.Something that I have been praying for myself and other friends is true and complete freedom. Not a temporary feeling of freedom that derives from our fleeting emotions, but true freedom that comes from Christ.
…..Today, I read a story about Jesus healing a lame man in John 5:1-15. In the pool of Bethesda, there was a crowd of sick people laying on the five porches. The Bible points out one particular man who had been lying there, who has been sick for 38 years. Immediately upon seeing the man, Jesus recognized that the man had been sick for awhile.
…..He asks him, “Would you like to get well?” At first, I was baffled. I thought, ‘Jesus, of COURSE the man wants to get well! He’s been sick for 38 years’. But when Jesus asks that question, the man–instead of immediately replying, “Yes!!! Can you help me?” as we might expect him to say–the man says, “I can’t sir. For I have no one to put me into the pool when the water bubbles up. Someone else always gets there ahead of me.”
…..The lame man, being sick for 38 years, is utterly defeated and hopeless. No one had been there to help him throughout the course of 38 years of pain and suffering, and he is certainly not expecting anyone to help him anytime soon. The man had found comfort and rest in his hopelessness, and his desire to be healed had been long extinguished by the feeling of defeat.
….Jesus knew that the man was at a state of hopelessness, but Jesus–being the ultimate harbinger of hope–extends out his help. He commands him to, “Stand up, pick up your mat, and walk!” The man was instantly healed; he rolled up his sleeping mat and started walking. In a flash of a second, the lame man’s 38 years of pain is over. Later, we find Jesus telling the man, “Now you are well; so stop sinning, or something even worse may happen to you”. After reading this passage, I found it strange that the man was not leaping for joy–praising Jesus for the healing that he just received. I also found it odd that Jesus, instead of softly and gently saying something like “Rise now. You are healed”, commands the lame man to get up and walk. I believe that the man wasn’t leaping for joy because he was comfortable in his sin, and Jesus uses an authoritative tone to demand the man to get up because he was rebuking the lame man for being comfortable in his hopelessness for so long.
…..Sometimes, much like the lame man, we become hopeless about our bondage to sin or our present time of suffering. We are so defeated by the chains of sin and suffering that we get comfortable in the hopelessness, and our desires for redemption and complete freedom ceases to exist. We accept that our suffering and bondage to sin and suffering is simply the way our lives are, and no one can do anything to free us. Jesus rebukes us for finding our rest in our hopelessness because He desperately wants us to find our hope in Him.
…..Jesus reminds us later in John 8:34-36, “I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave to sin. A slave is not a permanent member of the family, but a son is part of the family forever. So if the Son sets you free, you are truly free”. Because we are innately sinful, it is natural for us to become slaves to sin–to give into our flesh constantly. However, when our sole focus is emphasized on the weight of our sin instead of the Liberator—Jesus Christ–who has the power to salvage us, we become lost and we trudge in our misery and hopelessness. Yes, without Jesus, we are forever bonded to sin. But the fact is, we DO in fact have Jesus in our lives, who is more than willing to liberate us from the chains of sin. Amidst the darkest times of pain, suffering, and utter hopelessness, we must steadfastly look to our personal harbinger of hope–Jesus Christ, who CAN and WILL set us free.