You’re Not Listening…

(John 5:1-9)

Do you ever get told off by someone else for not listening? I know I do! So often we do not hear what is being said because we are not listening. Well it just doesn't happen with our families and friends, but too often we don't hear the Lord because we are not listening and in this section of scripture concerning the healing of a paralytic at the Pool of Bethesda (some say Bethsaida) we see a classic example of this syndrome.

The Pool of Bethesda

First let's look at the back story to this incident at the start of John chapter 5. This incident occurred at the Pool of Bethesda in the Sheep Gate in Jerusalem.

The Pool of Bethesda had an interesting occurrence as for some reason God allowed it to be used to heal the people. in the footnotes to this section verse 4 is added showing that at certain times of the year an angel of the Lord came down and stirred up the water and whoever was first to step into the troubled water was healed of whatever afflictions or illnesses they suffered.

Question and Answer

Jesus came to the pool and found a man who was an invalid and unable to walk. He had been at the pool for thirty eight years waiting to be the first to go down into the water and be healed, but was unable to walk and had no one to move him into the water when it was troubled. And each time as he attempted to enter the troubled water someone else stepped in before him.

This man must have been frustrated as each attempt to receive the healing he so desired was thwarted for one reason or another. But he was single minded in his desire to be healed for he had been at the pool for thirty eight years and had not given up hope that he would eventually make it down the steps and into the pool. If nothing else he had the faith to be healed. All he needed was the ability to take those few steps. But he had become so focussed on this one thing he ceased to listen.

Now Jesus comes along to the pool and seeing the man he asks him a question saying, “Do you want to be healed?” (verse 6) You would expect that after laying there for thirty eight years the man would immediately say yes. But instead, like so many of us, he was focussed on the problem and not the solution. All he could see was that the method for his healing was to get into the water first when the angel stirred it up, and he couldn't.

Jesus said, “Do you want to be healed?” He didn't ask if the man needed a hand to get into the water. The man wasn't listening because instead of hearing the Lord he was too focussed on his own problems. Do you ever do that? Do you ever get so bound up in your problems and issues that you miss the opportunity being presented, just as this man missed the opportunity to be released from his affliction? I'm sure there are times when we all fall victim to this problem.

Fortunately for this man the Lord ignored his answer. He didn't even say, “Well, no that's not what I asked you mate. You're not listening. I said do you want to be healed!” No. The Lord just said to him, “Get up, take up your bed, and walk.” And at once the man was healed, and he took up his bed and walked.” (verses 8-9)

The Still Small Voice

So many times when we are suffering or seeking answers we don't listen to the Lord when He gives them to us. Often, like the man in this story, we are waiting for the solution that WE want and not hearing or seeing the solution on offer from the Lord.

This man wanted to get down the steps into the pool or have someone carry him into the water. Jesus offered an alternative solution that was so much better and easier, and it was available then and there. He didn't even have to wait for the troubling of the waters to get healed. But he could have completely missed out once again because it wasn't the solution that he was looking for. Jesus could have walked away and the man might have lay there another thirty eight years and died there waiting, not realizing his healing had already been offered. He just didn't hear the solution when it was given.

Often in our lives the Lord does not work in the big and miraculous ways, as Elijah found when he was running away from those who sought his life.

9 There he came to a cave and lodged in it. And behold, the word of the LORD came to him, and he said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”
10 He said, “I have been very jealous for the LORD, the God of hosts. For the people of Israel have forsaken your covenant, thrown down your altars, and killed your prophets with the sword, and I, even I only, am left, and they seek my life, to take it away.”
11 And he said, “Go out and stand on the mount before the LORD.” And behold, the LORD passed by, and a great and strong wind tore the mountains and broke in pieces the rocks before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind. And after the wind an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake.
12 And after the earthquake a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire. And after the fire the sound of a low whisper.
13 And when Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his cloak and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave. And behold, there came a voice to him and said, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”

Here we see Elijah was running away from those who were seeking to kill him. He was afraid for his life and was escaping and hiding in a cave as it shows in verses 9-10. At this point he was not looking to the Lord for protection but seeking to protect himself, and the Lord began questioning him saying, “What are you doing here?”

Then the Lord shows Elijah the power that God could bring to bear. He showed him powerful winds able to shred rocks, mighty earthquakes and fierce fires. But in all these outpourings of power and destruction we see that the Lord was not in any of them.

Then we see this power followed by a still small voice, a low whisper. And that is where Elijah found the Lord. It was in the whispers of the Lord that answers were revealed and Elijah found the direction he was to follow. Not in the power of might but in listening to the whisper of the voice of the Lord.

So too we often are seeking answers and miss them when the Lord provides them because, like Elijah and the man at the Bethesda Pool, we are not listening. We are looking for the miracles and the outpouring of power rather than the still small voice that prompts us in the right direction. And like the man at the pool of Bethesda, when we are asked, “Do you want to be healed,” instead of just saying yes, we give all kinds of reasons why we can't be healed or the problem can't be solved because we are too focussed on the problem or we have an expected solution that WE want rather than listening to the Lord's solution.

So I urge you to listen to the still small voice. If you seek an answer diligently from the Lord, be assured that he will give it to you. This was his promise, that those who seek will find. All we need to do is to be prepared to listen to His solution and recognize it when we hear it.

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Ask and it will be given to you
Seek and you will find
Martha and Mary


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