Without a Wound? [True Ministry]

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The subject of “the pool at Bethesda” alludes to the following excerpt from the Thorton Wilder play, “The Angel that Troubled the Waters.” The play is based on the biblical verses of John 5:1-4, but it changes the end of the parable. I first encountered this excerpt within the book “Abba’s Child: The Cry of the Heart for Intimate Belonging,” by Brennan Manning.

The play tells of a physician who comes periodically to the pool of Bethesda, hoping to to see the stir and then be the first in the water and healed of his melancholy. The angel appears and troubles the water. Everybody at the pool hopes to be the first in the pool and thereby be healed of his disability.

An angel appears and blocks the physician at the very moment he is ready to step into the pool and be healed.

Angel: “Draw back, physician, this moment is not for you.”angel1

Physician: “Angelic visitor, I pray thee, listen to my prayer.

Angel: “This healing is not for you.”

Physician: “Surely, surely, the angels are wise. Surely, O Prince, you are not deceived by my apparent wholeness. Your eyes can see the nets in which my wings are caught; the sin into which all my endeavors sink half-performed cannot be concealed from you.”

Angel: “I know.”

……………Interlude………………

Physician: “Oh, in such an hour was I born, and doubly fearful to me is the flaw in my heart. Must I drag my shame, Prince and Singer, all my days more bowed than my neighbor?”

Angel: Without your wound where would your power be? It is your very sadness that makes your low voice tremble into the hearts of men. The very angels themselves cannot persuade the wretched and blundering children on earth as can one human being broken on the wheels of living. In Love’s service only the wounded soldiers can serve. Draw back.”

Later, the person who enters the pool first and was healed rejoices in his good fortune then turns to the physician before leaving and said:

“But come with me first, an hour only, to my home. My son is lost in dark thoughts. I — I do not understand him, and only you have ever lifted his mood.”

“Only an hour… my daughter, since her child has died, sits in the shadow. She will not listen to us but she will listen to you.”

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For me, the play pierces with the ‘bullet-message’ of this wonderful line— “Without your wound where would your power be?“ This is like a slow percolating of Paul’s teaching, mainly that it’s through my weaknesses that I can truly minister to others like Jesus. It’s the Apostle Paul declaring it’s the weak things that work to create something solid and true in us. And I hope in the many lives that this ministry, brokenbelievers.com reaches.

I hope so anyway. Pray for me.

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Help! I Need a Doctor

“And when Jesus heard it, he said to them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.” 

Mark 2:17, ESV

We get ‘schooled’ when we try to figure out Jesus.  It is a radical adjustment to process His thoughts and motives.  We watch and try to understand.  Jesus dictates a certain level, and we as His disciples will need to adjust.  Jesus declares that a select group will not need a doctors ministrations.  But the doctor does have a role.  There will be the ‘sick’, who need his attention.

The reality is that many are diseased and ill.  It is something that links and connects us to each  other.  We are desperately sick, and we have no medicine.  Jesus steps forward and intervenes.  He takes us and ministers to us in our desperate condition.  The diseased will be made healthy.

Jesus reaches ‘the sick’.  That is who He wants.  He makes the choice and that choice is us, full of infection and pain.  His Kingdom consists of those who understand their illness.  He bypasses the strong and the healthy.  He spends little time with them.  His heart is set on us who are broken and twisted.  Our cancerous bodies have absolutely nothing to give Him.

His Kingdom is full of sick people.  It, in a sense, is full with the ‘terminally ill’.  It is we who have ‘attracted’ Him.  Yet He has intensely sought us out.  We gather like little chicks to his protective wings.  We honestly do not have the ability even to protect ourselves.

Jesus declares that He has come for us.  Sin is very near to us.  We have the infection and we are completely vulnerable.  We are not strong spiritually.  There are many who excel before us.  We can make no claim to anything of significance.  But He has chosen us.  Sovereignly and specifically.  Strongly and decisively.  He has collected us and brought us to His heart.

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ybic, Bryan