Friday, April 29, 2016

Always being in trouble

Are you in trouble? Do you want to be in troubled waters? Then consider this:

 There once was a man who was trapped on the roof of his house in the middle of a flood. The waters swiftly surrounded the house and kept rising and rising. In the hopes of rescuing him, a neighbour drove his pick up to the house of the trapped man and shouted, “Jump in the back! Jump in the back! I’ll get you to safety.” But the man on the roof shouted back, “My God will save me! My God will come and save me.” So the neighbour left and the waters continued to rise.

A short time later, two people in a boat came along and wanted the trapped man to come and get in the boat. They pleaded with him saying “Jump in! Jump in! And we will get you to safety.” But the man refused and so they pair left him there on the roof waiting for God to save him.

Not long after that, as the water was to the roof now and the man who was trapped could feel the house moving in the water, a helicopter came along with a basket on the rope. The pilot called down to the man on the roof trying to urging him to get in the basket. He told him that the house was about to be destroyed and the man had no time left. But still the man on the roof steadfastly refused to get in the basket and go to safety, claiming that God would save him. As the pilot hovered and watched, the man on his roof was swept away in the current with his house and he drowned.

When he appeared before the throne of God he was cheeky and asked the Almighty why he had not come down and rescued him from the flood. God said to the man, I did try to save you. I sent a truck, a boat, and helicopter. What more could I have done for you that I did not do? Next time, jump and get in!

The Gospel this week deals with troubled waters but these waters had a good purpose. If you could get in when the waters were stirred up, you could be healed. But you had to get there first and that meant that there was going to be some of the necessary pushing, shoving and bullying to get there. The man in the story that is confronted by Jesus has been infirm for a long time. 38 years he has been in this situation... had he been in this “House of Mercy” (for this is what Bethesda means) for all of that time trying to get better by getting into the water but not getting any help to get there. So there has been years of futility and possibly one is on the verge of giving up if one has not done so already.
So in my mind, the question Jesus asks, “Do you want to be healed?” is a logical one.

Are you ready to be healed or have you given up. It is a question that all of us need to face from time to time. And the healing that comes may not what we expect. God does not always ask and sometimes people are healed when no faith has been seemingly present. Jesus looks at this man, his faith (or lack thereof), the pain, the sorrow and the mounting frustration and chooses to offer him another way.

One of the things that we need to consider is that in this part of John’s Gospel, the sovereignty of God is being tested. How does and how should God act? Why does he offer mercy to one person in a place of mercy and not to another? Why should someone be healed on the Sabbath? Isn’t that against how God works because there are six days in the week to do work and only one to rest? No rule breaker can be on par with God! Does this Jesus really believe that a man can be on par with God?

And where did Jesus disappear to when the Jewish leaders wanted to know who it was that performed this miraculous work on a Sabbath. Remember something important: it was not yet time for there to be a blatant confrontation between Jesus and the authorities. What John’s Gospel is trying to show us is the differences in the people who do believe and don’t believe in Jesus. He is showing us what happens when one person – a cripple has his whole life true and upside down - by saying yes, not only to being healed but in saying yes to Jesus.

So I would put the question to you gentle reader: who is Jesus and who is he to you? There were many in Israel who claimed to be believers in God but would not accept Christ because they looked at him from a purely human point of view. They were not able to see the “signs” God was doing in Christ and the lives that were being changed as a result. Do you believe that Jesus is the Christ and do you receive his abundant, eternal life as your own?

Let this Church be a Bethesda – a house of God’s mercy for those who are in trouble - so that people can come in and find rest and healing. Let every day in this place that there is between now and when Christ comes again be a Sabbath where people can come in and find the “rest” of God Almighty and in doing so find physical recuperation and spiritual refreshing.   


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