Saturday, 26 May 2018

Three Men at the Pool of Bethesda

Just some simple thoughts from John 5, the man healed at the pool of Bethesda. Bethesda means 'House of Mercy, or Kindness' and so is it not fitting and entirely appropriate that into this place steps the Saviour, the perfect embodiment of all kindness and mercy! Does Psalm 117:2 not say "For his merciful kindness is great toward us..."

In this scene we read of three men referred to:

  • "A certain man" - An infirmed man, impotent and helpless who had lay stricken for 38 years. It is interesting that this man had been in this state for longer than the Lord Jesus had been upon the earth as a man! I think it is lovely to think therefore that even before he came into this world, his eye was upon this man, knowing one day they would meet and he would be blessed as a result. Surely we think of ourselves in this regard; "According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world..." Eph 1:4
  • "I have no man..." - This man had no man to help him in his despair, his situation was hopeless! His plight is touching; "While I am coming into it myself, somebody else steps down ahead of me..." How typical of men and of this world! This 'me first' attitude, the survival of the fittest, illustrating the selfish cruelty of men. How unfair, how this poor man was disadvantaged! Thank God that the Saviour steps in to redress the balance, here is mercy and compassion, here is one who will help! We thank God that our God is not the God who only blesses those who get there first, those who step ahead of others and cut in! Praise God that he looked on us in our helpless state - "For by grace are ye saved, through faith and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not of works lest any man should boast." Eph 2:8-9
  • "...what man is that..." - The outraged Jews enquired of the healed man. Of course they discovered it was the blessed man of Galilee! Son of Man, yet Son of God, here we see the two met together beautifully, just as they did at the tomb of Lazarus, his compassion and care for his fellow man, and yet his omnipotence to heal and bless. Empowered after 38 years of weakness and wretchedness... "He healed me and gave me back my strength..." Christ put others first, despite the Sabbath, this was far from the Jewish way, they were outraged! He would later go to the cross of Calvary to die for others, and there they would mock him again - "He saved others, himself he cannot save." We notice that their cold-hearted hypocrisy would surface again even at Calvary, as it is John who records; "The Jews therefore, because it was the preparation, that the bodies should not remain upon the cross on the sabbath day, (for that sabbath day was an high day,) besought Pilate that their legs might be broken, and that they might be taken away." They would not even let him alone then, as he died on the cross! Well might we sing - "Hallelujah! What a Saviour!" We thank God that Christ put others first, he thought of us and came to our aid in our deep need.
We trust these simple thoughts will be a blessing to all.


Wednesday, 16 May 2018

King Saul - A Brief Devotional

I was thinking recently about Christ as the rejected king that the Jews didn't want - "we will not have this to reign over us!" It put me in mind of the king that God rejected, the man Saul. There is a lovely comparison between the two.
  • Saul was the king who was very much the people's choice, although God put him there. Our Lord Jesus Christ was ever God's choice - ('behold my Servant'... 'this is my beloved Son')
  • Saul was a man physically that the people desired, and would look up to (literally for he was head and shoulders above them). Think of the Lord; "There is no beauty that we should desire him" "He hath no form nor comeliness..." Although the Lord Jesus was head and shoulders above them all morally! Perfect and sinless He was.
  • Saul was marked by disobedience to the word of the LORD, his disobedience in 1 Sam 13 in acting as a priest and offering burnt offerings instead of waiting for Samuel to come, and his disobedience in ch 15 in not annihilating the Amalekites left God no option but to reject Saul from continuing and prospering as king of Israel. None of this could be said of our blessed Lord as his 'meat was to do the will of him that sent him'... ('I delight to do thy will'... 'I do always those things that please the Father')
  • Remember that there was a time when Saul showed an astonishing lack of compassion for his people, when he enforced a fast upon them. I can't help but think of the time our Saviour looked out upon the people and saw them as sheep not having a shepherd, and moved with compassion he fed them miraculously in the wilderness! He would not send them away faint and hungry.
  • Saul was also marked by a lack of self-control and often lost his temper. The Lord Jesus was always in control, and was marked by meekness and was gracious even in the face of extreme provocation - ('I am meek and lowly'... 'when he was reviled he reviled not again, and when he suffered he threatened not.')
  • Saul was an extremely jealous man, wanting something that was not his, and driven by bitter envy. Of our Lord Jesus it is said that the earth is His and the fullness thereof, there was nothing he desired that was not his already by right. Though he was rich, yet for our sakes he became poor - what a contrast! Our blessed Lord humbled himself, and made himself of no reputation, while Saul raged and clung onto power with everything he had.
  • We read that an evil spirit came upon Saul and tormented him, sent from God. I can't help but think of the Lord Jesus, who was full of the Holy Spirit, led by the Spirit, and driven by the Spirit.
  • Saul was the man who wouldn't go down into the valley to face the giant. Driven by self-preservation he would let a teenage David go down instead to claim the victory for God. Think of our Saviour who would say "Here am I, send me", who willingly went down into the depths, and of whom it could be said "I am come into deep waters, where the floods overflow me... all thy waves and billows have passed over me..."
  • Think of Saul's end - his death was one of shame, failure and defeat on Mt Gilboa. Now think of our blessed Saviour, who died on Mt Calvary. Yes it was a death of shame ('cursed is every man who hangeth upon a tree') but his death was one of victory, not defeat! He triumphed over death, hell and the grave, a death which brought many sons to glory!
  • Saul had his kingdom taken away from him, it would not endure forever. I am reminded of our Lord Jesus - "he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end." 
"Jesus shall reign where'er the sun doth his successive journey's run, his kingdom spread from shore to shore, till moons shall wax and wane no more." 

Praise be to his name! Blessing, and honour, and glory, and power, be unto him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb for ever and ever.
We trust that these simple thoughts and meditations will be a blessing to us.


1 Kings 19: Elijah and God

I was listening to a podcast the other day which was speaking about 1 Kings 19 and it reminded me of how very relevant this passage is to ou...