John 5:1-15 “Jesus went…to a pool (in Jerusalem) where a great number of disabled people used to lie-the blind, the lame, the paralyzed. One who was there had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him lying there and learned that he had been in this condition for a long time, he asked him, ‘Do you want to get well?’…..at once the man was cured; he picked up his mat and walked.”
Grace and peace to you this fourth day of Advent.
Following Jesus is extremely personal.
One of the things that we have been taught about Advent is that it is a time of waiting. Unfortunately, our modern day waiting has been connected to all that goes in to Christmas Day celebrations…so our waiting is for presents, we wait for our son’s family (or uncle or some relative) to arrive from Connecticut, we wait for chocolate pecan pie. The original intention of Advent was a time of waiting not for Christmas, really, but as a reminder that we are waiting for Jesus’ return. We are waiting for the full inauguration of His Kingdom (as we pray) “on earth as it is in heaven.”
Jesus brought the Kingdom initially and showed his disciples and us how it is breaking out in the world. Jesus’ cousin John was in prison and wondering if Jesus really was the One who the whole nation of Israel had been waiting for. He sent some disciples to Jesus to ask. Jesus replied: “Tell him the blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised and the good news is proclaimed to the poor.”
An example of that is found in the passage above from John 5. Of all the poor, sick, hurting people at the pool of Bethesda, Jesus chose one, one who had been waiting for 38 years for some miracle. Jesus spoke a word and the man got up and walked!
Two things strike me about this. One is that the invalid had been waiting a long, long time for healing. Thirty-eight years. That is a long time to be broken…a long time to be abused…a long time to be disappointed. 38 years is a long time to wait. A long, long time.
The other is that Jesus chose him. One out of a crowd of many. The Kingdom of God broke in for a moment at the pool of Bethesda. And the miracle that took place is still an example for us today.
As I read the Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, John) I see that Jesus’ approach is extremely personal. The stories are about individuals affected by Jesus and the Kingdom he is bringing.
A man with a son who is possessed.
A centurion with a sick servant.
A woman of Nain with a dead son.
A woman caught in the act of adultery.
A man who had great wealth.
Mary. Lazarus. Peter. Martha. Nicodemus.
Individuals that Jesus chose to be vehicles through which the good news of the Kingdom come is proclaimed.
The fact of the matter is we are still waiting for the fullness of the Kingdom. But, the good news is that God’s choice to show glimmers of the Kingdom in our world, to bring healing and hope, to bring repair and joy, to bring reconciliation and love is still ordinary people like you and me.
Following Jesus is personal. He has chosen you. Stop waiting. Get up and walk and proclaim the Kingdom of God has come!
O God, who chooses individuals out of the crowd to be recipients of the Kingdom; thank you for choosing me. Empower me with your Holy Spirit to proclaim Jesus in word and deed this day. To your glory and honor and praise. Amen.