The whole world throws a party! It is New Year. If one would like to sit glued to the television you can observe the celebration by fireworks in the various time zones, countdown upon countdown. Lots of bottle popping, elegant parties, drunken parties, dance parties, dress up parties and a public holiday to pick up the pieces and start the year which was so welcomed a few hours previously. Many a heavy sigh is heard in the unseen as the burden of life descends and weighs on the minds and hearts of people.
Has anything changed? Is anything new?
New could mean two things. It could mean: neos – more of the same depicting quantity as in a new pencil but many others already exist or: –
kainos – unique, has never been, depicting quality as in one of a kind.
Is this year going to be the same as always? Are you looking forward to something that has never been; never seen in this world before?
John 5 states that Jesus attended the feast.
After this there was a feast of the Jews, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem…
There were three Jewish feasts that were an obligation to Jews living within a fifteen mile radius of Jerusalem: Passover, Pentecost and the Feast of the Tabernacles – two in Spring and one in the Fall. Passover was mid-April and Pentecost seven weeks later. Jesus delighted in the Feasts. Every feast is fulfilled in Him.
The Hebrew word for “feasts” (moadim) literally means “appointed times.” God has carefully planned and orchestrated the timing and sequence of each of these seven feasts to reveal to us a special story. “God’s parties” remind us of His lovingkindness, His provision, His unmerited grace throughout the calendar year. God’s year is marked by seven parties.
The seven feasts of the Jewish calendar all found fulfillment in Jesus. The Feast of the Unleavened bread depicts Jesus’ sinless life, the Passover depicts the Lamb that was slain and the Firstfruits depict the resurrection. Just as the first sheaf of the harvest is waved before the High Priest so Jesus was glorified in heaven after the resurrection as the first fruit of the Church. Pentecost celebrates the Holy Spirit and the birth of the Church.
The Feast of the Trumpets depicts the announcement through the prophets and the Church of His atonement and second coming), the Atonement (Yom Kippur) depicts the character of the Church as a repenting and forgiven people and the Feast of the Tabernacles depicts the reign of joy and peace through the Church and the wedding feast of the Second Coming).
Feasts are anointed parties, consciously celebrating blessing. We should build them into our year and if we have children or family with us, we should include them when we dish up something special. Just a meal together is marked by the testimony of God’s grace. Blessed is he, who distinguishes between the holy and the ordinary. Make the ordinary holy. Holy means to set it apart for a specific purpose. It is not something falsely elevated to be boring or unreachable. Just go ahead and declare an ordinary meal a celebration of blessing. Say it with joy and praise God in the process.
Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.
Jesus enters Jerusalem through the sheep gate. It is the gate through which the lambs entered, destined to be slaughtered at the Temple at Passover. He fulfills the symbol of the slain Lamb.
Bethesda could mean House of Mercy or Bethzatha, which means House of the Olive. The pool was deep enough to swim in. Beneath the pool was a sub stream that bubbled now and then. According to the superstition it was believed that an angel stirs the water and the first person to jump in would be healed.
Sound like superstition, but such beliefs were rife in those days. Ancient people were impressed with holy waters. Water was precious and the people held a certain reverence for water.
Jesus was the friend of the friendless. The man had nobody to help. He did not lecture him on his belief in the useless superstition. Jesus just went ahead and healed him.
Events unfolded and words were spoken:
- Jesus asked if he wanted to be cured. 38 years – maybe his hope died and left him passive and despairing. When healed he had to take up living. Some people are so comfortable in their affliction that they do not want to live normally with all the responsibility of caring for oneself. He responds with a big YES.
- Jesus told him to get up. The power of God never overrules the power of men. Miracles happen when we cooperate with God.
- He had to attempt the impossible. Getting up was probably not the words he was waiting to hear. He lived in defeat for 38 years – for some people a lifetime. What would you like to hear?
- On the word of Christ our own effort becomes the miracle.
- Superstitions are agreements with evil. It is words of defeat spoken over yourself by yourself in words or thoughts.
Let us note very carefully what takes place. This man of defeat and disease agrees with the words Jesus speaks to him and walks away in victory. A moment before he was still in the grip of wrong thinking and negative dependence on evil agreements in false promises of outcome. His meeting with Jesus changes everything. He agrees in thought and responds to the question of Jesus as an expression of his desire for a miracle. In raw faith he attempts the impossible.
Do you believe Jesus when He says He will do something new this year?
Will you attempt the impossible?
“Do not remember the former things,
Nor consider the things of old.
Behold, I will do a new thing,
Now it shall spring forth;
Shall you not know it?
I will even make a road in the wilderness
And rivers in the desert. (Isaiah 43:18-19)
[This story could also be interpreted as an allegory:
The man = people of Israel, the five porches = the law. People are sick under the law. They find shelter but no healing. For 38 years they were wandering in the desert, waiting for the promised land, waiting for the Messiah. The stirring of waters = baptism – rising up healed and redeemed.]
John writes it as the truth of actual events. Every story has so much more…