The Captive Heart- John 5:2-9

Now there is at Jerusalem by the sheep market a pool, which is called in the Hebrew tongue Bethesda, having five porches.
In these lay a great multitude of impotent folk, of blind, halt, withered, waiting for the moving of the water.
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.
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.
Jesus saith unto him, Rise, take up thy bed, and walk.
And immediately the man was made whole, and took up his bed, and walked: and on the same day was the sabbath.

COMMENTARY

Sir, I have no man, when the water is troubled, to put me into the pool
Previously I examined our reluctance to admit when we are wounded or broken. But then, even when we are willing to admit as much, we still might struggle to know what to do with that fact. Once we know that we have a problem we tend to look for solutions, but if the correct solution is not immediately evident, we usually end up chasing fruitless remedies, or trying to medicate the pain with addiction and disconnection.
Such was the man at the pool of Bethesda, forever waiting for a healing that he was incapable of receiving. It was the place to go, the thing to do, the world’s solution for his problem. But it just wasn’t going to work for him.

When Jesus saw him lie, he saith unto him, Wilt thou be made whole?
The man could not find his healing, because he could not meet the terms under which it was doled out. He was physically incapable of finding success. I have felt the same when I have said to myself I need to be healed by God, but I have to earn it first by becoming perfect. This is a physical impossibility, and if I insist on this path, I will only ensure that I am never healed.
Jesus comes with another offer, comes with terms that each of us can meet. It is simple: “wilt thou be made whole?” The simplicity of the way often makes us skeptical. True healing and change cannot come so freely we think. And normally, no, true healing isn’t and can’t be so free in our fallen world. That is why we call it a miracle.

The Captive Heart- Mark 2:17

When Jesus heard it, he saith unto them, They that are whole have no need of the physician, but they that are sick: I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.

COMMENTARY

They that are whole have no need of the physician
When Jesus told Peter “if I wash thee not, thou hast no part with me” (John 13:8), he was repeating a message that he had already shared before. Those who are whole do not need the doctor, those that are perfect do not require repentance, those that are clean do not need to be washed. But if you are not broken, or if you are not dirty, or if you are not sick…then you have nothing to do with Jesus, for that is who he came for.
I have recognized in myself the desire to not be a bother to my Savior. I yearn to be totally perfect so that he doesn’t have to be burdened by the weight of my soul. I think it is a good thing he suffered and died for the world…but I don’t want the guilt of knowing that he suffered and died for me.
And so I say to him the same thing that we say to each other any time our emotional wounds come up. “I’m fine, I’m totally fine. I’ve had some rough stuff in the past, but,” shrug “it weren’t nothing.” We are too afraid to admit that we have been hurt and hurt deeply. Afraid to show that we are broken. Afraid to admit that we are not okay.
We’re fine, we’re totally fine. And so long as that is our claim, Jesus sighs, smiles sadly, and says “thou hast no part with me.”

The Captive Heart- John 13:6-8

Then cometh he to Simon Peter: and Peter saith unto him, Lord, dost thou wash my feet?
Jesus answered and said unto him, What I do thou knowest not now; but thou shalt know hereafter.
Peter saith unto him, Thou shalt never wash my feet. Jesus answered him, If I wash thee not, thou hast no part with me.

COMMENTARY

Peter saith unto him, Thou shalt never wash my feet.
Jesus answered him, If I wash thee not, thou hast no part with me.
I always wanted a teacher and a mentor in Jesus, someone who was could come and show me how to do things right, someone that would motivate me to overcome my flaws. But I always struggled to receive kindness from others, even from my Savior. Kindness is healing, and healing hurts.
I have heard it best described as an intense light that scorches and burns away festers and barnacles. My shame and my wounds run their roots deep into me, and I feel it when they are pried off. It is painful…but it is a good and healing pain.
For though it is hard to take the scrubbing, I always feel so clean and refreshed afterwards. My Savior does not only purge out the refuse, he also applies balms and oils, binds up the wounds carefully, places pillows under my head and feet, and dresses me in new, comfortable robes.
With strength and decisiveness he purifies me, but then with utmost love he cares for me.

