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Categorized | From the Pulpit

The Whole thing

Pastor Richard Nichols 

Cedar Creek Community Church

14 Mile Rd NE, Sparta

Among the many promises Jesus gives us in the New Testament (covenant), is “By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another” (John 13:35 King James translation).  Not only do we have his words, but Jesus always led by example.  

Earlier in the gospel of John, Jesus and his disciples had come up to Jerusalem at a time of a feast of the Jews.  In keeping with Jesus’ manner of ministering, they came to the pool of Bethesda, near the sheep market, where there lay a great multitude of impotent folks, blind, halt, withered along with other infirmities, waiting for the moving of the water.  At a certain season, an angel would trouble the water, and the first person who stepped in was made whole, whatsoever disease he had.  

We read that on this particular sabbath day, “And a certain man was there, which had an infirmity thirty and eight years.  When Jesus saw him lie, and knew that he had been now a long time in that case, he saith unto him, “Wilt thou be made whole?” (John 5:5-6; KJV).  In the following conversation, he told Jesus that he had no one to help him, and by the time he could get to the water, someone else stepped into the pool and was healed. 

This interaction would have taken a couple of minutes, but after he told Jesus his circumstance, “Jesus saith unto him, Rise, take up thy bed, and walk. And immediately the man was made whole, and took up his bed and walked: and on the same day was the sabbath” (John 5:8-9 KJV).  This scripture has always gotten my attention. The word whole is the effect of the healing; Jesus asked the man if he wanted to be made whole; and when the man obeyed Jesus’ command to take up his bed and walk, immediately the man was made whole.  

Whole is a word that means “all of” or “entire” when used as an adjective, and “a thing that is complete in itself” when used as a noun. Humans are born in one piece and depending upon how your life goes, most of us remain whole, at least on the outside. This man was in one piece, but we all know people who aren’t able to navigate because some part(s) of the body just don’t work like we might think of as normal. But this man, after 38 years of bearing this infirmity, was able, by his obedience to Jesus’ command, to rise up and walk.  

Whatever needs to be overcome, there is none more powerful than Jesus. Fear, doubt, addiction, anger, tolerance, prejudice, pain, impatience, we could each add to this list of physical and spiritual infirmities.  What strikes me in this encounter, is that the man did not complain of suffering, no self-pity, no cry of foul play; merely, “I have no one to put me in the water.” Jesus knew his needs intimately, just as he knows yours and mine. It is notable that this man was lying at the pool of Bethesda, before Jesus came God incarnate to a manger in Bethlehem.

One of the lessons for us today, is that this person’s infirmity didn’t prevent him from keeping on for 38 years. Being broken is not always visible to others around us, but Jesus knows and cares; and tells us to “come unto me, and I will give you rest.”   

“Wilt thou be made whole?”  

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Ray Winnie
Intandem Credit Union


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