Day 30 Devotional & Discussion – March 24, 2015

John 5:1-18

Bethesda means “house of grace”, but there hasn’t been much grace to be found in this place for this man who has been waiting for 38 years to jump into the magic waters where he will be healed of his disability (and finally employable.) What parallels do you see between his situation and our current “labor pool”? We often see thousands of desperate people lining up to apply for a few jobs. Only the lucky few get the grace. How does Jesus’ action challenge the system?

Once the man is healed, he is stopped by the Sabbath police and ticketed for working! What mindset is at the heart of the actions of the Jewish leaders? Where do you see similar mindsets today?

Jesus says that God is at work all the time. What do you think God’s work is in relationship to employment?



  1. Amos 5:24 seems applicable here – But let justice roll on like a river,
    righteousness like a never-failing stream!
    Because the exact opposite is the normal – the status quo we are afraid to change. Plenty of injustice to bear witness to. Should the sick man in the story be considered insane, as well as sick, for expecting mercy.
    I had a friend – Chris Drew who made a humble living as an artist and print maker. He insisted he had a right to distribute prints for free and accept alms in the streets of Chicago. He was arrested many times though he claimed it was his free speech being violated.He was vindicated after he passed away.
    In my mind the water has been mostly drained out of the healing pool of our society. Healing occurs outside society’s norm. It can occur today when we band together to establish the Kingdom where suffering will be a thing of the past.
    The physical presence of Christ has slipped away as in the story. The authorities have been searching for his defiant healing spirit through the ages. So have we. They want to crucify that spirit. We want it to rule the world.

  2. The Jewish leaders felt that Rabbinic law was an explication of Scrpture, and was binding. A hierarchy developed where few, who had the privilege of a lifetime of study, created Torah law that was binding for all. To my way of thinking, early Jewish law (halacha) was derved from the perspective of the few. This reminds me of the way Scrpture is sometimes interpreted to maintain an unjust status quo. Some promise eternal life to those being oppressed, while the oppressors accept their reward in this life.

  3. This passage gave me flashbacks of the summer of 2010 when a group from Faith Church spent time with you all from Kimball Avenue in Chicago. Numerous times throughout that week I was scratching my head trying to figure out what I was being presented with. On one hand I knew there was truth in what I was seeing. But on the other hand, I had never thought of things that way before, and I really struggled to assimilate it! Actually twice in the last month or so, that trip has entered conversation with different people, and both times the description was the same. We’ve gone to Jamaica, Costa Rica, and soon Kenya, but I don’t think any of those foreign trips have stretched us, in a very good way, like our time with you in Chicago. And most significantly our time with you has had the most lasting impact here in Lancaster. I think we need to visit you again. All that to say, I’m not totally sure how to answer this!!!!

    Andy, am I right in understanding your comments are seeing a more metaphorical connection between the story from Jesus’ day to our own?

    1. Joel it would be great to see you guys again.
      I do think I see the connection between Jesus day and our own, It has to do with the hierarchies that are self serving and, as Rick points out, evolve so as to oppress. I also think today we have a situation where the poor and the disabled are made to wait and now are being denied. The suffering that could be easily relieved is going on today on a grand scale. For Christians taking a hard look at the healing and especially miraculous healing is on the agenda right now. The reality is SO much could be done for so many right now. I believe Jesus healing here obviously undermines the authorities and is maybe seditious in its compassion. I believe we should follow in his footsteps.First by recognizing the outrageousness of the “rules” and then gathering the church to do the “miracle” in defiance of the authorities. I pray for a church so courageous as to put unrelenting pressure for healing on society. When healing is based on ability to pay it cannot go on in any miraculous sense.

      1. Thanks Andy. This conversation reminds me of a line from World War Z. Brad Pitt’s character is a United Nations agent who travels to Jerusalem on a mission to save the world from a zombie apocalypse. Jerusalem built a massive wall around the city in advance of the plague, and Pitt’s character asks the guy how they knew to do this when no other nation in the world had that foresight. The official in Jerusalem responded by saying that after having faced so many atrocities over the decades, they finally got to the point where they created a 10th person rule. When faced with a major situation, a group of ten would decide what to do. If 9 of the 10 agreed, the 10th man’s task was to disagree on purpose. Even if he didn’t believe what he was saying, he had to seriously look at things a different way. That official was the 10th man, and when they heard reports of a small zombie uprising, no one gave it credibility. So his job was to give it credibility, he won them over, and they built the wall.

        You guys at Kimball Ave, are like the 10th man. And I say that with great respect.

        I agree that we need to do much. In the last five years here in Lancaster we’ve seen great strides. But I suspect, to go back to the mercy vs. justice concern, that much of what we do is mercy-oriented. Where is the justice? To answer that, we need to call injustice what it is, injustice. That I find to be quite difficult. And that is where I appreciate so much your 10th man perspective, calling things injustice. So I’ve committed myself to listen.

    2. I’m with Andy! I would LOVE to have you all visit Chicago again! We’ve learned so much since your last visit about what it means to be people of LIFE in the midst of a system of DEATH. And, great insights, Rick and Andy. I know this Fast Food Fast is called “Not Lovin’ It”, but I have to confess that I’m LOVIN’ the interactions and insights and challenges of the Lenten Compact!

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