The Captive Heart- Luke 4:18

The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised.

COMMENTARY

He hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor
He hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted
To preach deliverance to the captives
Recovering of sight to the blind
Set at liberty them that are bruised

After fasting for forty days Jesus officially began his mortal ministry He did so by formally announcing who he was, the Son of God, and clearly laying out exactly what he was here to do. In this moment he was essentially giving his divine mission statement to the world. And in all of the stated objectives that he gave there was a common theme of healing the people who are hurt.
But he didn’t just want to do good., Jesus further specified that he was anointed and sent of God. Thus his desire was united with power. He can help us, and he wants to. There remains only one other variable then, and it is the one that is determined by us: will we let him help us?

Seeking Spiritual Witnesses- Matthew 9:20-22

And, behold, a woman, which was diseased with an issue of blood twelve years, came behind him, and touched the hem of his garment:
For she said within herself, If I may but touch his garment, I shall be whole.
But Jesus turned him about, and when he saw her, he said, Daughter, be of good comfort; thy faith hath made thee whole. And the woman was made whole from that hour.

COMMENTARY

For she said within herself, If I may but touch his garment, I shall be whole
Daughter, be of good comfort; thy faith hath made thee whole
The woman with the issue of blood being healed is further evidence that we can seek specific blessings and witnesses from God. She felt in her heart what she needed to do to receive from God, she acted on that knowledge, and her faith was rewarded.
When I was young, I would try to ask for things of God, and I would pile upon the request every ounce of believing that I could muster. Then, if I did not receive, I felt convinced that I had not possessed enough faith. In my childhood mind, faith was a sort of currency, and if one just had enough of it they could get whatever they wanted.
I do not believe that God is opposed to us asking Him for our wants, but we should understand that His answer might be yes or no. In fact His answer might be nothing at all, simply to let the matter unfold naturally without any intervention.
But sometimes it isn’t just a want. Sometimes we know in our bones that there is something our soul needs. And we know that it isn’t only something that we want for ourselves, but that God wants for us, too. I suspect that the woman with the issue of blood might have known, as in really known, that God wanted her to be healed, and that touching Jesus’s garment would effect that. In my life I have really known that God was ready to heal me of my shame and addictions, and I knew what actions I needed to take to receive that blessing. I did not wonder in those moments whether God would meet my reaching. I had the reassuring confidence that if I would act, then my faith would be rewarded. And it was.

Finding Our Purpose- 2 Chronicles 1:7-8, 10-12; Mark 10:49-52

In that night did God appear unto Solomon, and said unto him, Ask what I shall give thee.
And Solomon said unto God, Give me now wisdom and knowledge, that I may go out and come in before this people: for who can judge this thy people, that is so great?
And God said to Solomon, Wisdom and knowledge is granted unto thee;

And Jesus stood still, and commanded him to be called. And they call the blind man, saying unto him, Be of good comfort, rise; he calleth thee.
And he, casting away his garment, rose, and came to Jesus.
And Jesus answered and said unto him, What wilt thou that I should do unto thee? The blind man said unto him, Lord, that I might receive my sight.
And Jesus said unto him, Go thy way; thy faith hath made thee whole. And immediately he received his sight, and followed Jesus in the way.

COMMENTARY

Give me wisdom, for who can judge this thy people, that is so great?
And immediately he received his sight, and followed Jesus in the way.
Sometimes we want to follow the vocation God has for us, but we have some blocker in our way. Consider Solomon, called to lead the nation of Israel, but lacking the requisite wisdom to do so. Or Bartimaeus, who had the heart of a disciple, but lacked the ability to even see which way he walked. These men were transformed so that they could answer the call in their hearts.
It is the same for us. When Jesus comes to heal or strengthen us, it empowers us to answer our calling. I once felt blocked in my own discipleship by a misguided fear. I’ll explain more of that later, but that confusion was corrected in me so that I could fully commit to my discipleship.
If you feel like there is a purpose that you are meant to fill, but that you just can’t for some reason, you may not be wrong. Perhaps you truly are being blocked. But then ask God to deliver you from your constraint. Why wouldn’t He help you to perform the very task for which He made you?

