20 May 2013

Encountering Jesus ~ Jesus Encounter Take Two

Ever wonder what it's like to have Jesus come and find you... twice?

The Pool of Bethesda, by William Hogarth, 1736, retrieved from wikipaintings.org. 
Afterward Jesus found him in the temple and said to him, 

     “Behold, you have become well; do not sin anymore, so that nothing worse happens to you.”
The man went away, and told the Jews that it was Jesus who had made him well.For this reason the Jews were persecuting Jesus, because He was doing these things on the Sabbath.
But He answered them, “My Father is working until now, and I Myself am working.”
For this reason therefore the Jews were seeking all the more to kill Him, because He not only was breaking the Sabbath, but also was calling God His own Father, making Himself equal with God. (John 5:14-18)
This lame guy had that opportunity!

He's made whole and then he meets up with the Pharisees. They don't see the miracle. They disregard the grace. They totally miss the mercy. All they see is a violation of the traditional interpretation and application of God's command to keep the Sabbath day holy, to not work and follow God's example of not working that one day each week.

However, maybe those guys aren't all to blame... at least, not yet. Yes, they were to be on the lookout for a coming Messiah - but Jesus hadn't made any blanket revelations - yet. There were certainly whispers, clear signs and obviously a few knew. But it might be presumptuous to assume that the Pharisees were privy to this piece of knowledge when they questioned the no longer lame man. I wonder if they noticed that it was the formerly lame man walking around, or if all they noticed was the mat being carried?

And I started thinking about all the times I do just that very thing. My child makes a major accomplishment... yet all I notice is the part that still falls short; I note the portion that  doesn't meet my expectations. Sometimes I get so busy looking for those failings to try and correct them, I completely miss the growth... the becoming... Ouch! It stings when I see myself reflected a little too clearly by these bad guys in God's Word.

The lame man cannot really tell them too much of anything. 

I find it amazing that he didn't understand. Miracles like the blind seeing, mute speaking, deaf hearing and lame walking were clearly associated with the coming of the Messiah (Isaiah 35, for example). But then again, maybe that is an unfair expectation. Lame for 38 years, it's possible he hadn't been to the temple for that long as well - maybe he was searching for the priests to declare him healed. There is no indication of how old he is, either. Perhaps he hadn't heard the prophecies or the readings in the synagogue for literal decades? Perhaps shock dulled his thinking - after all, appendages that had only hung there for 4 decades were not only moving, they were supporting his weight and taking him places. When I think about it that way, it isn't so impossible to believe that he was so overwhelmed by the miracle that he too, like the Pharisees, missed seeing the Messiah in that first encounter.

So Jesus finds him again. 

That says something so powerful to me. Jesus found him again. 

Since having lived overseas, I can relate to that, at least more than I used to be able to. I've given to beggars on the side of the street. I've had guys who must be regular recipients of Tim's pocket money because on some street corners, I hear voices calling "Madame Tim...!" But I'll also never forget the night where I pulled up to a stop light and a little guy I'd never seen before came wordlessly to the door with his hand outstretched, asking for bread. When I told him I didn't have any in the car with me, his lower lip started to quiver, his eyes overflowed with tears, he nodded and he turned to walk away from the car. I'd had enough experience with beggars to recognize this could all have been another con, but that time, that moment, I felt compelled to do something. 

I knew a little food stand where I'd be able to buy some bread about half a mile away. I quickly informed my husband of what I was doing, raided his wallet of a bit of money and recruited a friend to drive while I looked for the little guy. It was getting dark out, after all. We hurried and soon we were back at that same stop light. He wasn't however. And try as we might to find him, we couldn't.

I was the one peering out the car window into the dark with silent tears rolling down my face as my friend finally turned the truck around to head home.

It is moments like that where my heart feels as though it is sliced hacked in two... or more... pieces. Moments where I realize afresh just what my Jesus did for me. I really tried to find that little guy that night and couldn't. The hope then disappointment, the anger then sadness, the misery of good intentions that didn't work out... Jesus feels all of that and more when He seeks after me and I hide or run from Him, when I'm so distracted by other and lesser things that I'm clueless, when I'm wandering off on my own.

