We have certain vanities we possess today like having a large bank account or having a certain position at our job. So what vanity are you tempted to trust instead of Jesus? What do you think will make your life more satisfying? What do you think will heal you? It might not be magic water anymore, as we see in our Gospel lesson from Sunday in John 5:1-18. But we often trade it for something else. Do you think that our greatest hope as Christians is a politician? Or is that certain laws in Congress get passed? Or do you think you will be healed simply by having positive thoughts about yourself. That if you can just get your self-esteem high enough, you’ll be saved, you’ll be good to go. Believing in Christ changes our hearts to have hope in the only person, the only one, that can truly make us well.
Unbelief paralyzes and blinds us in that we end up trusting only that which does not last. It limits our trust to vain hopes. We see this in the 5th chapter of the Gospel of John from the sermon this past Sunday. When Jesus asks the man in John 5:6 if he wants to be healed what’s the man’s response in verse 7? “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.” You see what’s going on here? There’s the expectation that the first one to get into the pool gets healed. So, when Jesus offers this man a chance to be healed, a man that has been sitting lame by the pool for 38 years, this guy’s response is, I trust that water. His unbelief has limited his faith to the things that are in this world. He can’t trust in Jesus as he is limited to only trust in the emptiness of some sort of magic water that is sitting there. What is your magic water that you turn to instead of Jesus?
So, here we see the paralyzing effects of unbelief. It makes us unable to see grace. It limits our trust into that which is vain. It confines us to fear. And it makes us the authority. It blinds us to what God wants for us. Today, realize that the man and the Jews we see in this story represent you and me. Not necessarily that we are unbelievers, but that unbelief holds us back from all that Jesus wants us to see. That even in the moments when we struggle with unbelief, Jesus still is the one who died and was raised for us to be free from that unbelief and redeemed from it.
So today, Jesus offers us healing. Not necessarily physical healing though it might be that. But Jesus is offering us a better restoration than that. He’s offering us restoration from our unbelief. He’s giving us a chance to see grace and to thereby trust him rather than the world. Have you gone year after year without receiving spiritual healing? God is capable of freeing you, but you may have become comfortable as you sit by your pool of magic water. You may not want to be healed but if you do, God can give it today. He wants you to ask him.
Blessings, Rev. Tim Pearce