So… this story starts out with Jesus going to a pool where people with all kinds of illnesses and handicaps would lay around waiting for “an angel of the Lord” to come stir the water, then the first person into the water would be healed.
Let’s just take a little side trip for a second. In the age of science that we live in, this story about an angel stirring the water seems a little freaky. For my friend who wants to believe, but just thinks the resurrection story is weird, this little tidbit has to be a stumbling block. I admit, this bothered me too. What you do with this part of the story has a lot to do with what you believe about the Bible as a whole. If you believe that the Bible was basically handed out of the sky as a perfect book divinely written without a comma out of place, you probably aren’t reading my blog and you have no problem with an angel stirring the water, (which admittedly, God could totally do…)
However, if you believe, like I do, that God used a bunch of imperfect messed up people to bring His story to the world, this part of the story is just a little cultural side note instead of an explanation of how water currents work.
Annnnd…on to the important part of the story.
Here is a guy that has been ill for 38 years and he has placed all of his hope into being the first person to make it into the pool. We don’t know how long he had been waiting, but we know the other sick people were shoving past him to be the first into the water. Quite a picture of despair…
This is why I LOVE Jesus… He walked into a group of broken people and found one of the most hopeless of them, healed him and then told him to break one of the common religious rules! It’s like a double whammy of offering a different type of hope. It isn’t in following the crowd or following the rules, hope is in following Jesus…
Then, John goes on to recount how royally p.o.ed the religious leaders of the day were because Jesus not only healed on the Sabbath day, he dared to tell someone to carry a mat on the Sabbath day. I know this seems crazy to us, but back in the day, this created quite the tizzy! Then when the Jews said, “Yo what makes you think you can break our religious rules?” He answers them by basically saying, “You know God? Me and him, we are the same!”
The absolutely cool part about this is how Jesus says, “You want to know what God looks like? Watch me!”
The way I see it, the rest of this passage says: there are tons of cool proofs that Jesus was who he said he was, but here is how John says that Jesus said we should know that Jesus is God:
Vs. 36 The testimony of works: Look at the miracles he did. Living in this Scientific Age, some 2000 years after the occurrence, it’s kind of hard to point to Jesus’ miracles as proof that he was God. Seeing as how we didn’t see them and all. From what I’ve read, the most convincing proof that these miracles happened is the rise of the early church. Basically, something pretty extraordinary had to happen to convince a bunch of poor uneducated dudes to go out and start the first Christian churches (and die for their beliefs). And if the non-believers could have produced Jesus’ body it would have shut down all of the resurrection talk…I’ve read tons of bogs and articles about this line of reasoning which is a great, logical reason to at the very least consider the truth of Christianity.
I’m married to a scientist (turned statistical modeler), that loves the science-y discussions about theology and the order of the universe. I, like those discussions, but LOVE the truth about how Jesus was different from other religious teachers everywhere.
In every recorded miracle, Jesus was reaching out to someone that was considered an outcast in some way. From the man that was ill for 38 years and putting all of his hope into a supposed healing pool to the woman at the well, to the military leader who was working for the enemy, every miracle in each of the gospels raised eyebrows not just because of the miracle-iness, but more because each one gave incredible value to someone that good religious people weren’t supposed to value. That’s the proof I cling to in the miracles. I just want to scream, Go Jesus! You da Man/God!!
Verses 37&38: Do Jesus’ works reflect the character of God as seen in scripture? Did the things that Jesus taught and what he did match the character of God that we see revealed in the Old Testament?
Jesus states that if people had known God, they would have recognized Jesus as his Son.
Just like today, people like to use religion for control and making themselves feel set apart and special.
Yet God isn’t like this at all, throughout scripture, God has constantly chosen the least special people to carry out his work. There’s some pretty messed up stuff happening in the OT stories, like really, really messed up, and God keeps working and reaching out to people.
The history and stories of the OT are violent and crazy, but there is a thread of hope woven through each chapter. That hope isn’t from super religious people who know how to impress God. It’s from a God that refuses to give up on trying to bring people to him. I believe that the stories of Jesus in the New Testament, completely and amazingly portray that same God.
Vs. 39…:Do Jesus’ actions complete the work of God seen in the Old Testament? I wrote earlier, (in my discussion of chapter 1, which I’m sure you’ve read!) about all of the OT prophecies that Jesus fulfilled which is pretty stinking awesome. And it’s also pretty awesome to understand God’s plan through scripture.
Like most religious people, the Jews had made following God all about themselves and what God could do for them.
However, way back in Genesis 28, God revealed his plan to Jacob. Jacob had a dream about a stairway to heaven, which was about the divide between God and man being bridged.
Then, God spoke to Jacob and said that his plan was for Jacob’s descendants to be a blessing to all people.
They kind of fought God in this plan and kept running away from him. And there are tons of wars that are awful but God keeps showing up, bringing people back to him, and defying their expectations by using unlikely people and foreigners…. I just gotta say, Yay God! You rock!
Which brings me to the main reason that I am a Christian. People who don’t know me very well, look at me and think that I’m a Christian because I grew up with Christian parents and never questioned anything.
Which is kind of funny because I question EVERYTHING. I even annoy myself with how much I question everything. I can’t turn it off.
Admittedly, in college, my questions scared me because I like what Jesus stands for and I desperately wanted what he taught to be true. I just couldn’t shut down the questions, especially since my professors kept hounding me with them! So, I went on a search for what I really believed…
In the end, I never quit having questions about Christianity. I think I have more now than I started with!
But, when I consider the universe, I believe there is order and beauty. When I look at humanity, I see problems, injustice, value, purpose, and the possibility of goodness. When I look at myself, I know my heart and my desire to do good and my struggle with evil. I believe there is a purpose in all of this. I believe that there is a Creator and as amazing and awesome as he must be, my only hope of reaching him is if he reaches out to me.
Because I believe this, I see many evidences of his work in my life. I know that his presence helps me change and gives me peace when there is nothing peaceful around me. And I believe that his presence helps me see through people’s messiness and know that there is always hope because there is a God and he sees them and cares about every problem they have.
And it all starts with searching what Jesus did…
I hope my rantings spoke to someone!
Let me know if you liked it…maybe if you didn’t, just be aware that I’m fragile!
I am a really strange mix of a hippie, Calypso, Southern Belle, Madea- wannabe, Christian with the attitude of a Rhode Islander! I’m fascinated with people’s stories, I love to laugh at life with people and I’m genuinely trying to follow Jesus’ teachings. Strangely, my search for truth often has me at odds with American Christians who believe themselves to be the guardians of this truth. I was kicked out of Sunday School as a child for asking too many questions. I learned to repress them but my questions never went away. Thankfully as an adult, I feel completely free to pursue answers. Turns out, God is pretty big and not nearly as upset with my questions as his followers tend to be!