Complainers or Conquerors?

John 5:1 Some time later, Jesus went up to Jerusalem for one of the Jewish festivals. 2 Now there is in Jerusalem near the Sheep Gate a pool, which in Aramaic is called Bethesda and which is surrounded by five covered colonnades. 3 Here a great number of disabled people used to lie—the blind, the lame, the paralyzed.  5 One who was there had been an invalid for thirty-eight years.

6 When Jesus saw him lying there and learned that he had been in this condition for a long time, he asked him, “Do you want to get well?” 7 “Sir,” the invalid replied, “I have no one to help me into the pool when the water is stirred. While I am trying to get in, someone else goes down ahead of me.” 8 Then Jesus said to him, “Get up! Pick up your mat and walk.” 9 At once the man was cured; he picked up his mat and walked.

Mark 10:46 Then they came to Jericho. As Jesus and His disciples, together with a large crowd, were leaving the city, a blind man, Bartimaeus (which means “son of Timaeus”), was sitting by the roadside begging. 47 When he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to shout, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!”

48 Many rebuked him and told him to be quiet, but he shouted all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” 49 Jesus stopped and said, “Call him.” So they called to the blind man, “Cheer up! On your feet! He’s calling you.” 50 Throwing his cloak aside, he jumped to his feet and came to Jesus.

51 “What do you want Me to do for you?” Jesus asked him. The blind man said, “Rabbi, I want to see.” 52 “Go,” said Jesus, “your faith has healed you.” Immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus along the road.

Problems—we all have them, and after we pass 50 or so we have a lot more. Health wise, that is. After I had my first surgery back in 1990, I simply was not the man I used to be. I went from taking my day off to work on my property from sunup to a little past sundown till where my wife would ask me to come in because I couldn’t see what I was doing. Those days were over after that surgery.

Right now I am suffering because of an accident. You see I took a short cut with a power saw, and it jerked the board and slammed it on my hand, breaking some bones and busting open two fingers. Now that wasn’t my saw and I could blame that because I don’t think I would have made that same mistake with mine—but that will not make my fingers feel better—they will still blame me. So just admit it and wait for the healing to take place.

And that brings us to our two texts. Do you see the significant difference between the two? Not in the miracle—because both men were healed. Not in the way which Jesus received them, for He had compassion on both. The difference is how they responded to Jesus’ question.

#1. “Do you want to get well?” “Sir,” the invalid replied, “I have no one to help me into the pool when the water is stirred. While I am trying to get in, someone else goes down ahead of me.”

#2. “What do you want Me to do for you?” Jesus asked him. The blind man said, “Rabbi, I want to see.” The one wanted to be healed the other wanted to complain!

Life is like that. Some people want to get on with it, and some don’t. Some want to make excuses, and some don’t. Some want to have people feel sorry for them, and some just want to get better.

Years ago I knew a couple where the husband was an alcoholic, and they pretty much lived with it. But then one day the man decided to stop drinking, and a short time later she left him—and not for another man! Now it could have been that he was changed in a bad way. But rather—she needed to be the suffering wife, and when she wasn’t—she left.

In that same congregation a man was missing one hand and had a hook. He let me know right away that he was “handicapped,” but not a “cripple.” He did a good job making do with what he had. Life is like that. Some people see somethings as problems; some see them as opportunities to make changes for the better.

Then there are those who always see the good, and there are those who always see the bad—and with some of them, it is they which cause the bad.

When I first arrived in California a man pulled me aside and said that they had experienced three bad pastors in a row. Not that they were drunks, or taught false doctrine, or were lazy, but#$8212;well, can’t really explain it, but they were not good pastors. About a year later he determined I was the 4th bad pastor!

I asked him if he thought God hated that congregation so much that He kept sending bad pastors, or was it possibly he was the problem? Likewise, in my last congregation a couple came, complaining that there last two pastors were bad, and within weeks I was bad.

Enough illustrations, and I am sure everyone here can give some examples—and maybe honestly you might be someone’s example, as I am sure I am too.

But recall a verse we all know—“for God so loved the world⃨” Jesus didn’t mean God loved planet earth—the oceans, hills and valleys—but what? The people. The good and the bad, the rich and the poor, the Jews and the Gentiles.

God loves the ones who live by excuses, and He also loves the ones who prefer to solve problems. He loves the ones who see the glass as half full, and also the ones who see the glass as half empty. You see, it is not about us, but about Him!

St. John put it this way: “This is love: not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.”  And if we are les than perfect⃨ well, Jesus said, “I have not come into the world for the righteous, but to call sinners to repentance.”

So, if you are someone who seems more apt to complain than to try to solve your problems—then why not try harder to imitate blind Bartimaeus?  It will be better for you and your friends and relatives. They will like you so much more!  And if not so much like the man at the pool, then share this message with those who need to hear it!  In Jesus’ Name! Amen!

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