St Alban’s Episcopal Church
Tuesday, May 24, 2022
John 5:1-9 The Story We MissedLast Sunday
We had two options for last Sunday’s Gospel reading – John 14:23-29, which I used, and John 5:1-9. But we don’t want to miss this second story.
After Jesus healed the son of the royal official, there was a festival of the Jews, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. Now in Jerusalem by the Sheep Gate there is a pool, called in Hebrew, Beth-zatha, which has five porticoes. In these lay many invalids – blind, lame, and paralyzed. One man was there who had been ill for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him lying there and knew that he had been there for a long time, he said to him, “Do you want to be made well?” 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.” Jesus said to him, “Stand up, take your mat and walk.” At once the man was made well, and he took up his mat and began to walk. Now that day was a sabbath. (If you are used to other translations/version, you will notice that what was verse 4, a much later addition to the story is omitted. It was added for the sake of non-Jews who wouldn’t understand the story without it. It explains that the angel of the Lord sometimes came and “stirred up” the water, and that the first to get in when the water was stirred up, would be healed.)
Why does this story matter?
I’d like to suggest that it matters to us because it makes it clear that the healing that Jesus brought had nothing to do with the spiritual state of the one who was healed – We too often assume that people are sick, mentally, emotionally or physically, because of their lack of faith, or their sinful nature, or whatever. But in this story we see a guy who is simply healed because that’s what God does – who doesn’t ask for healing, doesn’t respond with gratitude, and doesn’t show the smallest amount of faith! If you read on you’ll discover that he took off after he was healed, and didn’t even bother to find out Jesus’ name, and was even happy to turn Jesus in to the religious authorities who were angry that he had healed on the Sabbath. Not the sort of person you would want Jesus to heal. But he did. And yes, that’s an Easter message. Alleluia!