Saturday, January 23, 2010

What could be worse than 38 years?!

Afterward Jesus findeth him in the temple, and said unto him, Behold, thou art made whole: sin no more, lest a worse thing come unto thee. - John 5:14 (KJV)

Jesus healed a man crippled for 38 years. Later in the temple Jesus had a message for him - sin no more or something worse would happen.

What could be worse than the 38 years of malady he had already experienced, and was Jesus, in effect, telling this man his previous illness was a result of sin in his life?

The idea that when we do good God, life, karma, fate, whatever, rewards us with blessing and when we do bad we are punished, persists even today. Not long ago an actress said a typhoon hitting one country was because of the bad karma that country caused with its poor civil rights record. An evangelist, more recently, said a particular country suffered tragedy because they had previously made a pact with the devil. Even our favorite musical, The Sound of Music, sings “I must have done something good in my youth or childhood” when the two main characters fall in love.

This is ingrained in humanity, but it is NOT what Jesus is saying; in just a few more chapters when asked by his disciples about whose sin caused a man to be born blind, Jesus will tell them sin had nothing to do with it (John 9:2).

So what, then did Jesus mean, what could be worse than being crippled for 38 years?

Hell would be much worse!
… it is better for thee to enter into life halt or maimed, rather than having two hands or two feet to be cast into everlasting fire. - Matthew 18:8b (KJV)

This world is not all there is, and there is a coming judgment for the things done in this life; justice demands it and God promises it. It really does matter what we do in this life. Even the apostle Paul, a strong proponent of God's grace and the gift of salvation, as am I, said in Romans 2:6 that God shall "render to every man according to his deeds."

Question to ponder next: Is is possible to "Go and sin no more?"

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