What a fascinating contrast the apostle John provides for us between all the various character in his gospel. He shows us a real mixed bag of people, from all different walks of society.
Rich and poor, respected and outcast, family member and stranger, working class and ruling class, illiterate and educated, friend and enemy.
Each person different from the other in background, experience, nationality, social standing, education, popularity. Truly, Jesus comes for everyone.
But we also see a mixed bag of reactions to Jesus too.
Some are only interested in seeing Jesus perform miracles for them, as if He were the latest circus trick in town. They don’t really care what He has to say.
Others listen to Him and believe, but only with tiny seeds of faith. Many of these will grow in their faith over the course of Jesus’ ministry.
Some – his own mother and brothers and sisters – think He has ‘lost his marbles’ and come to take Him home [see Mark 3:21; John 7:3-5].
Nicodemus – as educated as he is – doesn’t understand Him at all, and while he doesn’t reject Him, he also doesn’t yet believe Him either.
Others, of course, the religious leaders, not only reject Him, but actively plot ways to put Him to death.
And there is the woman at the well and the royal official, who both took Jesus at His word and believed without any sign of a miracle.
John 5 brings us yet another character, and yet another response. Here we read about a man who has been paralysed for 38 years and been laying by the Pool of Bethesda for a long time hoping an angel will come to stir the waters so he could be healed.
But it has been a long time without any hope, without any prospect of healing. And because he’s crippled up and can’t get into the water first, he’ll never be made whole. Doesn’t matter how long he lays there, healing will never be his.
Never, at least, until Jesus comes along.
And with a word, Jesus heals him, telling him to pick up his bed and walk. In a heartbeat, his legs regain their strength and feeling, the muscles bulk up, the tendons stretch back out to the right length, and he stands upright for the first time in almost a lifetime.
So, you’d think he wouldn’t just walk away, but he’d run and jump and dance with joy – and with gratitude.
But here’s the funny thing. There is no suggestion that he appreciated what Jesus had done for him. When the Pharisees question him, he doesn’t respond with any sort of joy.
When Jesus catches up with him later in the Temple, he doesn’t thank Him for what He has done. It never suggests that he believed in Jesus or sought to follow Him. It makes an interesting – and sad – contrast to the man born blind in John 9.
I wonder how grateful we Christians are for the miracle of new life that Jesus has granted us? Do we show our gratitude by the way we live? Or are we careless about how we live. After all, Jesus said to this man, “See, you are well! Sin no more, that nothing worse may happen to you.”
He says it to us too. “See, you are well! Sin no more, that nothing worse may happen to you.” Let us show our gratitude to Him by living a life that honours our Saviour, in the power of His Holy Spirit, and to the glory of the Father.