This time I’m first :-).
The first line that struck me was …
When Jesus saw him lying there and knew that he had been ill for a long time, he said to him, “Do you want to be well?”
… this might seem like a strange question for Jesus to ask but I think I understand it. Sometimes change, even for the better, is scary and it can be easier to have things remain the same, even when they are bad … the badness you know may be preferable to the goodness you don’t.
Jesus found him in the temple area and said to him, “Look, you are well; do not sin any more, so that nothing worse may happen to you.”
… ok, this creeps me out a little. Is Jesus saying that the guy was crippled because he had sinned, that if one sins, bad things will happen to them? I thought God caused the sun to rise on both good and bad alike, so to speak.
Therefore, the Jews began to persecute Jesus because he did this on a sabbath.
… Jesus here seems to be saying (through actions) that the Sabbath was made for men, not the other way around … the spirit of the law trumps the letter.
After this 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 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. So the Jews said to the man who had been cured, “It is the sabbath; it is not lawful for you to carry your mat.”
But he answered them, “The man who made me well said to me, ‘Take up your mat and walk.'”
They asked him, “Who is the man who said to you, ‘Take it up and walk’?”
Now the man who had been healed did not know who it was, for Jesus had disappeared in the crowd that was there. Later Jesus found him in the temple and said to him, “See, you have been made well! Do not sin any more, so that nothing worse happens to you.”
The man went away and told the Jews that it was Jesus who had made him well. Therefore the Jews started persecuting Jesus, because he was doing such things on the sabbath.
But Jesus answered them, “My Father is still working, and I also am working.”
For this reason the Jews were seeking all the more to kill him, because he was not only breaking the sabbath, but was also calling God his own Father, thereby making himself equal to God.
I note this is a man of wealth and privilege. And it is a healing at a distance. So it parallels the healing of the centurion’s servant.
The healing is at Jesus’ word and not dependent upon the official’s faith. We hear the official left believing Jesus and in obedience to Jesus but we are told the healing took place in the hour Jesus had spoken and not when the official believed.
I think this important. A lot of spirituality depends upon our mindset and not God’s timetable. If I feel distant from God I interpret this as God’s absence and not my tiredness, distraction, worldliness, or other. And this plays out over and over in popular religiosity.
When I was — maybe fourteen — our family on a long trip stopt by a shopping mall one summer. When I got tired and could find no bench I returned to the car and sat on the bumper to relive my feet that were aching. A woman saw me there and noting my disability came and offered to pray for me.
I consented — though at the time I was in my teenage way — seeing myself as an agnostic and shading towards atheist. She prayed for at least two minutes. And my parents came cross the parking lot and I started to squirm in embarrassment.
“Oh,well,” she said. “You don’t have enough faith to be healed.” And she went on her way.
I wish this story were unique but there are few disabled people who do not have similar horrors to recount and I know of at least one other person who has sworn never to enter a church on account of such a story.
God’s time not ours. God’s work. Not ours.
The faith of the official always humbles me with its simple purity. He wants Jesus to come to his son, but Jesus tells him to go, that his son is healed. He obeys Jesus. Does he believe that his son is healed? It seems so, because he does not ask again. Do I have such a simple faith? Would I believe? He says his son is healed — if he believes that Jesus can heal, he should believe whatever Jesus says, and he does.
Upon hearing the report of his son’s recovery, he asks when it began. From this answer, he knows it was when Jesus said those words to him. This is sort of heartening to me, he does seek confirmation that this was Jesus’s act by asking when the healing took place. Once hearing this, he believes. I hope my faith is like that — I may need a bit of reassurance, but once given, I hope that I don’t continue to question or look for other reasons.
The part that stood out for me – Jesus says “Unless you people see signs and wonders, you will not believe.” as if he’s miffed, yet still he does as asked.
I know now that many (most?) people don’t take the miracles of Jesus literally, but that’s what I’ve been doing, and until I began this study group, I hadn’t realized how unusual that is. The hard part for me was believing in God at all – a supernatural being – the leap to believing in miracles seemed no big stretch after that. Part of the miracles thing, to me, is the question of whether God intervenes in the natural world. I’d like to thiink so … that he answers prayers just as Jesus in this passage answered the request of the Official to heal his son.
David has already pointed out to us the signs (or miracles in the KJV). Here is the list of 7 (a magic number of course; look up ‘seven signs’ in google; you will be amazed. Then look up “seven signs john”):
The concept of signs loomed very big in John. Commentators have selected 7 incidents where Jesus performed a “miracle” (so that people might “believe on him” and have “eternal life”):
1. the Wedding at Cana (Chapter Two)
2. healing of the nobleman’s son (Four)
3. healing of the lame man (Five)
4. feeding of 5000 (Six)
5. walking on water (Six)
6. healing of the blind man (Nine)
7. raising of Lazarus (Eleven)
John wrote these stories to convince people, so they might ‘believe’ and have ‘eternal life’. Once again: this belief was not to a set of intellectual propositions, but as emphasized in the synoptics, a matter of trust in what Jesus said, in the gospel.
Trusting in the truth of Jesus’ words and actions, we commit ourselves to the Way (14:6).
Then he came again to Cana in Galilee where he had changed the water into wine. Now there was a royal official whose son lay ill in Capernaum. When he heard that Jesus had come from Judea to Galilee, he went and begged him to come down and heal his son, for he was at the point of death.
Then Jesus said to him, “Unless you see signs and wonders you will not believe.”
The official said to him, “Sir, come down before my little boy dies.”
Jesus said to him, “Go; your son will live.”
The man believed the word that Jesus spoke to him and started on his way. As he was going down, his slaves met him and told him that his child was alive. So he asked them the hour when he began to recover, and they said to him, “Yesterday at one in the afternoon the fever left him.”
The father realized that this was the hour when Jesus had said to him, “Your son will live.” So he himself believed, along with his whole household. Now this was the second sign that Jesus did after coming from Judea to Galilee.
Like Crystal, I learned that the woman specifically went to the well at the hottest time of the day to avoid meeting up with anyone. Was she ashamed? Was she simply trying to avoid others who might treat her unkindly? Did she want to avoid the feeling of being shunned? Her isolation must have been very painful.
I love the redemption implicit in this passage. This woman is living in sin, she has a bad reputation but Jesus offers her salvation. In turn, the sinner goes to bring others to salvation when she witnesses to those in her town. That must have been difficult for her — she may have been avoiding contact with others and now she returns to tell her townsfolk the good news.
Like David, I’m responding to your post about the woman at the well. Yes, I feel like the woman at the well, too, Crystal, and I also feel like Christ talking to her.
Wallflowers! For some strange reason my fate, and perhaps Christian calling has so often been to relate to the one nobody else wants to talk to. In fact at the Church of the Saviour, when I first went there, Old Louise (about my age at present) had started a sharing group for the outsiders; I was one of them. They became a mighty force in that church, but one of the church executives asked me suspiciously why I spent all my time with those on the periphery.
Don’t know what happened but the link to the comments page under your posting leads to a deadlink. I think maybe blogger is having a bad day.
I’m intrigued by … ‘One sows and another reaps.’ I sent you to reap that for which you did not labor. Others have labored, and you have entered into their labor. … I don’t really understand what this means.
My best guess — which not likely much better than yours — is that the “others who have laboured” are the prophets from the Hebrew scriptures. The prophets sowed the seeds, tended the fields, and Jesus’ disciples reap the harvest.