Thursday, February 20, 2014

John 5:1-9 Walk with me again

Some time later, Jesus went up to Jerusalem for one of the Jewish festivals. Now there is in Jerusalem near the Sheep Gate a pool, which in Aramaic is called Bethesda and which is surrounded by five covered colonnades. Here 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?”
“Sir,” the invalid replied, “I have no one to help me into the pool when the water is stirred. While I am trying to get in, someone else goes down ahead of me.”
Then Jesus said to him, “Get up! Pick up your mat and walk.” At once the man was cured; he picked up his mat and walked.


Our story continues . . .

Ephraim! Ephraim! My old friend, are you still awake? Yes, yes, it is I, your companion of childhood, Daniel. I have traveled all day from the village, along the dusty roads to reach Jerusalem.
Ah, many thanks, my friend, for opening your door. Yes, a draught of water would be welcome. I am indeed parched. I am not as young as I used to be, and the trip was strenuous.

I must tell you, Ephraim, what has been happening in the village. Do you recall the other day, when we passed by the pool of Bethesda? I mentioned to you that a cousin of Miriam's was there at the pool -- had been for many years.You will never believe this, Ephraim -- he is healed!

Yes, I see you are astonished, as was I! Yet it is true! Amariah (that is his name) is there in the village, and he can walk and stand and sit just as well as any other healthy man! (You know, Ephraim, that his name means "Yahweh has said" and I'll tell you more about that in a minute.)

Amariah told us the most amazing story -- he says that a certain Jesus, a Nazarene, born into an humble family and trained in carpentry, came to the pool that same day that we walked by. He must have been there for the festival. Anyway, He was told about Amariah, about how he was paralytic and had been there for so long . . . and He looked down at him and said, "Do you want to get well?"  Can you imagine asking someone at the pool of Bethesda that question? Well, of course, Amariah wanted to get well, and he explained to this Jesus (and His disciples, who were standing there with Him) that he had no way of getting to the water if the angel stirred it up.

Do you know what happened then, Ephraim? Well, of course you don't -- this Jesus looked at Amariah and told him to get up! And to top it all off, He said to pick up his mat, and walk! The way I hear it, everyone who heard gasped in surprise, for they all knew Amariah had been unable to move on his own for years! 
But this is the amazing part -- Amariah said he felt an incredible feeling all through his body -- he suddenly had the energy of a youth -- and he reached down and put his hands on the stone floor and raised himself up! And then he rolled up his mat, placed it over his shoulder, and walked!
He says he felt like kicking up his heels and dancing, but he walked as he had been told. He didn't stop walking until he reached the village, and then he began to tell everyone his story.
Oy! The house has been full of people and chatter and feasting! The rabbi came and verified that he was really our cousin Amariah, and that he'd been healed. (Our rabbi says that it is significant that Amariah's name is "Yahweh has said" for that is what happened . . . this Jesus had only to speak, and he was healed!)
You should hear the stories that have been told around our humble table: stories of how this same Jesus turned water into wine at a wedding festival, and how he was baptized by John the Baptist, and many saw a dove that came and landed on his shoulder, as if it came from heaven. Some people say that it's whispered that his mother, Mary, was pregnant before her marriage to Joseph, and that her cousin Elizabeth said it was the Spirit of God that overshadowed her and she conceived.

Oh, Ephraim! Old friend, I am convinced that Jesus is the Messiah that the rabbi told us about, in our classes as young boys in the village. Surely you are not so wealthy and worldly that you do not remember our lessons! The prophets foretold that our Savior would be born of a virgin, and that He would do many signs and wonders. Come with me and see Him. Come away from Jerusalem, to the places where He preaches and teaches the throngs of people who come to hear Him. I've heard that the Pharisees do not like Him, but I will not let that stop me! I want to hear more from the One who healed Amariah; He may be the One that was promised. The One who will save us, whose mercy endureth forever!

It may be, Ephraim, that this One, Jesus, is the all-powerful Savior -- far more powerful than the water of the pool of Bethesda . . .


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