of the Lord Jesus the Christ. By the time the fourth chapter of the gospel of John draws to a close, it does so—not only with countless Samaritans believing in Jesus and that He was indeed the Messiah, the Savior of the world, but also with the nobleman and his entire household believing in and believing on the name and person of the Lord Jesus the Christ.

Building upon the foundation of the Samaritans who believed on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and that He was indeed the Christ and Savior of the world, as well as upon the foundation of the nobleman and his entire household believing on the name of the Lord Jesus the Christ we turn and direct our attention to the fifth chapter where we find Jesus coming unto Jerusalem at a time of one of the feasts of Israel. The apostle John writes how there was in Jerusalem by the sheep gate a pool, which is called in the Hebrew tongue Bethesda, having five porches. The apostle John would go on to write concerning this pool and the five porches that surrounded [and perhaps enclosed the pool] were filled with a great multitude of impotent folk, of blind, halt, and withered, who were all waiting for something. What I find to be so incredibly interesting and intriguing about the firth chapter of the New Testament gospel of John is that within these five porches were not only a great multitude of impotent folk—those who were blind, halt and withered—but these five porches were filled with people who were all waiting for something very specific. As you continue reading the words which are found within this passage of Scripture you will find that those who were present within these porches were waiting for the moving or troubling of the water, for an angel of the Lord went down at a certain season into the pool, and troubled the water. Whoever therefore would enter into the waters first after they had been troubled would be made whole of whatever disease they had. Please don’t miss and lose sight of this reality, for within this passage—not only do we find a great multitude of men and women waiting for something very specific, but we also find them spending their days, weeks, and perhaps even months waiting for a specific season when the angel would come down and trouble the waters. Consider the fact that there were countless men and women who lived and dwelt in those porches simply and solely because they waited for, hoped for, and even longed for the troubling of the waters. There is a part of me that can’t help but wonder if there was originally one who came upon these waters at the time when the waters were being troubled, and out of curiosity entered into the waters only to find and discover that they had been made whole of their disease and infirmity. Is it possible that report quickly began spreading that there was a certain pool where the waters would be troubled, and whoever entered into the waters when the waters would be troubled was made whole of whatsoever disease and infirmity they had. Is it possible that as word began spreading and getting around concerning the troubling of the waters that this pool began attracting men and women from throughout Jerusalem—perhaps even from outside the city of Jerusalem as well? What if report and news concerning this certain pool within Jerusalem began attracting men and women from throughout Jerusalem and Judaea, and as a direct result of this report, countless men and women relocated themselves to the porches of this pool in order that they might somehow be first into the waters when they were troubled.

The apostle John writes how there was within and among these porches—and even among the countless men and women who lie within the porches—a certain man who had an infirmity for thirty and eight years. What I find to be so incredible about what we read within the fifth chapter is that not only do we find countless impotent folk lying within the porches of this pool, and not only do we find this man who had had an infirmity for thirty and eight years, but we find Jesus Himself coming unto the pool with its five porches. We go on to find and read how Jesus came unto this man who had had this infirmity for thirty and eight years, and how upon knowing that he had been in this state and place for such a long time asked him whether or not he wished and wanted to be made whole. Pause for a moment and consider the question which Jesus asked this man, for the question is actually quite interesting and intriguing. On the surface the question which Jesus asked this man might appear to only be about the desire to be made whole and the desire to be made better. What if, however, the question which Jesus asked this man was not so much a question of desire, but a question of belief, of trust and confidence? What if the question which Jesus asked this man was not so much a matter of desire to be made whole, but rather a matter of believing that he could in fact experience healing and wholeness? What if the question which Jesus asked this man wasn’t so much one that touched upon the reality of his desire to be healed, but rather upon his belief that it was possible for him to be healed? When I read the response which this man gave to Jesus the Christ after being asked “Wilt thou be made whole?” I can’t help but get the strong sense that the question which Jesus asked was not so much one about this man’s desire to be made whole, but whether or not this man believed that Jesus could in fact make Him whole. If you read the response this man gave to Jesus you will find him declaring unto Jesus how he had no man, when the water was troubled, to put him into the pool, and how when he is finally able to come, another steps down before and in front of him. Imagine not only spending thirty-eight years living with a certain and specific condition, but also watching as others seemed to enter into a reality which you so desperately desired for yourself. Imagine spending thirty-eight years living with a very specific condition—and not only living with that condition, but also watching others step down in front of and before you as you are striving to find and experience wholeness and healing. I can’t help but wonder how many times this man was actually able to make it toward the waters only to find that someone else got there before him and was made whole of their infirmity. How many times had this man actually been able to make his way to the waters, witnessed as someone else entered into the waters, and had to make his way back to the place where he lie without finding and experiencing any healing or wholeness in his physical body.

