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Bethesda

Posted by adventbiblestudy on February 4, 2011


Alalos, Apollumi and Krupto walked through the streets of Jerusalem on a pleasant Sabbath day. This was a perfect day to exercise

bethesda

Bethesda

their legs and what they considered, their God given authority to ensure the Sabbath was observed according to the fullest of God’s written law, and the endless stream of interpretations recorded throughout the years by the rabbis. Apollumi was a master on the subject of the Sabbath and the laws surrounding the holy day. There was not a word written within the past 200 years that was not taken in by the eyes of Apollumi. This is the subject he prided himself upon. This was the work he believed would grant him the highest status in the kingdom of God. He was convinced the after life needed people like him to keep the rest of the residents in order.

As they walked past the pool Bethesda, they spotted a man skipping out into the street with a smile on his face, making him look like he just received the surprise of his life. Apollumi thought to himself, could this stranger’s thoughts be more important than showing proper reverence for the Sabbath? The look on the man’s face distracted Apollumi for only a moment. In an instant he noticed the man was carrying a bed. At the sight of such a blasphemy, Apollumi’s emotion instantly changed from surprise to deep seeded anger. His face turned red as he cleared his throat to use his most authoritative voice. “What do you think you are doing, carrying a bed on the Sabbath?” The man answered, “forgive me lord, a man just healed me, you see I have been crippled for thirty eight years. I’ve been here for many of those years, hoping and praying for a miracle. Because of my condition I could never be the first to the waters once they stirred. I was about to give up all hope when today, just now, a man come up to me and said, “Rise, take up your bed, and walk.” I obeyed his command. It’s a miracle, can’t you see, I can walk. I can jump. I can skip. I’m so happy I could hug the whole world.”

The man dropped his bed and stepped towards Apollumi, whose emotion instantly changed from anger to fear. He had no intentions of touching such a vile man, who looked, dressed and smelled like he hadn’t bathed in years. Apollumi took a step backwards and shouted, “how do we know you were crippled and healed? You are lying to cover up the fact you are breaking the Sabbath.”

Usually people went out of their way to avoid contact with the Pharisees, but in this case a crowd began to gather. As the Pharisees continued questioning the man, the crowd began to shout, “he was just healed, it’s a miracle, he was lame just a few minutes ago.” Krupto suggested this was a conspiracy to protect the guilty man from the crime of carrying his bed on the Sabbath. As the Pharisees questioned the crowed they learned Jesus was responsible for this scene. Apollumi said, “I have heard of this man. It seems he is now attempting to take credit for a miracle. I can tell where this is headed. We may have to watch this fellow. If things continue, we may have to consider further actions.”

As the crowd dispersed, Jesus stood starring at the spot Apollumi stood, condemning the man just healed on the Sabbath. His mind drifted back to a meeting with another Pharisee a few nights ago. It was not often a Pharisee came seeking Jesus. Being seen with Him could mean the end of a carrier. Nicodemus came to Jesus under the cover of darkness carrying the news Jesus needed to hear at that moment. Nicodemus told Him, “we know you are a teacher from God.” These were words of encouragement sent by the Holy Spirit to the Son of God. A war was waging within the heart of Nicodemus between the position, and respect he desired, and the calling of the Spirit of truth. For a time Nicodemus preferred to live in both worlds.

Very few Pharisees were interested in what Jesus had to say. Fewer would take the risk of being seen with Him. To hear the word, “we” lifted Jesus’ spirit to a point beyond words.

Jesus tested Nicodemus by introducing a very simple spiritual concept, being born again. “Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” The Pharisees had little or no experience interpreting spiritual concepts. For centuries Satan had tempted the rabbis with study methods which putting the interpreter at the center, which over the years removed the influence of the Holy Spirit. For the most part Satan was very successful.

Understanding the concept of a spiritual birth should have been elementary for anyone with a basic understanding of the scriptures. But the Pharisees had become men with eyes that could not see, and ears that could not hear, because they had elevated the concepts of men above the word of God for generations. Their acceptance and drive to understand all scripture in a physical, and material sense had blinded them to the realization of a deeper spiritual meaning placed within the scriptures by the finger of God.

The final plague in Egypt was shared by the Egyptians, Israelites, rich and poor, king and servant, free and bond. Even the first born animals were in danger. Specific instructions were given. If these instructions were followed, the family was ensured protected. If the instructions were not followed, the first born faced death. God used this as an illustration teaching the Israelites, those following His instructions will find life. Those who refuse will perish. All those following the instructions for the Passover preserved the firstborn, who were freed from bondage and began a journey to the promised land. The firstborn leaving Egypt for the promised land represented a spiritual rebirth, being born again. Crossing through the Red Sea represented baptism.

Jesus was not surprised Nicodemus could not understand these simple concepts. As a young boy, Jesus had talked to a number of rabbis about this concept. They pretended to understand, but Jesus could tell they were being tolerant, because of his youth, but were interested because his concepts were based upon scripture. At that time it didn’t matter, Jesus was busy planting seeds. After 20 years these seeds were now awakening, reaching high for light, and sending roots deep for moisture.

Nicodemus answered Jesus in terms of his limited material understanding. “How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother’s womb, and be born?” Jesus answered with words intended to open the heart. “Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again.” Jesus immediately added a new concept. “The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit.”

Beginning with his earliest school days, Nicodemus had been directed by the Pharisees every step of the way. Every concept had been carefully instilled. Each subject carefully chosen. Each tradition had to be memorized. Every study scrutinized and compared to accepted traditions. Satan successfully introduced study methods designed to lock the portals of the heart. Satan’s success was shown in Nicodemus’ answer. “How can these things be?”

Jesus would not give up on Nicodemus so easily. He knew the answers were there, buried by years of tradition. He only needed to find the key to unlock both his imagination and his heart. Jesus asked, “Art thou a master of Israel, and knowest not these things?” Jesus did not want to embarrass Nicodemus, but wished to encourage him. Jesus went on to explain. “Verily, verily, I say unto thee, We speak that we do know, and testify that we have seen; and ye receive not our witness. If I have told you earthly things, and ye believe not, how shall ye believe, if I tell you of heavenly things? And no man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven.”

This breathed new life in the heart of Nicodemus. Jesus could see it in his eyes, in the expression on his face. Jesus went on, “And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life. For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.”

Jesus had taught two lessons in this statement. The first was to introduce a simple concept showing how to relate scripture to a spiritual symbol. The serpent lifted up by Moses in the wilderness would one day represent Christ. Jesus chose a text He knew Nicodemus would be familiar with. Jesus also showed His love for Nicodemus, by bestowing upon him the legacy of being the first man to hear what may be the most famous words in all the world. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”

Jesus continued, “And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved. But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God.” Jesus did not point these words at Nicodemus, but intended them to be a source of encouragement, and a warning. Nicodemus knew it would be difficult to trust another Pharisee and discuss the things he had learned. The lesson told Nicodemus, Jesus knew some will accept the light, while others would reject it. Nicodemus left that evening with a new seed planted within his heart. With so many words to ponder, it was only a matter of time and dedication. Nicodemus could choose to ignore the words of life, or he could meditate upon them, comparing them with other scripture, watering the seed within, and providing the light required for growth. Leaving Jesus, Nicodemus was now in the hands of the Holy Spirit.

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