Monday, June 27, 2011

John 5:9b-15. Again

The day on which this took place was a Sabbath, and so the Jewish leaders said to the man who had been healed, “It is the Sabbath; the law forbids you to carry your mat.” But he replied, “The man who made me well said to me, ‘Pick up your mat and walk.’ ” So they asked him, “Who is this fellow who told you to pick it up and walk?” The man who was healed had no idea who it was, for Jesus had slipped away into the crowd that was there. Later Jesus found him at the temple and said to him, “See, you are well again. Stop sinning or something worse may happen to you.” The man went away and told the Jewish leaders that it was Jesus who had made him well.

Was I being unfair to this man yesterday? I said that he could not remember who had healed him and that was perhaps inaccurate; rather it was that he was not curious. I mean, if you had been there 38 years and someone had healed you without ever disturbing the water, wouldn't you have asked how and why? It seems churlish not to. I don't think that Jesus suddenly disappeared like Philip before the Ethiopian Eunuch - there is nothing to suggest that.

Jesus' response that he should go and sin no more, I'm sure does not mean that his paralysis was the consequence of past sin. Jesus does not normally relate physical punishment to individual sin; everyone of us is a sinner and we don't attract paralysis. I think it much more likely that Jesus was referring to the man's response to the act of grace. Remember Jesus' response to the leper who came to thank him? Were there not ten lepers who were cleansed?

At the beginning of John's gospel we read, "To all who received him, to all who believed in his name he gave the right to become the children of God." This man didn't even ask for Jesus' name to believe in.

I believe that salvation is all of grace; there is nothing that we do to contribute to our salvation. But grace is not like a bit of paint that we get splashed by and there it is indelible, unable to be washed off. Salvation has to be accepted and there is no evidence that it was here. Healing was accepted but not salvation. Rather than defend Jesus for his healing, he blames Jesus before the Jews.

But you might ask, "In requiring that we accept our salvation aren't we claiming a part in it?" By no means since without the Holy Spirit's enabling we cannot accept. Yet if we reject salvation, as we surely must without the Holy Spirit, it is totally our responsibility. In telling him to sin no more, Jesus is asking for the Spirit's enabling in the Man's life. Will it happen? It is not inevitable. We are told that it is not God's will that any should perish, yet some will be so stiff necked as to do so. There is a difference between what God wants and what he wills.

How do we know the will of God? We know his desires but whether he has effectually willed his desires in some one's life will usually be seen in a change in their lives; if we do not see it we might doubt it, but short of heaven we will never know.

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