Just a Cute Story

Recently, my oldest daughter and I were sitting at the kitchen table waiting for her food to miraculously disappear.  This is a pretty common routine in our home.  She will sit at the table, humming and singing, asking, “Daddy will you feed me?”, pouting when I don’t, and so on.  All in all, the meal time process can take anywhere from 20 minutes to 6 hours…  Or at least that is how it feels.  Durring these moments I will attempt to usurp her games and distract from her distractedness enough for her to inadvertently eat.  Often I interrupt her nursery rhymes.  For example:

Julia- Hickory dickory dock

Daddy- Pop goes the weasel!

Julia- No daaaady!  That’s not how it goes.

Daddy- Oh really?  How does it go?

Julia- Hickory dickory dock, the mouse!  The mouse daddy!

Daddy- Ok…  take a bite and let’s try again.

Julia eats a bite of food and we repeat the process.

Well, about a week ago we began our fun process of eating lunch and she started in:

Julia- I see the moon and the moon sees me

Daddy- God made the moon and God made French fries!

Now normally this would invoke a response of “No Daddy! That’s not how it goes!”  But today was different.  I interrupted with the wrong lyrics and my 3 year old daughter responded.

Julia- Yes Daddy, that is right, God made all the food for us to eat!

Daddy, still trying to maintain our odd ritual- God made the moon and God made meat!

Julia- Yes Daddy, God made meat and hamburgers, and French fries, and everything for His glory and so that we would have some food to eat!  God makes everything for His glory, and it is good.

At this point my beloved bride chimes in from the other room, laughing hysterically, “She got you there daddy.”

Sometimes my children are better theologians than I am.

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John 5 Part 2

John 5:9-13

I remember a fictional story I once heard about a young man who was sitting in the hospital with his ailing mother.  It went something like this:  The monitor started to beep and the loving son began to panic.  He ran into the hallway of the hospital in a mild panic and frantically approached the closest person in a white coat he could find.  “Sir, I need your help in my mother’s room!”  The man in crisp white medical garb responded quickly and followed the frantic man into the room.  The man in the white lab coat closely examined the situation looked at the monitors and said, “Well, this is a beautiful room!?  How can I help?  Perhaps this room could use some new curtains and don’t you think that monitor would complement the paint better on the other side of the bed?”  The Son looked incredulously at the older man and barked, “You’re the doctor, what’s wrong with the monitor?!”  Surprised at the assumption the man responded, “I’m not a doctor, I’m an interior designer.  I’m not the right person for this job.”  Slightly confused, the young man asked, “but you are wearing a white coat.”  “Oh, yes…  do you like it?  I found it in the hallway.” The older man responded.  “Let me go find you a doctor.”  The moral of the story: just because they wear a white coat, doesn’t mean they’re a doctor.

Whenever Jesus heals someone it almost always ticks off those people who do not work in the hospital of God, but wear the lab-coats.  In this particular instance, the man Jesus healed in verses 1-9 is confronted by the lab-coat wearing fake doctors who roam the halls of the hospital and yet no nothing of medicine and treatment.  He stands up and carries his bed and the interior decorators, which have all kinds of rules for how the room should look and where people should stand in cases of a picture, see him and bark at him for breaking formula.  You see, their concern is for the appearance of the hospital itself and not the healing of the patients in the hospital.  They are upset that someone would deny the rules they have set up and that this person would dare to be healed out of order!

Now I realize I’m not given the Jewish leaders the credit they deserve.  The truth is that most of the Jewish leaders believed that God had commanded that Sabbath was a day in which you were not allowed to do ANY WORK!!!  So, in defense of God’s rule, these leaders come running to stop the law breaker.  So, I imagine the conversation going like this:

Jewish leaders in white lab coats (JLWL)- “Sir, I know you’re walking and haven’t been able to for a long time… but we have rules here.  You see, it is important that you follow our administrative vision or this hospital will start to look like it is not an effective hospital.  You’re going to have to put that bed down.”

Healed guy: “What? The doctor just told me to pick it up and walk!?”

JLWL- “What!?  You saw a doctor and he told you to do something contrary to the administration’s policies!?”

Healed guy: “Yeah, he healed me and said, ‘pick up your bed and walk.’  So I’m not putting this thing down… the doctor told me to pick it up.”  He continues to mutter angrily about flawed administrative policies and obvious oversight of the needs of patients.

JLWL- Interrupting the muttering, “Which doctor was it?”

Healed guy- “I don’t know but when I see him, I’ll come tell you.”  Healed guy walks off vowing to write a letter to the chief operating officer about the lack of administrative effectiveness.

The Jewish leaders get upset over this guy walking because he is calling into question their system.  If he could be healed without submitting to the rules they believed were required for healing, then their hospital is useless.  More than that, if their system is not working, then they are not doctors!

The leaders had become more concerned with the appearance of the hospital over the healing of the patients.  You see, they were wearing a white coat, but they are not the doctor.  That’s why, when Jesus started to challenge the system and proclaiming that you get healed through Him, the leaders were angry.  That’s probably an over simplification, but there will be more to come….