LIVING IN A PLACE OF DESPERATION AND RETURNING TO A PLACE OF DISAPPOINTMENT! I can’t help but picture this man not only living with this condition for thirty and eight years, but also living in the place of wanting someone to help him make his way to the waters of the pool when they were troubled. I find myself sitting here this morning and considering how many times during those countless years this man spent lying on his mat in one of the porches of this pool actually had the slight chance to make his way to the waters because someone was willing to help him make his way. Is it possible that each time this man made his way closer to the waters—only to find someone stepping down into the waters before him—he moved closer and closer to the waters? Is it possible that there were those who lived and spend their days in these porches who sought to set themselves up as close to the waters as possible in order that they might have as little distance as possible to traverse in order to make it into the waters? I can see in my mind’s eye this man finally having someone who was willing to come alongside him to help him make his way to the pools, and yet despite how close he would get to the waters, there would be someone who would step down into the waters before him. The question which Jesus asked this man was absolutely and incredible significant, for it was not so much a question of desire, but I would also dare say that it was a question about disappointment and frustration. The question which Jesus asked struck at the very heart and root of something that was much greater within this man’s life that his external, outward and physical condition. The question which Jesus asked this man not only touched upon his desire to be made whole from the disease and infirmity which had plagued his body, but also touched upon the countless times he had been disappointed and frustrated by watching others stepping down into the waters before him and finding healing for their own physical bodies. The question which Jesus asked this man struck at the very heart of disappointment and frustration within his heart, for regardless of how close he may have come to the waters after they had been troubled, he could never make it into the waters to be made whole of his infirmity. This man not only spent thirty-eight years living with this infirmity, but he had perhaps spent a good portion of those years living with disappointment and frustration as he would make his way to the waters only to experience someone else stepping down into the waters before him and experiencing healing and wholeness within their physical bodies. When Jesus asked this man if he would be whole, Jesus was touching upon the countless times—perhaps even countless years of disappointment and frustration—this man had faced and experienced within his heart and soul, in order to bring healing to his physical body.

