Gospel Reading: John 5:1-16
1 After this there was a feast of the Jews, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. 2 Now there is in Jerusalem by the Sheep Gate a pool, in Hebrew called Beth-za'tha, which has five porticoes. 3 In these lay a multitude of invalids, blind, lame, paralyzed.5 One man was there, who had been ill for thirty-eight years. 6 When Jesus saw him and knew that he had been lying there a long time, he said to him, "Do you want to be healed?" 7 The sick man answered him, "Sir, I have no man to put me into the pool when the water is troubled, and while I am going another steps down before me." 8 Jesus said to him, "Rise, take up your pallet, and walk." 9 And at once the man was healed, and he took up his pallet and walked. Now that day was the Sabbath. 10 So the Jews said to the man who was cured, "It is the Sabbath, it is not lawful for you to carry your pallet." 11 But he answered them, "The man who healed me said to me, `Take up your pallet, and walk.'" 12 They asked him, "Who is the man who said to you, `Take up your pallet, and walk'?" 13 Now the man who had been healed did not know who it was, for Jesus had withdrawn, as there was a crowd in the place. 14 Afterward, Jesus found him in the temple, and said to him, "See, you are well! Sin no more, that nothing worse befall you." 15 The man went away and told the Jews that it was Jesus who had healed him. 16 And this was why the Jews persecuted Jesus, because he did this on the Sabbath.
Old Testament Reading: Ezekiel 47:1-9,12
1 Then he brought me back to the door of the temple; and behold, water was issuing from below the threshold of the temple toward the east (for the temple faced east); and the water was flowing down from below the south end of the threshold of the temple, south of the altar... 12 And on the banks, on both sides of the river, there will grow all kinds of trees for food. Their leaves will not wither nor their fruit fail, but they will bear fresh fruit every month, because the water for them flows from the sanctuary. Their fruit will be for food, and their leaves for healing." (Ezekiel 47:1,12)
Meditation: Is there anything holding you back from the Lord's healing power and transforming grace that can set you free to live in wholeness, joy, and peace with God? God put into the heart of the prophet Ezekiel a vision of the rivers of living water flowing from God's heavenly throne to bring healing and restoration to his people. We begin to see the fulfillment of this restoration taking place when the Lord Jesus announces the coming of God's kingdom and performs signs and miracles in demonstration of the power of that kingdom.
One of the key signs which John points out in his Gospel account takes place in Jerusalem when Jesus went up to the temple during one of the great Jewish feasts (John 5:1-9). As Jesus approached the temple area he stopped at the pool of Bethzatha which was close by. Many Jews brought their sick relatives and friends to this pool. John tells us that a "multitude of invalids, blind, lame, paralyzed" were laid there on the pavement surrounding the pool (John 5:3). This pool was likely one of the ritual baths used for purification for people before they went into the temple to offer prayers and sacrifice. On certain occassions, especially when the waters were stirred, the lame and others with diseases were dipped in the pool in the hope that they might be cured of their ailments.
The lame man that Jesus stopped to speak with had been paralyzed for more than 38 years. He felt helpless because he had no friends to help him bathe in the purifying waters of the pool. Despite his many years of unanswered prayer, he still waited by the pool in the hope that help might come his way. Jesus offered this incurable man not only the prospect of help but total healing as well. Jesus first awakened faith in the paralyzed man when he put a probing question to him, "Do you really want to be healed?" This question awakened a new spark of faith in him. Jesus then ordered him to "get up and walk!" Now the lame man had to put his new found faith into action. He decided to take the Lord Jesus at his word and immediately stood up and began to walk freely.
The Lord Jesus approaches each one of us with the same probing question, "Do you really want to be healed - to be forgiven, set free from guilt and sin, from uncontrollable anger and other disordered passions, and from hurtful desires and addictions. The first essential step towards freedom and healing is the desire for change. If we are content to stay as we are, then no amount of coaxing will change us. The Lord will not refuse anyone who sincerely askes for his pardon, mercy, and healing.
"Lord Jesus, put within my heart a burning desire to be changed and transformed in your way of holiness. Let your Holy Spirit purify my heart and renew in me a fervent love and desire to do whatever is pleasing to you and to refuse whatever is contrary to your will."
1 God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.
2 Therefore we will not fear though the earth should change, though the mountains shake in the heart of the sea;
3 though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble with its tumult. [Selah]
4 There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy habitation of the Most High.
5 God is in the midst of her, she shall not be moved; God will help her right early.
7 The LORD of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge. [Selah]
8 Come, behold the works of the LORD, how he has wrought desolations in the earth.
A Daily Quote for Lent: Christ our physician, by Augustine of Hippo, 430-543 A.D.
"Our wound is serious, but the Physician is all-powerful. Does it seem to you so small a mercy that, while you were living in evil and sinning, He did not take away your life, but brought you to belief and forgave your sins? What I suffer is serious, but I trust the Almighty. I would despair of my mortal wound if I had not found so great a Physician." (excerpt from Sermon 352,3)
Scripture quotations from Common Bible: Revised Standard Version of the Bible, copyright 1973, and Ignatius Edition of the Revised Standard Version of the Bible, copyright 2006, by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
references for quotes from the writings of the early church fathers.
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