The Family of God- Luke 22:24-26, Romans 12:3-6

And there was also a strife among them, which of them should be accounted the greatest.
And he said unto them, The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them; and they that exercise authority upon them are called benefactors.
But ye shall not be so: but he that is greatest among you, let him be as the younger; and he that is chief, as he that doth serve.

For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith.
For as we have many members in one body, and all members have not the same office:
So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another.
Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us.

COMMENTARY

And there was also a strife among them, which of them should be accounted the greatest
We have a common insecurity. We all want to be the best, the smartest, the favorite. We want to be the hero of the story, and have everyone else be the supporting characters. We fight for the love of parents, teachers, coaches, and mentors. We don’t just want them to approve of us, we want them to choose us above all others.
To be clear, our individuality is not a sin. There is nothing wrong in wanting to be a distinct person, in fact that uniqueness is a wondrous gift from God. But we do not need to convolute that beauty by making it into a competition.
Perhaps this insecurity is part of our nature, or maybe it is inflicted on us by life’s disappointments. Whatever the cause, at some point or another we grow uncertain either that we are unique, or that our uniqueness is good. So what does one do with this insecurity?

Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us
The scriptures might not support us in trying to be better than one another, but this one does give us permission to be better at some things. You can honestly and proudly acknowledge that you really do have your own strengths. Your special abilities distinguish you from the rest of the world in wonderful ways.
It is not God’s intention for you to live crippled by your insecurities. He wants to give you have a one-of-a-kind role to play, one suited to your unique and precious talents. Then, by acknowledging your divine individuality, you will finally be able to let go of your insecurities and allow that everyone else can have their own individuality as well.

Service to Others- Luke 10:34-37

And went to him, and bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine, and set him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn, and took care of him.
And on the morrow when he departed, he took out two pence, and gave them to the host, and said unto him, Take care of him; and whatsoever thou spendest more, when I come again, I will repay thee.
Which now of these three, thinkest thou, was neighbour unto him that fell among the thieves?
And he said, He that shewed mercy on him. Then said Jesus unto him, Go, and do thou likewise.

COMMENTARY

And went to him, and bound up his wounds
Go, and do thou likewise

What was it that the Samaritan did for the wounded man? Binding wounds, healing and anointing him, carrying his burden, placing him in safety…he gave him the sustenance of life.
When Jesus told us to “go and do likewise” I don’t think his injunction was only to watch out for men dying on the side of the road. I mean, yeah, if we ever see that we should do something about it! But more generally I believe he is asking us to give the sustenance of life to others.
And as we do so, we should remember that not all wounds are visible and not all hungers make a noise. Just as people need food and drink, they also need to feel seen, appreciated, heard, and wanted. And these are the needs that people are usually the most starved for, because these are the ones they cannot give to themselves.
We have an epidemic of emotionally dehydrated people. Every now and again one of them will cry for help, but more often they stay quiet, walking around and looking “perfectly fine” on the outside.
When you give service to others it isn’t just “doing something nice,” it is literally preserving life.

The Lord Sees You- Mark 5:25, 27-34

And a certain woman, which had an issue of blood twelve years,
When she had heard of Jesus, came in the press behind, and touched his garment.
For she said, If I may touch but his clothes, I shall be whole.
And straightway the fountain of her blood was dried up; and she felt in her body that she was healed of that plague.
And Jesus, immediately knowing in himself that virtue had gone out of him, turned him about in the press, and said, Who touched my clothes?
And his disciples said unto him, Thou seest the multitude thronging thee, and sayest thou, Who touched me?
And he looked round about to see her that had done this thing.
But the woman fearing and trembling, knowing what was done in her, came and fell down before him, and told him all the truth.
And he said unto her, Daughter, thy faith hath made thee whole; go in peace, and be whole of thy plague.