As I read the fifth chapter of the New Testament gospel of John I can’t help but come face to face with the fact that Jesus’ question not only touched on the desire within the heart of this man to be made whole and his belief that it was possible, but also upon the disappointment and frustration he experienced within his heart and soul. The response of this man to Jesus’ question touched on the fact that regardless of how many times this man attempted to make his way to the waters after they had been troubled there would be someone who would make it there before him and would step down into the waters in front of him. I can’t help but wonder what it must have been like for this man to make his way down toward the waters and to watch as someone not only made their way before and ahead of him, but also stepped down into the waters before he himself was able to do so. There is not a doubt in my mind that this man had faced and experienced disappointment and frustration a number of times as he would finally have the chance to make his way to the waters only to find someone stepping down into the waters before him. Jesus’ question touched on this disappointment and frustration, and also invited him to believe that healing and wholeness was possible. What is so interesting and unique about this passage is that this man had absolutely no clue the one he was talking to was in fact Jesus of Nazareth. When Jesus asked this man if he would be made whole, he had absolutely no clue that the one standing before and in front of him was Jesus the Messiah, the Savior of the world. Jesus’ question not only invited this man to face his disappointment and frustration, but also invited this man to believe whether or not it was possible to be made whole. Perhaps this man had given up any and all hope that healing and wholeness was even possible. Is it possible that Jesus found this man in the place where he had resolved within himself that healing and wholeness would never be possible for him? Wouldn’t it be just like Jesus and just like the Father to find this man in a place of sheer and utter giving up in order that he might restore hope—and not only restore hope, but also restore his physical body and bring healing and wholeness? There is a part of me that can’t help but wonder if this man had finally and completely given up any and all hope of being made whole and being healed, and had relegated himself to remaining in that place within the porches upon his mat. It was Jesus the Christ, the Messiah and Savior of the world who found this man in this very place and not only touched his disappointment and frustration, but also offered to restore his hope, as well as his physical body. How absolutely wonderful it is to think about and consider the fact that Jesus came unto this man—not only to restore hope within his heart and soul, but also to restore his physical body and to offer health and wholeness.

What strikes me as so incredibly interesting about this passage is how Jesus can restore hope, health and wholeness to the life of one who had spent thirty-eight years living with the same infirmity, and yet because He chose to do so outside the parameters, regulations, standards and traditions of the Jewish people, He was persecuted. This chapter is truly remarkable and unique, for when you think about and consider it—Jesus took the time to reach out to one who had perhaps relegated himself to never recovering from the infirmity which plagued his life, and because Jesus chose to do so on the Sabbath, the Jewish people could not handle it. Jesus deliberately and intentionally came to this man in the place of frustration, in the place of disappointment, and perhaps in the place of sheer and utter hopelessness, and He chose to intervene on behalf of his infirmity, and because it went against the grain of the tradition and regulations of men, the Jewish people sought to persecute and vehemently oppose Him. If you read the words which are found within this passage of Scripture you will find that the original and initial scrutiny was not directed toward and even against Jesus, but was against this man whom Jesus had healed and restored his health. As you read the words which are found within this passage of Scripture you will find it written how when the Jewish people saw this man walking with his mat on the Sabbath day, they rebuked and condemned him for doing so. Imagine being this man and having not only lived with an infirmity for thirty-eight years, and not only living with a constant state of disappointment and frustration, but finally receiving healing and wholeness within your physical body, and immediately finding yourself facing criticism, judgment, and rebuke from those around you. Consider how this man had spent a considerable amount of time living and dwelling with disappointment, frustration, hopelessness, and perhaps even despair, and once he finally gets out of that place, he is met with resistance and judgment. It’s interesting and worth noting that what we find in the account of this man who had this infirmity for thirty-eight years is that once he finally received health and wholeness within his physical body, and once he walked from that place of disappointment and frustration, he was immediately met with criticism, rebuke, condemnation and judgment, and that by and from his own people. If and as you read the words which are found within this passage you will quickly come face to face with the fact that this man walked out of that place of despair, hopelessness, frustration, disappointment, and even the place of having given up, and was immediately met with resistance and judgment by his own people. Please don’t miss and lose sight of this tremendous reality, for we would be incredibly naïve to think that such a reality does not still take place in our generation today.

