Subject: Redeemer Downtown Devotional: Fourth Sunday after the Epiphany - January 29, 2012


Fourth Sunday after the Epiphany - January 29, 2012

After this there was a feast of the Jews, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. 

Now there is in Jerusalem by the Sheep Gate a pool, in Aramaic called Bethesda, which has five roofed colonnades. In these lay a multitude of invalids—blind, lame, and paralyzed. One man was there who had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him lying there and knew that he had already been there a long time, he said to him, “Do you want to be healed?” 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 going another  
steps down before me.” Jesus said to him, “Get up, take up your bed, and walk.” And at once the man was healed, and he took up his bed and walked.

Now that day was the Sabbath. So the Jews said to the man who had been healed, “It is the Sabbath, and it is not lawful for you to take up your bed.” But he answered them, “The man who healed me, that man said to me, ‘Take up your bed, and walk.’” They asked him, “Who is the man who said to you, ‘Take up your bed and walk’?” Now the man who had been healed did not know who it was, for Jesus had withdrawn, as there was a crowd in the place. Afterward Jesus found him in the temple and said to him, “See, you are well! Sin no more, that nothing worse may happen to you.” The man went away and told the Jews that it was Jesus who had healed him.
John 5:1-15 (ESV)

        The pool of Bethesda in Jerusalem was known throughout the ancient world as a place of healing. At any given time there would be many (“blind, lame, and paralyzed”) who would position themselves beside the pool, in order to access its healing waters. One person, an invalid, had been trying to access the pool for thirty-eight years. Rendered powerless by an incurable disease, he had spent most, if not all, of his life vainly seeking a miracle to overcome it, with no one to help him with his predicament. In this light, Jesus’ query “Do you want to be healed?” does not merely ask the obvious, but instead reveals itself to be a searching question about whether after such a long time the man still had hope of healing -- or had he become utterly resigned to his seemingly hopeless condition.

        There were likely many invalids by the pool that day, and yet Jesus chooses to speak specifically and individually to the condition and depth of misery of this man (“when Jesus saw him lying there and knew that he had already been there a long time...”). Imagine seeking healing from an incurable and debilitating disease for your entire life and then hearing Jesus speak straight to you. Listen to what Jesus says to him. “Get up, take up your bed, and walk.” Throughout the gospels, “get up” is used to describe resurrection. In other words, this is a reminder that God brings new creation into an old and broken one and that He breathes new life into dead and limp bodies. No longer is the man carried around in his bed, but now he stands and victoriously carries the bed himself. The man, who had spent his life in vain trying to be healed, hears the voice of Jesus and is brought to new life. He hears Jesus and experiences God’s glorious power to heal. Have you heard his voice? Do you want to be healed?

                                                                                                                    John C. Lin, Downtown Lead Pastor

Almighty and everlasting God, you govern all things both in heaven and on earth: Mercifully hear the supplications of your people, and in our time grant us your peace; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
                                                                                       Collect from The Book of Common Prayer

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