MYRA D. COLGATE
During the time of a Jewish feast Jesus had gone up to Jerusalem. There is a pool near the Sheep Gate with five covered colonnades, called Bethesda. Here a great number of disabled persons used to lie—the sick, the lame, the blind, and the paralyzed. One who was there had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him lying there and realized he had been disabled for a long time, asked him,
“Do you want to get well?”
(“The question was important because the man had not asked Jesus for help, and a beggar of that day could lose a sometimes profitable (and easy) income if he were cured, or perhaps he had simply lost the will to be cured.”)
“The man replied, ‘Sir, 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.’”
(“…’when the water is stirred….’ The man did not see Jesus as a potential healer, and his mind was set on the supposed curative powers of the water.”)
“Jesus said to him, ‘Get up! Pick up your mat and walk.’ At once the man was cured, he picked up his mat and walked.
“The man was cured. The day was a Sabbath and so the Jews said to the man who was healed. “It is the Sabbath: the law forbids you to carry your mat.” But he replied, ‘The man who made me well said to me, ‘Pick up your mat and walk.’”)
So they asked him ‘who was it who told you to pick it up and walk?’
“The man who was healed had no idea who it was, for Jesus had slipped away in the crowd that was there.”
“Later Jesus found him at the temple and said to him, ‘See, you are well again. Stop sinning or something worse may happen to you.’”
(“…’something worse…’ The eternal consequences of sin are more serious than any physical ailment.’”)
To choose to sin or not to sin…that is the only right that is freely granted to us. Along with that freedom, should come the understanding that there is also the responsibility to make them our own good choices. Good choices can make your life here a life lived in peace and contentment. Why would anyone deliberately choose to sin, especially when they actually realize the resulting consequences would also be sure to follow them and will, for certain, overtake them? They really do follow us and our choices. Whenever we would have made a bad choice regarding sin, be sure that it would be our own choice—our own responsibility. God does not choose, we are the ones who choose!
None of us get to choose every decision’s full consequences, either. If our choice sets the consequences into motion, only God has the sovereignty, authority, knowledge, power and might to rule over what the consequences of our choices we make in our individual situations will be. (He also can even overrule our choices when we also ask Him to do so in great meekness and humbleness of heart. We also must remember that every bad choice and the resulting consequences will also affect any and all of those we love and care about, too. Needless to say, it will even affect everyone around us, whether we meant to harm them or not.)
Under the Law, there were few mitigating circumstances that could bring forgiveness for wrong decisions made, and judgment would be swift. The priests would examine each sacrificial animal for any flaws or blemishes and would accept only a perfectly unblemished one to die in a sinner’s place. (Note: the person bringing the sacrifice to the priest would not be examined—only his or her sacrifice was what was examined. If accepted, the sinner would only be forgiven for that year.)
However, under the Grace of God, because of Jesus having received our sins into His own earthly body, He received our deserved punishment for our choices, He paid our full ransom with His own Blood. We can choose to acknowledge Him as our sacrificial Lamb and make the great exchange of receiving Him as Lord of our lives. With a meaningful promise of serving Him, and living our lives for Him as He requests, forever, we make choices that honor Him—sinning less and less—and His Body’s sacrifice can still bring healing, too.