While reading through the Gospel of John, I found quite a few verses that gave me pause, in one way or another. I’d like to share my thoughts on these with you today and hope you are blessed.

The Invalid

When someone is testifying and being cross-examined in a court of law, they are asked questions. Lawyers will usually advise their clients, before taking the stand, to only answer the question being asked and not provide any additional information. Outside of a court of law, people have a tendency to supply much more information than is asked. While I’ve run into a few people in the course of my life who give short and direct answers, most people will add something. On one hand, this can add to a conversation, on the other hand, if you’re trying to find something out, it can provide a lot of unnecessary information.

Such were my thoughts today when I read these verses from John 5.

When Jesus saw him lying there and learned that he had been in this condition for a long time, he asked him, “Do you want to get well?” “Sir,” the invalid replied, “I have no one to help me into the pool when the water is stirred. While I am trying to get in, someone else goes down ahead of me.”

John 5:6-7 (NIV)

Since I’ve been talking about questions, allow me to ask this one, Why didn’t the invalid answer Jesus’ question? The answer to Jesus’ question seems like it would be obvious, so why did Jesus ask the man that question?

We know the man’s been in this condition for 38 years. We also know that he’s been sitting by this pool for some time, hoping for a miracle that would never come in the way he thought. The legend that someone would be healed by stepping into the pool after an angel has stirred up the water was just a superstitious myth.

This man has been in such a state for such a long time that all he could really think about was his condition and why he couldn’t get healed. He couldn’t get to the water in time. However, what he was waiting on, for an angel to stir the water, was just a myth, and I think he knew that. When someone came who really could heal him, Jesus, he didn’t see it. He still focused on the problem of being healed instead of the actual healing.

This invalid at the pool was holding onto hope. False hope. If he faced facts, he probably would have died. The fact was that he wasn’t going to get healed. Even if he somehow got to the water “in time” he wouldn’t be healed. His hope to be healed had faded away. His hope now was in getting to the water right after it was stirred up. This man took one impossible thing, being healed, and replaced it with something possible. Getting into the water in time.

I imagine the man did everything he could to try and get as close to the water as he could, so when it was stirred up, he’d be able to get in. He defensively responds to Jesus as if He’s been asked, “Why don’t you want to get well? The pool’s right there. The water gets stirred up, so why don’t you get in and get healed?”

Then Jesus said to him, “Get up! Pick up your mat and walk.” At once the man was cured; he picked up his mat and walked.

John 5:8-9 (NIV)

Jesus gave the man an impossible command, “Get up! Pick up your mat and walk.” In that instant, the man was healed and could do what Jesus told him to do. We see a lot of people healed by Jesus because of their faith. Some people heard about Jesus and went to Him to be healed, while other people recognized Him when they saw Him and asked to be healed. This invalid by the pool didn’t have a clue who Jesus was. He wasn’t healed by his faith in the identity of Jesus. He was healed because God willed it to be, and it was.

If God can do this in someone who isn’t looking out for Him, and believing in Him, imagine what He can do for those who diligently seek Him.

Life in Scripture

You study the Scriptures diligently because you think that in them you have eternal life. These are the very Scriptures that testify about me.

John 5:39 (NIV)

The Pharisees, and other teachers of the law, studied the Scriptures and memorized what they said.

Blessed are those who keep his statutes and seek him with all their heart.

Psalm 119:2 (NIV)

However, they forgot to do what it says.

Blessed are those whose ways are blameless, who walk according to the law of the Lord.

Psalm 119:1 (NIV)

For I desire mercy, not sacrifice, and acknowledgment of God rather than burnt offerings.

Hosea 6:6 (NIV)

They tried to follow the rules of the law without following the Spirit of God within the law.

I know of people who have great memories. They can recite the Bible from cover to cover. However, do they do what it says? Do they love others? Do they have meek spirits that honor the Lord first and love as He loves?

There’s nothing wrong with trying to memorize Scripture. One of my favorite verses is from Psalm 119.

I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.

Psalm 119:11 (NIV)

However, I think there’s more to hiding Scripture in my heart than memorizing it. The Lord’s word is something I cherish and is a part of me. I find my life in God’s word and desire to know Him more. I can memorize Scripture, but if I don’t live it, then the words are nothing but words. I like what James says.

Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like.

James 1:23-24 (NIV)

Crowds? Multitudes!

When Jesus looked up and saw a great crowd coming toward him, he said to Philip, “Where shall we buy bread for these people to eat?”

John 6:5 (NIV)

I’ve read about the feeding of the 5,000 a lot. When I was reading about it today, the words “great crowd” stood out to me and kinda chuckled at me. Immediately, I highlighted the verse on my Bible application and did a verse comparison.

Then Jesus lifted up His eyes, and seeing a great multitude coming toward Him, He said to Philip, “Where shall we buy bread, that these may eat?”

John 6:5 (NKJV)

That, I thought, was better. The Greek word here for a crowd is ochlos and is used 175 times in the New Testament. However, it just doesn’t seem to fit here. I know we use the word “crowd” to describe a group of 50 people as well as 50,000 people, but the way Jesus, Philip, and Andrew handle this stands out to me. Let’s look closely at this incident and what’s said.

When Jesus looked up and saw a great crowd coming toward him, he said to Philip, “Where shall we buy bread for these people to eat?” He asked this only to test him, for he already had in mind what he was going to do.
Philip answered him, “It would take more than half a year’s wages a to buy enough bread for each one to have a bite!”
Another of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, spoke up, “Here is a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish, but how far will they go among so many?”
Jesus said, “Have the people sit down.” There was plenty of grass in that place, and they sat down (about five thousand men were there).

John 6:5-10 (NIV)

I’ve heard it said there were probably closer to 10,000 people there, including men, women, and children. I figure, if half of the men were married and brought their wives, then that would be 2,500 more people. That’s 7,500 people. Now, without birth control, these married couples would have children. At least 1 child per couple would be another 2,500 people. That’s 10,000 people with far too few children.

This is what 10,000 people look like.

These people are bunched up in a stadium. This group in John is spread all over the place. I can easily imagine Jesus seeing all of these people and knowing they’d be able to feed them. I can also imagine Philip, eyes popping in amazement, saying to Jesus, “It would take more than half a year’s wages a to buy enough bread for each one to have a bite!” However, Andrew’s helpful comment that they’ve got “five small barley loaves and two small fish” and wondering “how far will they go among so many?” is comical. I think Andrew was doing the best with what he had without considering the impossibility of what Jesus was asking. I’m reminded of his brother, Peter, saying he can put up three shelters for Moses, Elijah, and Jesus up on the mountain during the transfiguration (cf. Matthew 17:14).

I have no doubt that there were over 5,000 people there that day and that they were all very fed. I find it very endearing to read how Philip and Andrew responded to this impossible situation. They wanted to please their Master, and it shows. We need to be the same way.

We will face the impossible in our lives, and when we face it, God wants us to take what we have and what we know and bring it to Him. God wants us to be like Andrew.

Conclusion

In our lives we can be like the invalid at the pool, leaning on false hope and focusing on the problems that don’t seem to go away, or we can be like Andrew, who had very little but lifted what he had up to God, trusting He would make a way, where there appeared to be no way. The choice is up to us. As for me, I will trust the Lord.

Do you know God? God knows you, and He loves you. He sees you as significant because you are. No one is insignificant to Him. He’s with you today, right now, and He wants you to know Him. Jesus died for your sins and mine so we could be free of guilt, be freed from death, and live eternally with Him. Eternal salvation is just a prayer away.

Pray this prayer with me to accept the gift of salvation today:

Lord Jesus, forgive me for all my sins. I repent from my ways. Wash me in your blood and cleanse me from all unrighteousness. I believe that you died on the cross, were buried, and on the third day, God the Father raised you from the dead. Right now, Lord Jesus, I open the door to my heart, and I receive you into my heart as my Lord and personal Savior. Amen.

If you prayed that prayer, then congratulations! You are on the first step of a brand new life. Allow me to be the first to welcome you to my family, the family of God. There are abundant resources available online for new Christians. You can visit here for more information on what to do next. You can also leave me a comment, and I’ll do my best to help you on the next step of this incredible journey.