Day 5/21: Receive Hope!

Welcome here! This blog is an “extra blog” being posted daily between January 13 and February 3 to come alongside the 21 Days of Prayer. We are reading the book of John with the intention of looking at Jesus very closely. We want to know Him really well so that we will love Him even more!

January 18, 2019

Good morning Jesus,

Hard to get out of bed this morning. The blankets were so warm. But I have my coffee, heat dish at my feet, sweater on, coffee to my right, pen, Bible and journal and I am ready! I am taking “my thoughts captive” so they won’t pull me all over the place (this pretty much happens immediately when I sit down with you – 5 other random thoughts that suddenly start knocking on my mind, wanting my attention…they can wait).

As I read John 5 my first mental note is…I need to spend more time with John 5 at some point. This is a meaty chapter. Holy Spirit I know there is so much here, but show me the one thing You want me to know today. The verse that jumps out at me in this chapter is verse 6. I think every time I read this, it jumps out. It is just such a compelling question and depending what is going on in my life at the time, it speaks to me in a new way.

When Jesus saw him lying there and learned that he had ben in this condition for a long time, He asked him, “Do you want to be well?”

What were your thoughts here? What was your tone of voice? It is so easy for me to hear my voice rather than Yours. I can see myself walking up to this scene and having a pretty judgemental assessment: “Seriously, 38 years? For 13,870 days he has not thought up an idea to move this situation along?”

Dear Reader: Spent some time reading about John 5:6 because I was curious about what other people have said about this verse. I googled “John 5:6 commentaries”…read a few on Bible Hub. I also googled “John 5:6 Maclaren” because I really love the way he looks at things. Old language, so it requires a little patience, but worth it…want to read it for yourself, go here

A few things that stir my thoughts.

On no other occasion does Christ ask a question without being addressed first: why does He now ask a question of which the answer was so obvious? Probably in order to rouse the sick man out of his lethargy and despondency (Cambridge Bible for schools and colleges)

I am thinking about what it is like to live with a “condition” for 38 years,

  • how that affects every area of one’s life

  • how it is so defining of everything one calls “life”

  • how it can become an identity even, the language of the condition becoming what is most talked about, thought about, lived around — as if it “is you”

  • how people stop thinking beyond the condition, dreaming, or planning

Some things are so blocking!

Maclaren says,

The true text only tells us of an intermittent pool which possessed, or was supposed to possess, curative energy; and round which the kindness of some forgotten benefactor had built five rude porches. There lay a crowd of wasted forms, and pale, sorrowful faces, with all varieties of pain and emaciation and impotence marked upon them, who yet were gathered in Bethesda, which being interpreted means ‘a house of mercy.’ It is the type of a world full of men suffering various sicknesses, but all sick; the type of a world that gathers with an eagerness, not far removed from despair, round anything that seems to promise, however vaguely, to help and to heal; the type of a world, blessed be God, which, amidst all its sad variety of woe and weariness, yet sits in the porches of ‘a house of mercy,’ and has in the midst a ‘fountain opened for sin and for uncleanness,’ whose energy is as mighty for the last comer of all the generations as for the first that stepped into its cleansing flood.

This poor man, sick and impotent for eight and thirty years-many of which he had spent, as it would appear, day by day, wearily dragging his paralysed limbs to the fountain with daily diminishing hope-this poor man attracts the regard of Christ when He enters, and He puts to him the strange question, ‘Wilt thou be made whole?’ Surely there was no need to ask that; but no doubt the many disappointments and the long years of waiting and of suffering had stamped apathy upon the sufferer’s face, and Christ saw that the first thing that was needed, in order that His healing power might have a point of contact in the man’s nature, was to kindle some little flicker of hope in him once more.

I’m just going to stop there and not analyze the story because I just want to look at You in this situation, Jesus, and at that question again.

“Do you want to be well?” That is the first thing You said to this man. In that question is truly the stirring of hope. You are asking, “Can you imagine being well? Can you see yourself different than you are at this moment?”

It is a bit of a scary question for us humans, because we do ask ourselves if we dare hope after experiencing stinging disappointments. We tend to build walls to protect ourselves from that hope/disappointment cycle.

I have something I am hoping for. But often I find myself hoping in a very aching way. Perhaps a bit like this man at the pool….hope mixed with “despondency and lethargy” because I have been hoping a long while now. In this story, a conversation happens between You and this man. **** You introduced hope into his life and I believe this is what You are wanting me to hear today: Receive hope. No matter how drawn out a problem seems, no matter if it seems impossible to solve, see Jesus coming alongside and receive hope. And this is not hope built on positive words (like a nice quotable on social media); this is hope based on the power of Christ to accomplish the impossible. You will give me a new vision; new vision as often as needed!

I need to apply this to my life: out of this hope in Christ, the man who was a cripple trusted. He trusted enough to just do what Jesus asked of Him. Maclaren says “A very ignorant trust, no doubt, it was; but all that was set before him about Jesus Christ he grasped and rested upon.” And isn’t this true of me. I want my trust to be stellar, bold, and confident. But often it is just a little pea-sized trust because I am sad and tired and fearful yet in there…the kernel of trust lives still.

Jesus says to the man to get up and the man does not argue. He just attempts to do what Jesus instructed. This is a submissive trust. And don’t I get caught on the submission part? I see my stubbornness Lord and confess it to You!

So it is no spiritualising of this story, or reading into it a deeper and more religious meaning than belongs to it, to say that what passed in that man’s heart and mind before he caught up his little bed and walked away with it, was essentially the same action of mind and heart by which a sinful man, who knows that Christ is his Redeemer, grasps His Cross and trusts his soul to Him.

Do a work in me, Holy Spirit. I receive hope from You today. I lay down my “free-will” (which is also the choice to “not be well” or “not have hope” or “not have a new vision” or “not trust” if I so stupidly choose) and I am listening to what trust looks like. You told the man “pick up your mat” – what are you telling me to do today? I will do it.

Thank you that You see me, You see me even when I am miserable and You compassionately offer me hope. I pray I would not refuse it but would receive hope and COME ALIVE in Your Spirit!