Monday, June 13, 2011

Changing the Rules

Today's passage:  John 5
     I try to see the Pharisee's viewpoint when I read the gospels.  If I don't, they frustrate me, as they must have frustrated our Lord.  If I don't, I too often shake my head, say "tsk, tsk" and wonder if they will ever get it right.  If I fail to see things from their side, I might miss out on something God wants to teach me, because I have certainly had times of self-righteousness, of holier-than-thou moments.  Something in this passage does make me wonder though. 
     Jesus heals this man who has had an infirmity for 38 years.  That is almost as long as I have been alive.  It would be difficult to live with an illness for that long.  This man goes to the pool of Bethesda, where John tells us on certain occasions an angel touches the waters of the pool, and the first person in is cured of his sickness.  Even more frustrating for this man, is that every time the water does move, he can't get into it in time without assistance before someone else has taken up the healing powers.  Can you imagine sitting day after day waiting for your miracle, and just missing it every time?  This man obviously has great faith.  Jesus heals him.  He simply says, "Rise, take up thy bed, and walk."
Jesus Heals a Man by the Pool of Bethseda--Taken from Standard Bible Story Readers, Book Two
By Lillie A. Faris, Illustrated by O.A. Stemler and Bess Bruce Cleaveland
The Standard Publishing Company, 1925
 Later Jesus finds this man in the Temple, I'm guessing he went there to praise God for this miracle in his life (which is what we should all do when God answers our prayers).  On the way, maybe to the Temple, maybe to show friends and family, he runs into the Pharisees.  Apparently, they were familiar with this man, because they see he has been cured from his illness.  Because it is the Sabbath, they want to know who dared heal him on the holy day.  The man cannot answer, because Jesus was thronged with a crowd after He helped him.  I imagine the people waiting to get into the water saw no need to wait for its stirring once they saw Jesus' healing abilities.  The Pharisees are determined to find out who had done this thing.  Now here is my question.  If this man had come from the direction of the pool, why didn't they just assume he had been healed by the waters?  Why did they immediately assume someone had healed him (and I'm guessing they knew it was Jesus but they wanted a verbal witness to testify to that fact)?  If it had been the angel who had touched the waters, would they then accuse the angel of breaking the Sabbath?  Why do they not apply the same rules all the way around?  These are the things that baffle me about the Pharisees.  I'm guessing that if the angel of the pool was of God, the waters were stirred on the Sabbath day as well.  God did not make the rules about not being able to heal on the Sabbath, those were the Pharisees' rules that they passed off as God's. 
     This just shows me that the Pharisees were determined to prove Jesus was a fake and a liar.  Why?  Because they did not want to change their way of thinking.  They didn't want to believe that all these rules and regulations they had carefully designed were all for nought.  They did not want anyone else, who had not carefully studied and practiced, to be able to achieve the status they had.  It would be very easy to ponder at the Pharisees' foolishness and not see how this could apply to me.  But there are plenty of times I don't want to change my way of thinking.  There are plenty of times I want to argue with God and say, "But I have always done it this way", to which God says, "And now I'm telling you to do it this way."  Change is hard.  Change is disconcerting.  Change is uncomfortable.  For the Pharisees, their biggest problem was they did not want to change, and there are plenty of areas in my life I don't want to either.  I've always considered myself a flexible person, a person who embraces change, but I see more and more, that how I see me, isn't how God sees me.  God gives me responsibilities that I don't want.  What am I going to do?  Complain, complain, complain, or do the best with what God has given me to do?  God wants me to let go of my perfectionism.  This is a hard one for me because doesn't God want my best?  What I am learning is that what I think is my best, and what He thinks is my best is not the same.  I want to iron my sheets before I put them on my bed, I want to edit my words a thousand times before I post, I want to linger in every aisle in the store to get the best deal.  God tells me this is not necessary.  But Lord, ironed sheets look so nice and clean and neat.  But God, I don't want my writing to sound sloppy and thrown together.  But Jesus, I'm just trying to be a good steward of the money You've given me.  No, God says, what happens is those beds don't get made as often because you are too consumed on ironing sheets that will be wrinkled as soon as you lay on them, that devotion is taking far longer than it needs to and taking up valuable prayer time because you have to review your words a million times, the time and energy you spend trying to find the perfect deal is time you should be spending with your husband and kids. 
     I have issues with change too.  I have issues with trying to be perfect, just like the Pharisees did.  I need to remember who is in charge of the Sabbath.  He is.  I need to try and live by His rules, and not make up my own.  Otherwise, just like the Pharisees, I may miss the blessings while trying to prove that I am right.


  1. God was just showing me during my prayer time that the reason I hate added responsibilities is because I want to do everything perfectly. He doesn't want me to do it perfectly, he just wants me to do it. I need to leave the perfectionism to Him, because He is the only one who can achieve that.

  2. In time the things that we do for Him will be perfect to us, if we do it His way.

  3. So true, Anonymous.


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