John 5 pt.1

I wonder if Jesus was frustrated by the lack of concern for the weak. In John 5 Jesus sees a multitude of people who are dying as they lay around a pool. I imagine Jesus walking through the gate in the shadow of the colonnade. It would give Him a moment of privacy, passing through the shade. I can see His eyes welling up with tears as He sees a crowd of lame, cripple people desperate for some sort of relief. Can you picture it? He sees His children desperate for someone to help. What catches my eyes, is that this pool is by the Sheep Gate. Jesus walks in and I wonder why the shepherds are not there. I can feel the frustration, “these are my sheep, where are those worthless leaders I left in charge!” They are nowhere to be found. No ministry done to these poor lame sheep. Instead, they’ve replaced ministry to the weak with a myth about a magic pool.

Beneath the shade of the colonnades, multitudes wait for an opportunity to push their way into the pool when “the water is stirred up.” (v.7) Jesus must have been furious! He charged His priests to provide for these weak invalids, and they have created some sort of goofy myth to keep them out of the way. He walks to one of them and singles out a man who had been lame for 38 years. Think about it! 38 years of waiting for healing. I wonder if he had been able to get into the water at some point in the past and it just didn’t do any good? Perhaps the priests just kept telling him to keep trying? Maybe he had tried everything else and in exasperation just decided to wait for God to walk by. Fortunate for him. Did you see the question Jesus asked in verse 6? “Do you want to be healed?” The man’s response seems like an exasperated, “come on, seriously! Another person blaming me!?” His response is a polite way of saying, “why don’t you help me into the pool, you self-righteous snot!” Jesus had another way in mind.

​I wonder what the initial response of the man’s heart was. I think it would have been a frustrated. Incredulously, I think I would have thought, “you’re nuts!” Sometimes, when Jesus says for us to do things they seem crazy. We look at Him and think, “but this is the way that we have been taught to heal!?” “This is the way, we have always done things!” We reason that we have seen healing happen this way before. These are the methods that we have always used to heal the sheep! And yet, we are still sitting under the colonnades waiting for God to walk by. I think it’s because we know that our methods and myths don’t heal unless God walks by. God has walked by.
​All our incredulous responses to Jesus’ questions are overcome when we rise and walk.

Did you notice that Jesus didn’t heal everyone? There were a multitude of people who were under those colonnades. Yet Christ only healed the one. This is not uncommon. Jesus heals who He heals and no one can really be mad about. After all, all we did was make up some myth to keep the weak out of our hair.

Jesus Sculpture

Art has an amazing quality to transcend the limitations of human communication.  I was recently privileged to visit Dallas Baptist University’s campus and was touched by the numerous sculptures and paintings on the campus.  One in particular was Jesus holding a fishing net with a saying written behind him that said, “will you follow me?”  This struck me precisely because Jesus doesn’t ever ask in the Bible.  He states, “Follow me!”  Our Lord doesn’t ask, He simply says, “come on, let’s go!”  (c.f. Mt. 4:19,8:22, 9:9, 10:38, 19:21, and that’s just Matthew.)  A cursory reading of the Bible reveals that Jesus, in the Gospels, never asks people to follow Him.

The sculpture had Jesus holding a fishing net.  Combined with the aforementioned question it was as if Jesus was saying to those passers by, “I’m going fishing whether you come or not.”  It’s not so much a question as much as a statement.  The question simply softens the challenge.  You see, Jesus is working and we are invited to come along and join in the work!  If we don’t go, He is still going.

Jesus was also not dressed to fish.  If you look up any cultural studies of fishing in the first century you will see that men wore very little when they went fishing.  They would be in a hot boat in the middle of a rather isolated area.  So their clothing would fit for comfort.  Probably no shirt, shorts (or that time periods equivalent, and foot ware that would not easily come off.  However, the Jesus in the sculpture had on a complete robe.  You know, just like you always envision Jesus.  Two heavy looking robes and a belt around the first one to hold it closed.  Now, in all honesty, there are probably some errors in our pictures of Jesus, not the least of which is His overwhelmingly Germanic appearance.  But this is neither here nor there.  So, Jesus is fully dressed.  While He is going fishing, His work is completely contrary to what you know.  The implied invitation is that you will join Him on a journey that may not completely make since to you.  Jesus is going fishing in a way that does not fit your logic!  You probably will want to tell Jesus that He is not dressed appropriately for fishing, or He’s not fishing in the right place, or the boat is not cool enough to get fish to come to it, but good luck getting Him to listen!  Peter tried that once remember!? (Luke 5:1-11) Peter argues with Jesus, saying, “we toiled all night and took nothing!”  Remember?  Peter had a design for how fishing was to be done and Jesus contradicted that design.  What saves Peter is the phrase that follows the objection, “But at your word, I will let down the nets.”  Peter may think he knows a better way, but he still obeys.  Which is funny, because Jesus was right not Peter.  Maybe we ought to learn from Peter here?

Finally, the net in Jesus’ hand is wound up in His hands.  He is prepared to go fishing, but you will not see the net unfurled until you go with Him.  Jesus is going fishing… are you going with Him?