John 5:3-4… “In these lay a great multitude of impotent folk, of blind, halt, withered, waiting for the moving of the water. For an angel went down at a certain season into the pool, and troubled the water: whosoever then first after the troubling of the water stepped in was made whole of whatsoever disease he had” (KJV); or “Bethesda, where a crowd of invalids used to lie . . . waiting for the water to bubble” (Moffatt).
The healing of the man at the pool of Bethesda was a great miracle, and I don‘t want to belittle it. But let’s pick up other thoughts about this. Beside the pool were a group of people who depended on an external commotion for a cure for their ills. They put their trust in “bubbles” (as Moffatt puts it). They would sit waiting for a periodic disturbance in the pool caused by an angel and then plunge in to be healed. I’m sure these folks eagerly scanned the surface of the water daily for bubbles. What a picture of many today hoping to find some “bubbles” in a new fad, a new craze, a new stirring of the waters. People are going from church to church, from one religious website to another, from books to more books, seeking for bubbles. People are putting their faith in bubbles. Often bubbles are new catchphrases, a new word that gains in popularity and in prominence. Note the following true example… and I don’t want to appear sarcastic when I use this example.
Some years ago a man named Thomas Kuhn used the word “paradigm shift” in his book, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions. Now preachers (and everyone else) are using the word. I see it everywhere, in religious literature, in prophetic utterances, on websites… yet hardly anyone knows what the word means. Why would the Holy Spirit use words that are hard for the ordinary person to understand? Why use words that mean nothing to almost all of the people? Why use words that say nothing to most folk? Out of three popular dictionaries that I have, one doesn’t even list the word paradigm. The word “paradigm” means “one that serves as pattern or model; a set of assumptions, concepts, values, and practices that constitutes a way of viewing reality for the community that shares them, especially in an intellectual discipline” (from the American Heritage Dictionary). Basically, the word means “an example that serves as a pattern.” Today’s religious pool has produced another “bubble.” The people shout, “What‘s up brother?” “We’ve got the next move of God! The Spirit is lifting up the paradigm shift!” “Yeah! The paradigm shift! This is it–jump in and your troubles will be over!” It’s another bubble. The religious paradigm shift is simply moving folk from a lower level of confusion to a higher level of confusion.
2 Corinthians 3:18 reads, “But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord” (KJV). It’s as we behold the glory of the Lord that we are changed and move from one level to a higher level. The man at the pool of Bethesda (“house of mercy”) was not saved and healed by bubbles, but by a person, the Lord Jesus Christ. It’s Jesus in the midst of the church that is the hope of salvation. We are saved by putting our faith in the word that comes from Jesus, and not by putting faith in “bubbles.” Bubbles always burst and come to nothing, but Jesus abides forever, merciful, full of compassion, and always near to save. It is true that the moving of the Spirit produces new phrases and new words and fresh experiences… but if that move is not understood, it becomes another “bubble.”
Pastor George Belobaba
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