Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Tuesday, 3 November 20:
John 5:17, 19-20, 23-24, 26 — But Jesus answered them, “My Father is working until now, and I am working…. Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of his own accord, but only what he sees the Father doing. For whatever the Father does, that the Son does likewise. For the Father loves the Son and shows him all that he himself is doing…. Whoever does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent him. Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life…. For as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son also to have life in himself.”
On the Sabbath, Jesus noticed an invalid among a multitude of blind, lame, and paralyzed. This man in the multitude had been stricken for 38 years and long forgotten by everyone else, but Jesus “saw him,” entered into his life, and healed him. The healed man went straight to the temple, where Jesus revealed Himself to the man and encouraged him to “sin no more.” (v. 14) Subsequently the healed man began telling everyone how he had been healed by Jesus, drawing everyone’s attention away from the miracle of his healing to the power and authority of the Healer.
Why this man among the multitude? Jesus explains His Father was already working in the man’s life and revealed it to Jesus so He could join the Father in His work. Unlike everyone around Him, Jesus wasn’t led by sight or the flesh; He was led by the Spirit and was wholly obedient to the Father, following the Father’s lead. Only through spiritual discernment could Jesus know where the Father was working, and in perfect obedience to the Father, Jesus stopped everything else He was doing and healed on the Sabbath which led to Jesus’ further persecution, but also to His glory.
Jesus modelled for us the Christian life – being led by the Spirit, hearing God, obeying God, proclaiming Jesus, and glorifying God. Rather than attempting to take life, ministry, and evangelism into our own hands, we need to pray for the spiritual discernment to see where the Lord is already working and then join Him in His activity. We need to be responsive to the Holy Spirit and step out in faith when the Spirit leads us off our plan to do what doesn’t seem to make sense practically. The Bible is clear that God expects us to plan to do good things, but God’s plan for your day will ultimately be revealed to you not planned by you, and to be a part of what He is doing will most assuredly mean you will not do what you thought you were going to do. It will take faith for you to step away from your plans for His perfect plan. Jesus says, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” Don’t step out on your plan and ask God to follow you.
- John 6:44 — No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him.
- John 3:5-8 — Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.”
- Proverbs 16:1 — The plans of the heart belong to man, but the answer of the tongue is from the LORD.
- Proverbs 16:9 — The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.
- Romans 8:14 — For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.
- 2 Peter 1:21 — For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.
- Acts 8:29 — And the Spirit said to Philip, “Go over and join this chariot.”
- 2 Corinthians 5:7 — For we walk by faith, not by sight.
- Acts 16:6 — And they went through the region of Phrygia and Galatia, having been forbidden by the Holy Spirit to speak the word in Asia.
- 1 Corinthians 2:11 — For who knows a person’s thoughts except the spirit of that person, which is in him? So also no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God.
On a final note, it is worth observing a few things about the healed man: First, the man wasn’t looking for Jesus when Jesus took the initiative and healed him. We are all saved by grace – “We love because he first loved us.” (1 John 4:19) Second, the healed man’s immediate response to an encounter with Jesus was to go to the temple and worship. The natural response to salvation is heartfelt worship. Third, the man was encouraged by Jesus to sin no more – love and obedience go together as modelled by Jesus. Finally, the healed man immediately told everyone about Jesus without difficulty. If evangelism is hard for you, perhaps you don’t fully appreciate what you have received in Christ. Its usually not hard to get people to talk about what they are passionate about.
“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 3 November 20: Today, pray that God will give you the spiritual discernment to see where He is already at work, and then join Him in His activity. Pray for the heart and the courage to step off your plan for the day to join Him in His plan.