“Do you want to be healed?” (v. 6)
This Jesus asked the paralyzed man outside the pool of Bethesda — a man who suffered for nearly four decades, without a friend to carry him to the water. He certainly had a need to be healed. But the question posed here is one of DESIRE, and the answer reveals the stark difference between belief and unbelief.
Already at this point in John’s gospel there’s a division between those who desire healing and salvation, and those who don’t. Elsewhere in the gospels, when the Pharisees criticize Jesus for spending time with sinners, Jesus reminds them that only those who are sick need a physician. Those who are “well,” who don’t acknowledge their need, don’t desire a savior.
But for those who do, Jesus satisfies that desire with his own desire to heal and to save. That’s the relationship Jesus has with his people; our desires and his are fulfilled in the wondrous work of salvation.
If the marks of true belief are NEED and DESIRE, then may my answer to Jesus’ question ever and always be “Yes!”
Much like the wedding miracle in Cana, Jesus often worked behind the scenes and purposely far away from those in power. At the faintest whiff of fame, he snuck away to — of all places — Samaria. And there takes place one of my favorite encounters with a sinner, the woman at the well, whose sexual sins, like mine, Jesus knew well, yet he dealt with her so gently. In the end, her testimony of Christ caused many other Samaritans to believe.
Soon after, Jesus offers himself again to the Gentiles with the healing of an official’s son, which also results in belief and salvation. Unlike the Messiah people expected, Jesus performed his miracles in small circles of poor, sick, needy, and unexpected people.
This is good news for those who feel they can’t approach Jesus. His actions in John 4 and throughout the gospels prove his heart is soft toward sinners who know their need for him — and his love is greater than their sin. As A.W. Tozer said, “Jesus Christ knows the worst about you. Nonetheless, He is the one who loves you most.”
“He must increase, but I must decrease.” (v. 30)
The humility of John the Baptist always amazes me. He looked, dressed, and ate like a wild man, and was ridiculed, jailed, and beheaded, yet Jesus said there was “no one greater” than John the Baptist (Matthew 11:11). That’s probably because of John’s laser-focused mission to glorify the Messiah. Although he was related to Jesus by blood, John’s primary role was to prepare the way, which required him to joyfully decrease so that Christ’s glory would increase. He was content to simply be “the friend of the bridegroom” (v. 29). May the same be true of me.
What always surprises me about the story of Jesus turning water into wine in John 2 is how Jesus performs the miracle but it’s the bridegroom who gets the credit.
“When the master of the feast tasted the water now become wine, and did not know where it came from (though the servants who had drawn the water knew), the master of the feast called the bridegroom and said to him, ‘Everyone serves the good wine first, and when people have drunk freely, then the poor wine. But you have kept the good wine until now.’” (v. 9-10)
This is Jesus’ first miracle and yet all the honor goes to the one who did nothing and deserved no praise.
To me, it’s a picture of how God saves us. We’re saved by Christ’s righteousness alone, and yet in the end, because of his work on our behalf, the Father will look at us and say, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”
“Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” (v. 29)
What struck me this time while reading John 1 is the title “Lamb of God.” It’s a phrase I’ve read and sung a thousand times, but today it sprang off the page: Lamb of [belonging to] God.
Unlike the millions of other lambs that came before, which men offered to God, this was God’s very own Lamb, which HE offers to us. Only the Lamb provided by God Himself — who is God Himself — can perfectly atone for our sins.
Jesus is that true and better Lamb.
That’s why John the Baptist cried out, “Behold!” And that’s why, even today, in the midst of our fears and failures, we’re called to do the same.
What a whirlwind, dear readers. (I just accidentally typed “dead readers,” which could be true given how long it’s been since I blogged.) I’ll spare you the details on what I’ve been doing since 2017, because it’s not really that interesting and I assume you’re not here to be bored!
For those eager people, i.e. figments of my imagination, who just happened to drop by to see if I’ve posted any riveting content, I have good news for you! I’ll be sharing mini devotionals EVERY weekday through the month of August. Just bite-size meditations I jotted down while reading and journaling through the Gospel of John.
One little thought per chapter, that’s it.
Oh! And see how short this post is? That’s what you can expect from the 21 nuggets coming your way. They weren’t meant to be full-size blog posts. (They weren’t MEANT to be blog posts at all.) As you may have noticed, blogging hasn’t been on my mind, and I’m not sure when the next gust of inspiration will happen. So, let’s consider these upcoming posts mere tumbleweeds of content blowing through the ghost town of The Happy Alternative.
I’d also love to hear what stood out to YOU as you read and reflect on this beautiful gospel. That’s the great thing about bite-size — there’s always room for more!