Day 18: Superstitious Christianity
Read: John 5:1-17
We don’t really think about superstitions having a part in Christianity, but they are more than just throwing salt over your shoulder. Religious superstitions sneak into areas of life that we don’t often realize, like deciding that a bad day was due to missing morning quiet time. A more well-known one is the posts that read, “If you share this with ten people God will bless you” or “If you agree, type AMEN. Jesus already saw you read this!” As if Jesus would rain down fire upon us if we fail to type “amen” and ‘confess’ him before social media!
While not often recognized, these superstitious behaviors are nothing new. In fact, at the Sheep Gate in Jerusalem, there was a pool about which there was a superstitious custom. The custom went that every once in a while, an angel would come down from heaven and stir up the water. After this happened, the first person to go in the water would be healed from all their infirmities. This belief was not supported anywhere in the Jewish writings at the time, but it seemed to have been tolerated as a part of folk-religion. This superstitious belief was the reason that there were “a multitude of invalids” around the pool.
Jesus came to this pool and found the multitude, all desperately seeking healing. Jesus asked a man whom he knew had spent thirty-eight years putting his hope in superstitious chance if he wanted to be healed. The man’s response showed that he believed this was the only way. This man didn’t know who Jesus was, didn’t believe in him, and didn’t even directly ask for healing, yet Jesus healed him. In this act, Jesus was essentially saying that superstition won’t heal but that salvation only comes from God.
When Jesus sees this man again, he says, “See you are well! Sin no more, that nothing worse may happen to you” (v.14). Jesus was trying to teach him an eternal lesson through temporal issues, saying that something far worse than his disability lay ahead unless he was healed spiritually.
The man never actually thanks Jesus in the text. Once he figured out who Jesus was, he informed the Jews that it was Jesus who healed him on the Sabbath (a law that the Jews in this text cared more about than a man being healed). This man never saw beyond what he needed at that moment to what Jesus was trying to give him. He was physically healed, but he completely missed the point.
Consider any superstitions that have entered your beliefs in God. Do you believe that if you don’t have your quiet time in the morning your whole day will be ruined? Do you believe that if you are a good person that God will bless you? Pray and ask the Holy Spirit to reveal any of these superstitions you are clinging to. Write them down as they come up with a statement of truth next to them.
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