Daily Devotion 10 September 2020
John 5:2-9 ‘A Foolish Question?’
2 Now in Jerusalem by the Sheep Gate there is a pool, called in Hebrew Beth-zatha, which has five porticoes. 3 In these lay many invalids – blind, lame, and paralysed. 5 One man was there who had been ill for thirty-eight years. 6 When Jesus saw him lying there and knew that he had been there a long time, he said to him, ‘Do you want to be made well?’ 7 The sick man answered him, ‘Sir, I have no one to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up; and while I am making my way, someone else steps down ahead of me.’ 8 Jesus said to him, ‘Stand up, take your mat and walk.’ 9 At once the man was made well, and he took up his mat and began to walk.
Since I’ve had two short stays recently in hospital, I hope you will forgive a thought on subject of medical matters! However, when I came across this little passage from John’s Gospel, I couldn’t resist offering some thoughts on what apparently is a silly question that Jesus asks of the sick man: ‘Do you want to be made well?’ What? Of course he does!! Or is there (as is often the case with John’s Gospel), an underlying truth here?
Perhaps the man who had been ill (if he was) had become almost ‘comfortable’ with his situation. Provided one’s pain is kept under reasonable control, one almost feels, if not comfortable, then ‘safe’, lying in a sick bed, with all one’s needs provided for. Being healed and coming healthy implies activity – taking responsibility for our own futures, and being willing to embrace all the changes that these bring.
But we’re thinking more than the old chestnut of the danger of ‘glorying in our infirmities, with which we’re all, no doubt, familiar! The Church itself has taken a huge ‘beating’, as it were, during this pandemic, and the kind of processes it will need to undertake in the future will not be so very different from those that the man who was invalid, was faced with in the above story.
Every church will have to re-assess its place in its circuit, synod area, town – in God’s overall mission, indeed. And that will be as challenging and nerve-wracking as it is when you are taking your first, faltering steps out of your sick bed. But courage! Jesus’ commands are always his greatest promises, and his command to ‘get up’ and follow him is not just an injunction. It is a promise that his hand will be in ours, and will never let it go. And we need not fear.
(adapted from some words of Fred Kaan 1929-2009)
Lord, you in us are bruised and broken: hear us as we seek release from the pain of earlier living; set us free and grant us peace. Give us faith to be more faithful, give us hope to be more true; give us love to go on learning: God! Encourage and renew! Amen.
Reflection & Prayer © 2020 Barrie Tabraham.
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