Jesus is back in Jerusalem and is immediately confronted by a paralysed man who has been waiting to be healed for 38 years. That’s a lot of time to develop some unbelief! When Jesus asks him if he wants to be healed, his immediate response is ‘I can’t sir’ (v6-7). But that was an answer to a different question. The man however could not even hear the invitation. He could only see the impossibilities of the situation. Jesus in his great love heals the man anyway.
How often do we respond in a similar way? We rule out what God can do because we see it through the filters of our own past experience and unbelief. God help us to hear His voice and believe His word.
When challenged about healing on the Sabbath, Jesus uses the opportunity to show that he only does what he sees the Father doing (v19). This surely is the key to Jesus’ amazing ministry. Apart from the fact that Jesus was born without sin, He had no special advantage over us. He had to rely on the same Holy Spirit that we do to do the work of God (Acts 10:38). He needed to spend time alone with God in prayer to be sure that He was on track with doing the Father’s will.
That same dependence can be ours if we will seek for it and cry out to God for it.
Through the rest of the chapter Jesus points to many witnesses to support his claims. He lists Himself (v31), the Father (v32), John the Baptist (v33), His own works (v36), and scripture (v39). Jesus brings all these witnesses to bear on His claims to the Son of God, as a man in court would invite witnesses to testify on his behalf. The hard-hearted religious people would have none of it. As the saying goes ‘don’t confuse me with the facts when I have made up my mind.’
In Chapter 6, Jesus is back in Galilee and he runs into a little logistical problem, 5,000 people with no food in the middle of nowhere, and its lunch time! The miracle is well known to us, as is the challenge; to give what we have got, and see what God will do with it.
When surrendered to Him, the miracle of multiplication and provision can take place. He truly is a most generous and abundant God, but has chosen for some strange reason to allow us to be part of the miracle.
After walking on water (v19) Jesus enters into another discussion about food with the disciples. He presents himself as ‘the bread of life’, the one who can satisfy every hunger and thirst in our lives.
Why do we ever settle for filling our lives with poor substitutes? The prophet Isaiah said something similar (Is 55:1-3).