Love Like Jesus — Love the Lost Cause: John 5:2-9

Jesus Loves Lost Cause

Temple Grandin Presenting at TED Conference

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. Here a great number of disabled people used to lie—the blind, the lame, the paralyzed. One who was there had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. 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?”

“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.”

Then Jesus said to him, “Get up! Pick up your mat and walk.” At once the man was cured; he picked up his mat and walked.

John 5:2-9

How Jesus Loved People

Jesus loved this man, even though anyone else would consider him a lost cause.

How to Love Like Jesus

I spoke with someone today who told me about a disabled man he once cared for in an adult foster home. The disabled man’s name is Daniel. Daniel is angry all the time, he can’t speak, or do much of anything to take care of himself. After working there for awhile my friend was surprised to learn, that up until five years previous, Daniel was happy, and could speak and communicate very well. But over time, due to the rate of turnover for caregivers, the level of engagement with Daniel gradually declined, and so his communication skills and function declined also, until he became the sad figure he is today.

In some ancient manuscripts an explanation of the system in place here at the pool of Bethesda is given. The way the system worked, the disabled people would get up and enter the pool whenever they saw the water move, or swirl, or bubble. Tradition said, the first one in the pool after the waters moved would be healed.

In our culture, we also have a system. Like the system at the pool of Bethesda, our system is also a system of competition. Just as it was at the pool of Bethesda, in our system the rewards go to the person who is first. My own tendency, probably because of my own competitive nature, is to help those who help themselves. My tendency is to help those who, in my estimation, have a shot at making it into the pool first, so to speak.

But that’s not Christ’s way.

There’s a great movie that illustrates the way Jesus loved people others would call a lost cause. It’s called Temple Grandin — it’s the true story of an autistic girl of the same name. Temple didn’t speak until she was almost four years old. She was diagnosed with autism and the specialists who examined her wrote her off. They recommended her mother place Temple in an institution. But her mother didn’t listen to the doctors. She kept her at home and taught Temple with amazing perseverance and tenacity.

Incredibly, Temple eventually earned her Ph.D., and today she’s a professor of Animal Science at Colorado State University.

Temple Grandin’s mother had no education, no training, no anything to help her with her daughter. The only thing she had was her love for Temple. And that love was so strong, she single handedly revolutionized the approach to treating children with autism and aspergers. (see, and imdb)

Jesus chose to help a man who had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. Jesus chose to help a man who had no one else to help him. Jesus chose to help a man who was at the back of the pack, who was helpless to win the competition to be the first into the water to be healed.

Jesus loved a lost cause.

Oh how I’ve blown it with the lost causes in my life! When I see someone who, in my estimation, is a lost cause, I can only think of one word to describe my attitude toward that person, and the word is not love.

The word is dismissive!

I dismiss those who I determine to be beyond help. I dismiss the man in my neighborhood traveling the streets in his motorized wheelchair. I dismiss the disabled woman who collects bottles and cans around town for the deposit money. God have mercy on me,

I dismiss them.

But Christ does not!

The man in our story had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. Thirty-eight years! Yet he was the one chosen by Jesus.

You and I may not have the power to command an invalid of thirty-eight years to pick up his mat and walk. But there’s nothing stopping us from loving that person. Just taking the time to engage a disabled person with an accepting and loving attitude can make a big difference in his life. Just offering a ride to church to anyone in the lost cause category could be a big deal.

Jesus loved lost causes.

You and I should too.

[Image via University of Denver, Creative Commons]

[HT: Jon Courson’s Application Commentary NT]


2 Comments on “Love Like Jesus — Love the Lost Cause: John 5:2-9

  1. I’ve seen the Temple Grandin movie and it is wonderful! Having a child with a handicap may certainly help one have more compassion for others. One of my twins has cerebral palsy and he is a blessing to not only our family, but an example to the world that handicapped people can make a profound difference in this world. But you are right, Kurt, in that most times we “shun” others because we judge their appearance and we fall headlong into assumption falling prey to dismissal. May God forgive us when we’ve done that.

    We must never forget that our compassionate Savior looks at the heart of the individual because He is the only one that can size up an individual:

    The heart is deceitful above all things, and it is exceedingly corrupt: who can know it? I, Yahweh, search the mind, I try the heart, even to give every man according to his ways, according to the fruit of his doings. (Jer 17:9-10)

    We tend to look at the “lovely” and dismiss the “lowly”.

    But Yahweh said to Samuel, “Don’t look on his face, or on the height of his stature; because I have rejected him: for Yahweh sees not as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but Yahweh looks at the heart.” (1 Samuel 16:7)

    Wow, you brought back to my memory a much earlier time in my new faith in Jesus. I felt like I could accomplish anything by prayer for others, most especially strangers, and there was nothing that was impossible because I just knew God would answer my prayers.

    At work one day during my break I was sitting on a bench outdoors and along came a pan-handler looking for money. Out of my mouth came, “I do not have silver and gold, but such as I have, I give unto thee…” Then I proceeded to share the Good News with this man. He had tears in his eyes and said that his sister would have liked me because she would have said much the same. Sometimes we don’t have what the person needs physically or financially, but we always have the WORD which will do wonders to lift someone from the depths of despair to which they may have plunged. I too have slacked off in this habit in regard to strangers and have forgotten that sometimes we entertain angels unawares.

    Another example occurred when our neighbor across the street said that their water heater was not working. I offered a prayer to the Father regarding the problem. I lifted my head up to the sky and prayed something like this: Father, your Son said “Whatever you will ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you will ask anything in my name, I will do it”. (John 14:13) Father, I ask in the name of your Son, Jesus, be glorified and fix my neighbor’s water heater problem. Well, some time went by and I asked the neighbor if her water heater got fixed, and my neighbor said, “No, we didn’t have to get it fixed because you prayed; it is working”.

    Yes, Kurt, we certainly can’t help everyone…but we can always offer a prayer because we know who can! Thank you for that loving admonition.

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