Some time later, Jesus went up to Jerusalem for one of the Jewish festivals. Now there is in Jerusalem near the Sheep Gate a pool, which in Aramaic is called Bethesda and which is surrounded by five covered colonnades. Here a great number of disabled people used to lie—the blind, the lame, the paralyzed. One who was there had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him lying there and learned that he had been in this condition for a long time, he asked him, “Do you want to get well?” “Sir,” the invalid replied, “I have no one to help me into the pool when the water is stirred. While I am trying to get in, someone else goes down ahead of me.” Then Jesus said to him, “Get up! Pick up your mat and walk.” At once the man was cured; he picked up his mat and walked. The day on which this took place was a Sabbath, (John 5:1-3, 5-9 NIV)
How many times aree we guilty of giving excuses of why we didn't accomplish something, get well, or make it out of our tribulation successfully? How long have I been complaining that people are jumping ahead of me when all I had to do was listen to Jesus all along?
Unfortunately, the man doesn't quite get what happened and Jesus probably allowed this to happen for the illlustration for the disciples watching and, of course, all of us reading this.
The story goes on like this:
and so the Jewish leaders said to the man who had been healed, “It is the Sabbath; the law forbids you to carry your mat.” But he replied, “The man who made me well said to me, ‘Pick up your mat and walk.’ ” So they asked him, “Who is this fellow who told you to pick it up and walk?” The man who was healed had no idea who it was, for Jesus had slipped away into the crowd that was there. Later Jesus found him at the temple and said to him, “See, you are well again. Stop sinning or something worse may happen to you.” The man went away and told the Jewish leaders that it was Jesus who had made him well. (John 5:10-15 NIV)
Instead of this man, being thankful or even realizing that Jesus' words healed him, he continued in his ways of blaming other people. The Jewish leaders, always stuck in their Jewish law instead of the service God wanted them to provide, accuses him of carrying his mat on the Sabbath. He again provides an excuse and blames Jesus; however, he didn't even know who Jesus was or check to see who the man was who healed him.
I can picture Jesus running into him at the temple, probably shaking his head a bit and saying, "See, you are well again. Stop sinning (stop blaming others or giving excuses) or something worse may happen to you." Then, the man goes and tells the Jewish leaders it was Jesus. Did he do this to make sure the Jewish leaders would put blame on Jesus on not on him? How many times do we do that in our own lives? I know I have been guilty too many times of this.
When I have read this miracle before, I wondered why Jesus picked such an ingrateful person to heal out of all of the people at the pool of Bethesda. It has to be to illustrate to the discipals and to all reading the story how we all try to provide excuses and place blame elsewhere instead of taking our own responsibility. We also need to remember that Jesus is right there in every situation giving us an opportunity to do serve him and illustrate his love and humbliness.
In the sermon on the Mount, Jesus teaches the discipals the qualities we should all strive to have:
Now when Jesus saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to him, and he began to teach them. He said: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you. (Matthew 5:1-12 NIV)
We can choose to have these qualities or choose to be a victim. We can choose to be Christlike or blame others and give excuses for our tribulations. Watch this video: