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17 March 2015

Read today’s Gospel Reading:  John 5.1-3, 5-16

Today’s reading takes us to the waters of Beth Zatha, where people used to wait for the still waters of the pool to stir, so they could bathe there and benefit from the spa’s famed healing properties. So popular was this in Jesus’ time that sick and disabled people gathered there day by day hoping it would be their turn to be made well.

You can still see the remains of the five porticoes mentioned in today’s reading, not far from the Sheep Gate in the Old City of Jerusalem, but the waters have long since ebbed away. Under the Romans, the pools were dedicated to Fortuna and Asclepius, the gods of fortune and of healing. A special place to Jews, it had been hijacked by the Roman occupying forces for their pagan gods. Unfortunately neither the waters nor their supposed spiritual properties seemed to work – at least not for the paralysed man we read of here.

He has been waiting so long he has forgotten what it was like to walk freely. He longs to be made whole. The problem is that when the waters stir there is nobody available to help him. I wonder why not?

Whatever the reason, he doesn’t get time to go into it, because Jesus stops him with a simple and clear command: ‘Stand up, take your mat, and walk.’ And to the man’s astonishment, and no doubt to all those around him, that is exactly what he did.

So often we look in the wrong place for solutions to our problems. We spend too long waiting around for something to happen – but when we meet Jesus, he speaks with authority and gives us exactly the ‘get up and go’ that we need.

More than anything we need Jesus, who through his death and resurrection has given us forgiveness for past sins, new life for the present, and real hope for the future. Give your life to Him; encounter Him.

Today’s Gospel Reading:  John 5.1-3, 5-16

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 paralysed. 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.