Friday, June 03, 2005

Reflections on John 5:1-17 - "Do you want to be well?"

In preparation for this weekend's Annual Conference, our bishop met with clergy in each district in the weeks leading up to this one. At our district meeting, my DS, Rev. Carl Johnson, gave a most excellent message that I've been meaning to comment on. I emailed him to see if he had a written sermon, but unlike myself, he makes no written copy of his text. So he emailed me a little summary, and I'll try to convey his message to you!
Rev. Johnson preached on John 5:1-17. This is the story of a paralytic who has been waiting by the pool at Bethesda to be healed for 38 years. Johnson's key question was Jesus' question to the man: "Do you want to be well?"Johnson writes, "The man by the pool had 38 years of care. His response to the question [that he can't get into the healing pool fast enough] was designed to keep him at the pool. Jesus, however, cut to the heart of the matter, i.e. [the man's] taking advantage and abusing the situation. This is not primarily a miracle healing as much as it is a challenge to embrace life...not go to the temple for follow-up care. This man is a consumer not a contributor! His anger toward Jesus displays his true purpose!"
My DS looked at this text in a whole new way, I thought. Instead of seeing this as a healing miracle, he paints this as a man who is like many of us in the church, maybe like the church itself. Do we want to be well? Jesus comes to the man and takes away all of his excuses for inaction. Christ active in our lives does the same for all of us, for the church - our excuses for staying in the same place, doing the same thing, claiming inability to do what God calls us to do are removed from us. How will we respond?
Thanks to Rev. Johnson for sharing this message!
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