Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Why the One?

Picture the scene. A multitude of people--sick, blind, lame, and withered--laying there hoping for a miracle--hoping they would be the first to enter the water after its stirring and experience a healing. Most likely they had their regular places on the side of the pool, with familiar faces and stories next to them. But this day there was a multitude. So, why just the one?

I was in John 5 this morning and that is the question that quickly stirred in my mind after reading the account. The scene was Jerusalem during a time of a Jewish feast, so the crowd was more dense than usual. Here Jesus confronted the one man in the midst of this multitude at a pool named Bethesda. This pool had five porches--according to the text--with it's waters being fed from a nearby spring. It was a place where the sick came in hopes of being healed by the waters. But Jesus only sought out the one.

He could have, with the word of His mouth, healed every ache in sight. But He didn't. He could have touched the water with His hand and cured the seeming incurable. But He didn't. He only made one man well. Why, Lord, why?

Remember, when faced with things beyond our realm of understanding, we go back to what we know. In this case we know something about Jesus' earthly ministry. He came to do the will of the Father and finish His work. (John 4:34) So, what is the will of the Father? That many would be spiritually free to truly worship Him--loving with all their heart, soul, mind, and strength. (John 4:23) Jesus did not intend upon reforming society externally--healing all diseases and crushing social injustice. He came to touch the heart of man, transforming us internally that we might learn what it means to abide in Him.

So why the one? I don't know, but He does. Maybe this was the only one who truly wanted to be healed--all the rest somehow dependent upon their infirmity as a place of identity. Maybe in seeing the hearts of the multitude, He knew that no one else would really believe that He was the Son of God. Maybe it was simply meant to be His example to the religious leaders whom He addressed in the latter half of the text. Regardless of the details we know one thing, this is the one He willed. (John 5:21)

Interestingly Bethesda means "house of mercy." But a pool of water is only a reflection of the greater reality. God Himself authors mercy. As we seek after Him--through the sufferings of this day--He promises to meet us with mercy immeasurable. "I, the Lord your God...(show) mercy to thousands, to those who love me and keep My commandments." (Exodus 20:6) His mercy endures forever. (1 Chronicles 16:34b) When questioning the ways of His hands, we must rest upon the revelation of His heart. He is merciful to those who love Him.

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