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John13 – weakening without help

With these things there was a festival of the Judeans, and Jesus ascended into Jerusalem. In fact there is in Jerusalem near the sheep-like a bathing-pool, being on-stated in Hebrew Bethesda, having five porches. In these were lying down a multitude of the weakening: blind, lame, withered. 
“With these things”. What things? Well, the previous incident in John’s eye-witness, first century biography of Jesus had to do with an influential father – “a kingly person” – whose son “was weakening” towards death. (John12)

Thar son was fortunate – he had a father to help him. This time a good number are “weakening” together in resignation towards their end.

In fact a certain man was in there having had thirty-eight years in his weakness. Jesus, having seen this one lying down and having known that he has already a long time, states to him, “Do you desire to come to be whole?” 

38 whole years of “weakness”. By now his daily, hourly position was “lying down”. Several years ago, I used to ask my parents and my in-laws how they were feeling and coping as their strength declined and as they became more and more aware that their own cord of life was fraying. 

Jesus wanted to know if this “someone” was resigned to it all or actually wanted “to become well”. He wanted to become well.

‘When God is our strength, it is strength indeed; when our strength is our own, it is only weakness.’(Augustine of Hippo, theologian, 354-430)
The weakening one answered him, “Lord, I do not have a man in order that, when the water may be disturbed, he may put me into the bathing-pool. In fact in that I myself am coming, another descends before me.” 

 Apparently, there were cures at this Bethesda Pool from time to time. But this “someone” was too weak to lift himself into the water and all the others there looked after themselves rather than him. 

This “someone” had nobody who could help him with this. No hope. Things are not that much different today – when push turns to shove and we’re all protecting ourselves from Covid – not too bothered about curing others.

Jesus states to him, “Rise up! Take your mat and walk!” And immediately the man came to be whole and took his mat and was walking. In fact it was a sabbath on that same day. 

Someone does care. As soon as Jesus, having asked, is told that this “someone” does want “to be well”, he sees to it. Direct. No water. No magic.

So the Judeans were stating to the one who having been healed, “It is a sabbath, and it is not permitted to you to take the mat.” In fact he answered them, “That same one who made me whole—that one said to me, ‘Take your mat and walk!’” 

The devout, religious folk in Jerusalem had not earlier bothered about this “someone”. But they suddenly spring into action. Although “made well”, he mustn’t carry his mat around. Not on the Sabbath.

The trouble was that it was the man who had made him well who had told him to walk around carrying his mat. He had also made him well on the Sabbath. A new “Sabbath” had arrived on earth - in Jerusalem. The religious were unaware. This universal “weakening” – no matter how long or how advanced or how bad – was now reversible. At last.

So they asked him, “Who is the man who said to you, ‘Take and walk!’?” In fact the one who was healed had not discerned who it is, because Jesus edged away, a crowd being in the place. 

I like the fact that Jesus had “edged away”. I’ve had enough of recent claims of “election wins”, “integrity”, “doing whatever it takes”, “we can hack it”. Give me the all-powerful one who, silently, is stronger than all my weakness.

‘Nothing is so sweet and beautiful, yet to ambitious men so surprising, as the humility of the Lord Jesus.’ (Walter Chantry)
With these things Jesus finds him in the temple and said to him, “Look! You have come to be whole. Sin no longer, in order that something worse may not come to be to you!”

Yes, he had “become well”. Now he needed to avoid “worse” (what was that?) “coming into being” for him.

Sinner Syvret

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