Within the opening portion of this chapter we find the only words Jesus the Christ speaking are a simple question to this man—“Wilt thou be made whole?”—and a second declaration and command spoken unto this man—“Rise, take up thy bed, and walk.” These were the only words which Jesus spoke unto the man prior to his departing from the porches of this pool after having been healed and made whole by the word and command of Jesus the Christ. The apostle John goes on to write concerning this man that when Jesus found him in the Temple He again spoke to him—this time, however, He spoke something much more sobering. The apostle John goes on to write concerning this man that when Jesus found him in the Temple, He emphatically declared unto him “Behold, thou art made whole: sin no more, lest a worse thing come unto thee.”I have to admit that I actually find it quite interesting—not only that Jesus found this man in the Temple, but also that He deliberately and intentionally chose to speak with this man. I find the fact that the apostle John chose to use the word “found” or “findeth” to be quite intriguing and fascinating, for it suggests and implies that Jesus was actively looking for this man once more after He had healed in one of the porches of the pool of Bethesda. I absolutely love the fact that the apostle John wrote concerning this man that after he had been healed Jesus found him in the temple—and not only found him, but also spoke with him once more. It wasn’t enough for Jesus to simply and merely find this man, for Jesus also found him and spoke unto him once more concerning his healing, as well as his future. If you read the words which Jesus the Christ spoke unto this man you will find that Jesus declared unto him that he was and had now been made whole, thus showing that Jesus acknowledged the fact that he had been healed. What Jesus does next is quite astonishing, for after speaking unto the man concerning His being healed, Jesus goes on to instruct and command him to go and sin no more, lest a worse thing come upon and unto him. Please don’t miss the significance and importance of this fact, for within this secondary encounter between Jesus and the man we find Him acknowledging the fact that he had been healed, and would go on to warn him against sinning, lest something worse come upon him. In all reality, I would dare say that Jesus was very much aware of how this man faced questioning from the Jews after he departed from the porches with his mat, and deliberately and intentionally engaged him in order that it might provoke the Jews. I wouldn’t necessarily say that Jesus deliberately tried picking a fight with the Jews, however, I would say that Jesus knew and was very much aware of this man’s being questioned by the Jews, and intentionally found him in the temple so he would not only know who it was who healed him, but would also go and reveal it unto the Jews who had questioned him.

If you continue reading in the fifth chapter of the gospel which the apostle John wrote you will find that when the Jews realized and recognized that it was Jesus who made this man whole, they sought to persecute and slay Him because He had done these things on the sabbath day. It’s quite astonishing and remarkable that when you read the words which the apostle John wrote, the Jews sought not only to persecute Jesus, but also to slay Him because He had chosen to heal this man on the sabbath day. After rebuking and questioning the man who had received and experienced healing, the Jews would turn their hatred and animosity toward Jesus the Christ—not because He had healed the man, but because He had healed him on the sabbath. What I love and appreciate this passage is that in response to the Jews hatred and persecution of Jesus, He would emphatically and boldly declare unto them that His Father works, and therefore He also Himself works. There is a part of me that can’t help but think and believe that Jesus deliberately and intentionally found this man in order that he might speak to the Jews concerning who it was that healed him. What’s more, is that there is not a doubt in my mind that Jesus deliberately and intentionally spoke unto the Jews of His Father working, and He Himself working knowing full well how they would respond and react to those words. There is not a doubt in my mind that Jesus wasn’t very much aware of how the Jews would respond when He spoke of His Father working, and even how He Himself must work. By the time you come to the eighteenth verse of the chapter you not only find the Jews persecuting and seeking to slay Him because He healed on the sabbath day, but you also find them seeking all the more to kill Him—not only because He had broken the sabbath, but also because He claimed that God was His Father, thus making Himself equal to God. It is necessary that we understand and recognize this, for it brings us face to face with something very specific concerning Jesus the Christ—namely, that if His Father was working then so He too would work. If you continue reading the words which Jesus spoke unto the Jews, you will find Him emphatically declaring that He could in fact do nothing of Himself, but only what He sees the Father doing. Furthermore, Jesus would go on to declare that whatsoever things HE saw the Father do, those things He the Son of man did within and upon the earth. The entire remaining portion of the fifth chapter describes and details Jesus’ speaking to the Jews concerning His works, as well as the witness which bore the truth of who He was as the Christ and Messiah. As you read the words found within this passage you will not only come face to face with Jesus speaking concerning the works which His Father does, but also the works which He Himself does. What’s more, is that Jesus also directly linked the works and the witness, thus bringing both the witness and the works together.

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