March 8, 2016
Tuesday of the Fourth Week of Lent
The good news for the Day
After some time, Jesus found the sick man He had cured—now well—in the house of prayer, and said: “OK, you’re healthy now. Don’t go astray again, or worse might happen to you.” The man went and let Jewish authorities know that it was Jesus who had caused his well-being. It was on this account that the authorities began to investigate Jesus–for practicing medicine on the day of prayer. (John 5)
For THIRTY-EIGHT YEARS!—this man had lain sick. He remained uncured because he could not “get into the water” in time. Maybe he was a hypochondriac—or maybe really sick in a subtler, invisible way. The cure, however, probably offered mixed results; all these years his condition elicited sympathy and help—now they’re gone! Did friends and family mock him, accuse him of fraud, make him suffer guilt? Did they mock his “miracle”? And did he have to earn a living now?
We see a wrap-up of the tale. Jesus implies that he had “gone astray.” “…or worse things can happen,” Jesus warns. He had sinned—and it was time to re-shape his life. The man resents this remark, and tattles on Jesus to authorities —“it was “Him” what got me well on the Sabbath.”
Jesus uses the Sabbath—the day of prayer—and religion generally—not as limiting or coercive. Jesus views a “day of prayer” as a day of liberation—a day to free people. God wants us to use His law as guidance, not as oppression—as liberty and not as imprisonment. Big Difference!
The Good News is—to Free People. From demons. From death. From the oppression of injustice and wrongs. To raise people, not judge them. To awaken them not enchain them. Your “church” is a hospital, not a private club—an open-armed hug, and not a “slap the sinner.” How you think of it makes all the difference.