sponsored by:   and 

Friday, July 10, 2009


Send a link to a friend

[July 10, 2009]   --  "Jesus said to him, 'stand up, take your mat and walk.'"-John 5:8

This healing story is working on several different levels. First, Jesus is healing a man who had been sick for 38 years. The man was lying by the Bethzatha pool, known in those days for its healing powers, but he had no one to help him into the pool. Jesus asks the man if he would like to be made well, the man of course says "yes," and Jesus calmly tells him to take his mat, stand up and walk.

 HardwareThe man does exactly this for, what we can only assume, is the first time in 38 years. In this sense it is a basic healing story. Except that Jesus performed this miracle on the Sabbath, the holy day of rest. And in this lies the controversy. You see, nothing like this was to be done on the Sabbath. The man was not supposed to carry his mat on the Sabbath and Jesus certainly should not have healed anyone on the Sabbath. The religious leaders were very angry about all this and, once again, threatened to kill Jesus.

Our first response to this controversy is often to curse the religious leaders. Those fools, we think, couldn't they tell that their rules didn't matter in the face of Jesus' ministry? But when we do this we gloss over one thing. Technically, they were correct. Technically, according to the law, Jesus was in the wrong. He should not have done what he did but in his actions he calls our attention to an often unnoticed conflict; the conflict between that which is good (healing) and that which is just (following the law). Today we often assume the laws are correct. They are there for a reason, we surmise, and ought to be obeyed. But sometimes, often in some cases, the law is not good. How can it be? Even Jesus says, "only God is good," and while we may root our laws in God, they themselves are not good. Today we too can casually dismiss the good, even be infuriated by it, just because it is not in accordance with the law. I am not going to make a list for you but if you put your mind to it you can probably come up with a few instances where the law is not good. It may be just, but it is not good. So on this day I invite you to spend some time pondering this contradiction between the justice of the law and the occasional goodness of breaking it and see if, in some ways, we may not have more in common with those religious leaders than we think.

Prayer: Holy God, help me to distinguish between the justice of the law and your goodness. Help me to see those places where the law is counter to that which is good. I pray in the name of Jesus the Christ. Amen.

[text from file received by Phil Blackburn, First Presbyterian Church]



< Recent articles

Back to top


News | Sports | Business | Rural Review | Teaching & Learning | Home and Family | Tourism | Obituaries

Community | Perspectives | Law & Courts | Leisure Time | Spiritual Life | Health & Fitness | Teen Scene
Calendar | Letters to the Editor