He stood out like a sore thumb. It was the Sabbath day and he was the only person in the temple area carrying his bed-roll. The Jewish leaders quickly spotted the man and confronted him. Those leaders had a strict set of rules that were meant to be followed – no excuses. But there was a reason this man was carrying his mattress.
For thirty eight years he had been afflicted by a condition that nearly paralyzed him. The doctors could do nothing for him so the man put his hopes in the miracles that sometimes happened at the Pool of Bethesda.
On that same Sabbath day Jesus came to the pool and moved among the afflicted who sat in the porticoes. The man had never seen him before. He didn’t know who he was, but Jesus stopped to talk to him. Before he knew it his life was restored. His body was whole again. For the first time in nearly four decades he could live normally. In a few simple words everything changed, “Take up your pallet and walk.” So the man rolled up his mattress and strolled out into the Jerusalem streets without another word.
He was glad to be well and it didn’t seem to matter how he got there. His focus was on the cure, not the cure giver. He was eager to take his mattress home and start a new life. But suddenly, he stood in front of a gang of frowning Jewish leaders trying to explain. So instead of praising his healer he blamed Him. They pressed him for a name but the man didn’t know. He never asked. He didn’t care.
A little while latter Jesus found him in the temple and warned him that his heart was in the wrong place. Once again the man said nothing while he slithered away to make the Jewish leaders aware that it was Jesus they were looking for. He didn’t want trouble with the Jewish leaders, so he sold out the man that made him well.
Neither the leaders nor the healed man understood. They couldn’t see it. The deaf joined with the hard of hearing. The blind tried to guide the sightless. Without realizing it they were afflicted with the worst possible condition – they lived in a spiritual stupor.
When they found Jesus He tried to help them see, but all they did was cover the opening of their hearts. To them it made no sense - and it wouldn’t. The things Jesus spoke were spiritual and these guys were anything but spiritual. The wisdom Jesus articulated was heavenly. But the wisdom of these men didn’t leave the boundaries of this world. They ignored all the witnesses. John the Baptist, the profits, God Himself, the scriptures, even Moses tried to make it clear. Jesus and the Father were one! But they wouldn’t believe it. Their hearts were sealed drums.
“But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.” 1 Cor 2:14-15 NKJV
The spirit of the man only knows the man. A man is the only one who knows his own deepest thoughts. In the same way the Spirit of God knows God completely. A heart that has and desires the Spirit of God can receive what the natural man cannot.
These Jewish leaders didn’t get it - nor did they want to. Jesus was the central theme of all the scripture they studied. The promised messiah was right there in front of them - but they couldn’t recognize Him. Their hearts were closed.
The man who was healed didn’t get it – nor did he care to. He saw life through the lens of his own troubles. His long affliction had left him hard of heart. When he was made well there was no gratitude for the One that set him free, and no desire to get to know Him. His hardened heart took his gift and left.
A heart that is open can be filled. A heart that is closed will receive nothing. God’s word opens up mysteries that the natural man could never understand. A heart open to that word will find the life that only the Spirit of God can give.
"Open my eyes, that I may see wondrous things from Your law." Ps 119:18 NKJV
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