A PARALYZED MAN
In John 5 Jesus met a man who had been paralyzed for 38 years. This man often sat by the pool called Bethesda, because the Lord sent an angel there to stir up the waters and heal those who were in it (v4).
I wasn't surprised that Jesus healed this poor man. But I was a little surprised by what He told the man afterward:
“'Behold, you have become well; do not sin anymore, so that nothing worse happens to you.'" John 5:14 NASB
The thought entered my mind, what could this man have done who was paralyzed all his life which led Jesus to warn him so sternly "Don't sin anymore... lest something worse happen to you"? I pictured this man capable of little, except perhaps for begging for money. So I wondered, what was his great sin?
I believe the answer lies not outwardly, but what was within his heart, and we get a glimpse of this in verse 7:
John 5:7 The sick man answered Him, “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.”
I believe this verse shows an attitude within this man's heart which was one of "I'm the innocent victim. The reason why I have all my problems is because everyone else is selfish. They all won't help me into the pool, and they all cut in front of me when I try to get in myself."
He may have been paralyzed his whole life, but his sin nature and flesh was just as active as anybody else. His body couldn't harm anyone, but self-pity in his heart must have caused him to murmur and grumble and blame just like anybody else.
THE VICTIM VERSUS THE SINNER
And so, his warning from the Lord is one which convicted me - if I have a view of myself as an innocent victim, and anybody else as "the problem", then the Lord has the same fearful warning for me - 'Sin no more (in your heart), lest something worse happen to you.' The only justified (innocent) ones are those who come to the Lord and say, "I'm the problem.. it's not my family or friends or children or spouse, or my coworkers - it's ME. I am the problem" (Luke 18:13-14).
It's tempting to hold grudges and blame when something bad has happened to us. Maybe it wasn’t someone else’s fault and I’m just looking to blame someone, or maybe it was someone else’s fault – maybe they sinned against me, maybe I have been a victim in that way - but I'm definitely not innocent either! And that means I cannot look down on anybody as if I’m better than them.
Matthew 7:1 "Do not judge so that you will not be judged. 2 For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you."
TRUE FAITH PRODUCES OBEDIENCE
One thing I’ve seen in my own life is that when I don’t take a Scripture seriously, then I have to be honest... it must be because I don’t really believe it. I imagine a man who reads Matthew 7:1-2 for the first time, or Matthew 6:14-15 for the first time and takes it at its Word. If he really believes it, he says to himself, “Wow! If there’s even one person I don’t forgive while on here earth, then God won’t forgive me of my sins?! I have to go forgive my enemy right now!” That person would be absolutely radical to make sure that they’re not holding even one ounce against anybody else. If I continue to blame others or hold grudges it must be because I don’t believe what God says.
Praise God that He is absolute love, and His mercy is never-ending. He loves me as much as Jesus (John 17:23)! And it was out of absolute love that Jesus gave such a fearful word to the paralyzed man. It's like this paralyzed man was driving a car straight off a cliff, and Jesus told him sternly, “You’d better turn your wheel the other direction right now, you’re heading for a cliff.” Praise God for His Words to us now, so that we can avoid the cliff of judging and blaming others.
Lord, help me to release any grudge, or unforgiveness or judging I have against every single person on earth, and reject every thought that "I'm the innocent one."