In John chapter 5 we find one of the most telling stories in all of scripture concerning the preeminent difference that Christ makes. As a matter of fact what we find is that Christ really is the only difference that is made.
When we look across the religious landscape of the world today it seems as though there is an ocean of faiths to choose from. When we look a little closer you’re going to find that there are not really a lot of religions in the world. Truth be told, there is really only two religions in the world. True and False. There is one dividing line between the two.
In the story that is found in John 5 we are shown the event that took place at the pool of Bethesda. The pool of Bethesda was a place in which sick people gathered and waited for the “moving of the waters.” The Apostle John explains in John 5:4 how the scenario would work. He said, “For an angel went down at a certain season into the pool, and troubled the water: whosoever then first after the troubling of the water stepped in was made whole of whatsoever disease he had.” You get the picture.
In the verses that follow we are introduced to a man who had been infirmed for 38 years, and hoping desperately to be made whole by the waters. Verses 5 thru 7 tell us his story. “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? The impotent man answered him, Sir, I have no man, when the water is troubled, to put me into the pool: but while I am coming, another steppeth down before me.”
Truly a sad state of affairs to say the least. When we look at this story though, there is a tragedy that goes far beyond the infirmity of this man. It is against the darkness of this tragedy that we can see the brightness of the glory of Christ and the difference that He truly made. I want to give you three reasons that this angel wasn’t all he was made out to be. This was one of the devil’s dirty deceivers who was out to fool frail and weak faithed people. Let me show you why that is the case.
#1 This Messenger was Graceless
Notice who the healing went to, only the best of the worst. The “grace” in this miracle was only to the fastest, and given to the strongest. The first person in the water was the one who was blessed. No where in scripture are you going to find where God only blesses the best and brightest. As a matter of fact you are going to find quite the opposite. Paul recorded Jesus words in 2 Corinthians 12:9, “My strength is made perfect in weakness.” All throughout the Old Testament and the New we see God “gracing” and “being glorified” in people of weakness and infirmity. Gideon’s army was too big and mighty for God to use. Elijah’s altar wasn’t wet enough to burn. Paul summed up God’s way of doing things in 1 Corinthians 1:26-29 when he wrote, “For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called: But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are: That no flesh should glory in his presence. ” Now that being said, this entire ordeal doesn’t match with God’s way of doing things. Any ideology that only blesses the survival of the fittest is not the ideology of the Lord.
#2 The Miracle was Changeless
There is a message in every miracle, and there is power in every grace that God bestows. If I were to interview this man pertaining to this situation, my first question would be, “where are all the people who have been healed before you?”
It seems that they were hauled in, healed up, and hurried off. Why did not one person there that received a healed body demonstrate a helpful heart? Because there was no real change in them. When Christ heals someone, and changes someone they are changed from the inside out, and not the outside in. It seems that this miracle was for the body but not the soul. If there is no inner transformation then outer reformation is completely irrelevant. Make no mistake about it, God does heal. The reality though is that when God works, He does His deepest work in our deepest parts. He truly changes us.
#3 The Medicine was Christless
Do you notice what is missing in the story? Jesus never acknowledged the angel, and the angel never acknowledged Jesus. The entire premise of the promise of the waters was that healing was the reward of the fastest. It offered Worth by Works, and Jesus had nothing to do with it.
As a matter of fact when you look at the story again, you’ll find that Jesus appeared, ministered to the man, and departed. The entire event was actually two events. Hell’s Angel was moving waters and deceiving people. Heaven’s Answer was ministering to a man in desperate need.
The reality of all that is this. Jesus is the only real change. Not one other person who was “healed” was “changed” This man alone was made whole. There may be a plethora of “angels” and “stirring waters” that have captured the minds and attentions of multitudes of people in this world, but that doesn’t mean that there is any real eternal change in their ministry. The dividing line is Christ Jesus.
His ministry is through Grace alone. If you deserve it you cannot have it.
His ministry is to Change your life. Not just your lifestyle, but your life. No man knows how to live until He knows how to die, and Christ Jesus changes both.
Jesus is the only Change Worth Making, because He is the only real change at all.