Monday, April 04, 2016

Dial Daily Bread: We Must Not Read John 3:16 Backwards

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

When Jesus healed the paralytic at the Sheep Pool in Jerusalem, who had been sick for 38 years, He asked him no questions or to make no promises. In fact, we do not read that Jesus even preached to the sufferer first. But after He had healed the man, He found him again, in the temple. Then He said something very surprising: "Now that you are well again, leave your sinful ways, or you may suffer something worse" (John 5:14, New English Bible).

Why didn't Jesus tell this man to "leave his sinful ways" before He healed him? That's what I would have done, if I had the power to heal. I would give the sufferer a good lecture and get him to sign on the dotted line that henceforth he would "leave his sinful ways" before I went to the trouble of healing him. Why waste your time on someone who doesn't make good use of the blessings you give him?

But, that was not Jesus' way of healing people. He gives the blessing first, and then asks for a response of reformation and repentance. He heals the ten lepers when only one will come back and say thanks. This is the same way He treats the entire human race; He sends His rain on the just and on the unjust, asks for no commitment first, just freely pours out His blessings. In true New Covenant manner He gives His great gift of salvation, and then asks for a response of gratitude. We mustn't read John 3:16 backwards; the truth is that He took the initiative to "so love the world that He gave" His Son and all His blessings first, then asks us to believe.

The healing at the Sheep Pool in John 5 illustrates what Jesus accomplished by His sacrifice on His cross. While we still followed our "sinful ways," He died for us, redeemed us, justified us in a legal sense, died our second death, put His arms around us, and gave us, not merely offered us, a "forever friendship." Nothing short of a total response of eternal gratitude can rightfully be labeled as "faith."

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: September 19, 1999.
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