“Later Jesus found [the once lame man whom he’d just healed] at the temple and said to him, ‘See, you are well again. Stop sinning or something worse may happen to you.’”
~John 5:14 (NIV modified).
Could anyone really blame the healed man for not really noting Jesus’ words? Miraculously healed—doesn’t get much better! The man, like so many in Jesus and the apostles’ time, was healed; like so many even today—healed in the Name of Jesus.
Jesus is not condemning the man for his sinful ways and attributing his former condition as blameworthy of sin. Indeed, in John 9:1-4 Jesus forbids such a connection—disease and sin as the causative effect.
A worse thing for the man in question—and for us—is to land in hell for eternity. And that is the destiny of those who would insist on living in their unreconciled sin.
We can imagine Jesus, pressed with other things, having precious few words to really say to this man and surely his intent is he’s calling the healed man to repent; to consider the miraculousness of his newfound condition as evidence of the kingdom and awe of God that he should now bow to. Surely Jesus is saying, ‘Stop sinning or you might end up in hell after death—an altogether more horrible thing than being lame.’
Jesus never condemns those he heals. When he encounters the adulterous woman in John 8—interestingly, an account missing in the most reliable of ancient gospel sources—he in his wisdom orchestrates, of all things, the humbling of the self-righteous teachers of the law and Pharisees—so that no one is seen to condemn the woman who’s obviously feeling very sorry already for her sin. Jesus simply said, “neither do I condemn you... Go now and leave your life of sin.” (John 8:11b) Direct and to the point, but grace-filled, is Jesus; with them and with us.
Having been so powerfully touched by the Presence of God who could not be intrinsically motivated to leave their life of sin—and this is the real miracle—God’s power to transform the life so that the vestiges of sin are no more; no hold, no guilt, no negative power. Gone! But only through the indwelt healing power of God.
With God the former life is gone and forgotten. It is irrelevant in his eyes even though we might still bear the scars and worldly consequences of it. God is solely focussing us on our future—that one with a bright shining hope attached to it; the wondrous light that beckons for us a path of sanctity and of grace. Set aside now, protected, anointed for good works!
“Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”
~Romans 8:1 (NIV).
This is a penetrating Word for us. It is truth-soaked and wisdom-ensconced. It is something that forces constant reflection, as to the ripples of God’s glorious grace that continue to sweep over and through us, engendering new life of the Spirit.
© 2010 S. J. Wickham.