COMMENTARY

And his disciples said unto him, Thou seest the multitude thronging thee, and sayest thou, Who touched me?
I’ve always been impressed how this story illustrates the Savior’s ability to tell the difference between those that brush by him and those that touch him. To the disciples it was impossible to distinguish between the multitude and the one, but to the Savior the distinction was entirely clear.
To this day many people throng around Jesus, but our desire is to be one of the ones that reach out and actually connect with him, and our hope is that he will recognize us when we do.
Personally I can attest that there is a real difference between the two. I’ve been the individual who meanders around Jesus, thoughtlessly going to church and saying my prayers only because it is “what I’m supposed to do.” But I’ve also been the one that desperately needed healing and reached out in hope that he was really there for me. Having felt the sweet reassurance of the latter, I never want to go back to the first.

The Resurrecting and Enabling Power of Jesus- Summary

As with all gospel studies it is the life experience that matters more than the cognitive understanding. Knowing that Jesus can heal and even resurrect our broken hearts, minds, and bodies is valuable, but far more important is to actually feel this revitalizing influence in our lives. I have certainly felt him lift my weary spirit, restore my broken innocence, and embolden me to become more than I ever was before. While reading stories of how Jesus did the same for others in his day, I find myself seeing myself in their faces.

Jesus Can Heal Anyone of Anything

The scriptures “are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name” (John 20:31). Accordingly we have examples of Jesus healing the feverish, the blind, the lame, the possessed, and the dead. He encourages the brokenhearted, and restores guilty soul. He is not limited by the type of anguish, he is not limited by the magnitude of anguish.
In a world filled with people that cannot meet our every need it can be difficult to wholly trust in anyone. It is not surprising that it might go against our cynicism to believe that the Savior can save us. And that is why the first requirement of the gospel is simply to have faith.
Mark 9:18, 27- I spake to thy disciples that they should cast him out; and they could not. Jesus took him by the hand, and lifted him up; and he arose.

All That is Required is Our Faith and His Will

Time and time again Jesus assured the recently-healed that it was their faith which set them free. Certainly he possessed the healing power, but because he respects his children he doesn’t force his healing on those who cannot accept it. He illustrated this centuries earlier when he instructed Moses to raise a bronze serpent and instruct the sick Israelites to look to it for healing. The bronze serpent is already there, it’s just up to us to reach to it.
Mark 5:34- Daughter, thy faith hath made thee whole; go in peace, and be whole of thy plague.
Mark 1:40-41- If thou wilt, thou canst make me clean. And Jesus, moved with compassion, put forth his hand, and touched him, and saith unto him, I will; be thou clean.

The Healing Will be Fitted to the Individual

If you read through the miracles of Jesus to find a specific formula to them you are going to be disappointed. Well, as we just said in the previous section there’s the necessity of him authorizing the healing of the individual, and the individual having faith in that healing, but after those criteria are met there’s no telling what the rest of the method will be.
The woman with an issue of blood believed she would be healed if she touched the robes of Jesus…and she was right. The centurion believed Jesus could just say the word and his servant would be healed…and he was right. Jairus felt that if Jesus came and laid hands on his daughter then she would be healed…and he was right.
In the ending being healed is a very personal thing. Our wounds are individual, and our restoration should be as well. I don’t hurt the same way you hurt, and I don’t want your healing. I’m so very grateful for a Savior that administers to me personally.
Matthew 14:28-29- And Peter answered him and said, Lord, if it be thou, bid me come unto thee on the water. And he said, Come.
Mark 5:28-29- For she said, If I may touch but his clothes, I shall be whole. And straightway the fountain of her blood was dried up; and she felt in her body that she was healed of that plague.