In this story, though, Jesus located the guy. I'm sure some of you are saying, "Of course! He's God!" That's one of those questions I return to time and time again. When Jesus agreed to incarnation, to clothing Himself in flesh and physical mortal limitations, did that mean that, excluding miracle moments, He laid aside omniscience? Omnipotence? Omnipresence? Talk about rights and entitlements and there was no stretch or arrogance for Him to claim them as His own. Did Jesus limit His access to all those munitions and walk through life most days just as I do - dependent on Holy Spirit leading, wondering about the next best step, meandering through the crowd at the temple, hoping to find the guy He'd healed?

But, I've gotta stop sidetracking... or I'll never finish and capture the thought that's teasing and flitting around the perimeter of my mind even as I try and sneak up behind it while my fingers do the thinking.

Jesus walks up to this man and I've read so many commentators who think that this man's disability was the result of an earlier sin in his life. Perhaps. Perhaps not. I don't think that is key. What I see as so important is that the first time around, the used-to-be-lame man somehow missed encountering Jesus. That was the biggie. The previously lame man didn't recognize Who the Healer was. So just like I went back and tried to find that beggar boy, Jesus looked again for this man. Jesus was successful. He found him at the temple. he told Him to to and sin no more. I guess I tend to think the sin mentioned was a lack of faith... a limping choice perhaps to idolize the miracle instead of worshiping the one who'd wrought it.

The once-upon-a-time-lame-guy must have got it after that. For he then strode right into an "encounter" in the truest, traditional and historical sense of the word, as he began  acknowledging the name of the One Who'd restored him.

What miraculous-ness in your life are you tempted to worship, instead of bowing the knee and giving all back to the Maker of that miracle?

How do you combat that temptation... to do as Jesus says, "Go, and sin no more?"

this week's gratitude list

(#'s 3827 - 3851)

receiving this in an email:  Your two littlest, Elsie Mae and Mary Michelle, were adorable.  They cracked us up coming down to see if Dr. Haag could "come out and play"

being able to wholeheartedly agree with the above statement

family discussions about "if one of us was to get a tattoo, where would said person get it?" 

stalking fb conversations  young adults who want to better know and understand God

two interesting conversations about proselytizing in one single week

middle school musica

my middle school girls singing and dancing in said musical

invitations distributed

little girl singing herself to sleep, snuggled up next to her sister

looking at baby pics

driving a little car again... and one that handles oh so nicely

invitations and tickets checked off the list

 cloudy afternoon instead of a sun beating relentlessly down afternoon

M&M getting to go and hang out with friends

almost 16 year old singing and dancing through the kitchen as she washes the dishes

OREOS and Skittles and Starbursts

the countdown hitting below 25

another surprise blogging opportunity

one on line class done... two more to go

laughing over how virulently contagious a yawn can be

friends who inspire

friends who remember

family who are friends

that Nana and Pop pop are doing a little better

donuts with the dorm...  it will be the last time for awhile... perhaps even longer...

Ten most recent posts in this series: 


  1. Hi Richelle, I'm just now coming to visit after you came to my blog, and I just read this passage early in the week with the Hello Mornings challenge. I love your thoughts and was especially stricken by your story of the guy you looked to help. I felt the compassion, the ache, and it made me see Jesus with this man he healed in a new way. The compassion and ache He must've had for this man to find him again - to be sure he didn't miss the God of the miracle. Thanks for sharing. I think I've been here before, but if I haven't, I'm glad to meet you! Love your list, also, especially your 16 yr old dancing and singing while doing dishes. I hope my kiddos are that comfortable in the home as teenagers. Anyway, blessings!

    1. Hey Jacqui! And think, too... He goes to those same great lengths to make sure we don't miss the God of the miracle as well! :-)

      Teenagers are great - I heard all the horror stories and I'm sure people must have reasons for them... but it hasn't been our experience and #4 is almost there as well, not to mention having my teen niece living with us for a year a year ago. :-)


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