Rushing Toward Futility

A sale was conducted earlier this week of used laptop computers. For $50 a person could own what would otherwise cost several hundreds of dollars. It should have surprised no one when thousands of people showed up for the event, far more customers than supply could satisfy. Also predictable was how ugly things got when the gates opened. Pushing, shoving, and rudeness prevailed.
Can you imagine what would happen if a healing event were announced? Whatever disease you might have can be healed — if you happen to be the first one in. Would there be a rush for something like that? Free laptop computers would be ignored if good health was being offered!
That’s the situation we read about in John 5. John described the scene: A pool called Bethesda in the city of Jerusalem surrounded by scores of sick and infirm people. Why were these people waiting beside a pool? Verses 3 and 4 state: ” … waiting for the moving of the water. For an angel went down at a certain time into the pool and stirred up the water; then whoever stepped in first, after the stirring of the water, was made well of whatever disease he had” (NKJV). “First come, first served” would have been the slogan for this event — if it had been true.
The oldest and most reliable manuscripts of the New Testament do not have the words quoted above. It seems obvious to textual scholars that they were added later as an explanation to the paralytic’s words in verse 7: “Sir, I have no man to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up; but while I am coming, another steps down before me.” Most commentators agree that the stirring of the water was probably a myth. But it was a myth that appealed to many who had been dismissed by doctors as hopeless.
It’s no different today. People who have “incurable” (as determined by the medical community) illnesses are prone to reach for alternative cures. Some of these “cures” are far-fetched, and fortunes are spent every year in such searches for something, anything that will restore health and vitality. Those who know the human body and its functioning shake their heads sadly as they watch the rush toward futility.
There is a spiritual counterpart. Around the pool of hope lie many who know the hopelessness of their condition. But instead of turning to the Savior, they wait for someone to lower them into comfort. The water feels good, but there is no healing. In their rush for salvation they have instead found futility.
Jesus’ question is simple and direct: “Do you want to be made well?” (John 5:6) Of course the man wanted to be able to walk. What had been missing during his 38 years of waiting was true power, power from God. Now that Jesus stood before him, the man’s frustrated wait was over.
Do we want to be made well? Don’t follow the crowd as it rushes from one “new cure” to the next. Turn your attention in another direction and see the Lord standing before you — right where he’s always been. Do as the Father instructed Peter: “This is my beloved son, in whom I am well pleased. Hear him!” (Matthew 17:5) Only Jesus can make us well. Do we seek to hear him?
“Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).

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Tim Hall

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