Weekly Bible Study
Jesus' Healings: God Touches Us Where We Hurt With Love
Throughout Lent and Easter we are keying-in on the healing stories of Jesus in all four Gospels. We will lean-in to those stories, and discover how God still touches us where we hurt with love today. Given the Covid-19 pandemic it will likely be some time before we can meet, again, at our usual Thursday 10 a.m. slot. Nonetheless, we will continue this timely Bible study series online and by email. As always ... checking-in with one another to see how we're doing ... and lifting each other up in prayer, along with all who have need.
Wonder of Wonders … God Makes Whole! John 4 & 5
As you read each excerpt of John 4:46 – 5:9 below, prayerfully ponder each question.
4:46 Jesus came again to Cana in Galilee where he had changed the water into wine. Now there was a royal official whose son lay ill in Capernaum. 47 When he heard that Jesus had come from Judea to Galilee, he went and begged him to come down and heal his son, for he was at the point of death. What clue do these verses indicate about why anyone might think Jesus could heal them or someone they love?
48 Jesus said mostly to himself, “Unless all of you see signs and wonders you will not believe!” 49 The official said to him, “Sir, come down before my little boy dies!” 50 Jesus said to him, “Go; your son will live!” Why was this royal official impatient obviously? What does that say to you about Jesus’ ability to handle our impatience … our humanity?
The man believed the word Jesus spoke to him and started on his way. 51 As he was going down, his slaves met him and told him that his child was alive. 52 So he asked them the hour when he began to recover, and they said, “Yesterday at one in the afternoon the fever left him.” 53 The father realized this was the hour when Jesus had said to him, “Your son will live.” So he himself believed, along with his whole household. 54 Now this was the second sign that Jesus did after coming from Judea to Galilee. … Jesus met that father’s impatience with an equally blunt command – “Go! Your son will live!” Is the feeling of our prayers (or even the words we choose) as important as the faith that lives behind our prayers?
Why do you think God honors faith more than how well – even how *politically correct* we may or may not put our prayers?
5:1 After this there was a festival of the Jewish people, so Jesus went up to Jerusalem. 2 In Jerusalem by the Sheep Gate there is a pool called … Bethsaida which has five porticoes. 3 In these lay many invalids: blind, lame, and paralyzed, each waiting for the stirring of the water. 4 For an angel of the Lord went down at certain seasons into the pool, and stirred up the water; whoever stepped in first after the stirring of the water was made well from whatever disease that person had. 5 One man was there who had been ill for thirty-eight years. 6 When Jesus saw him lying there and knew that he had been there a long time, he asked, “Do you want to be made well?” 7 The sick man replied, “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.” 8 Jesus said to him, “Stand up, take your mat and walk.” 9 At once the man was made well. He took up his mat and began to walk. Now that day was a Sabbath. Does it seem odd that our Lord doesn’t ask the man, “What’s wrong with you?” Why ask him instead, “Do you want to be made well?” Is physical or emotional healing, in this life, hardly ever without pain or struggle? How would you like to be made well, to be made whole? As you pray the prayer below, please fill in the blank with your bold, direct request for physical, emotional or spiritual healing.
Loving Jesus, heal me of my affliction, my ___________. For only in You can I be made truly and eternally whole. Thank you! Amen.
MIDWEEK LENT WEDNESDAY MARCH 25, 2020
Good News People Monologue – Man Born Blind
Scripture – John 9:1-3, 6-38 1 As Jesus walked along, he saw a man blind from birth. 2 His disciples asked, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” 3 Jesus answered, “Neither this man nor his parents sinned; he was born blind so that God’s works can be revealed in him. 6 Then Jesus spat on the ground and made mud with the saliva and spread the mud on the man’s eyes, 7 telling him, “Go, wash in the pool of Siloam” (which means Sent). So he went and washed and came back able to see. 8 The neighbors and those who had seen him before as a beggar began to ask, “Isn’t this the man who used to sit and beg?” 9 Some said, “It is he.” Others said, “No, but it’s someone like him.” But the healed man kept saying, “I am the man!” 10 But they kept asking, “So how were your eyes opened?” 11 He said, “The man Jesus made mud, spread it on my eyes, and said, ‘Go to Siloam – wash.’ Then I went, washed and received my sight.” 12 They asked “Where is he?” He said, “I don’t know.”
13 They brought to the Temple Pharisees the man who had been blind. 14 It was a Sabbath day when Jesus made the mud and opened his eyes. 15 So the Pharisees also began to ask how he’d received his sight. He said, “Jesus put mud on my eyes. I washed, and now I see.” 16 Some of those Pharisees said, “This man is not from God; he does not keep Sabbath law.” Others said, “How can a sinful man perform such miraculous signs?” So they were divided. 17 Then they asked the man, “What do you say about Jesus? It was your eyes he opened.” The man said, “He is a prophet!”
18 The authorities did not believe the man had been blind and received his sight until they called his parents 19 and asked them, “Is this your son, who you say was born blind? How then does he now see?” 20 His parents said, “We know this is our son, and that he was born blind; 21 but we do not know how it is that he sees, nor who opened his eyes. Ask him; he is of age! He can speak for himself.” 22 His parents said this because they were afraid of the Temple leaders. For the authorities had already agreed that anyone who confessed Jesus to be Messiah would be cast out of the synagogue. 23 That’s why his parents said, “He is of age; ask him!”
24 So for the second time they brought before them the man who had been blind and confronted him: “Give glory to God! We know that this Jesus is a sinner.” 25 The man answered, “I do not know whether he is a sinner. One thing I do know – though I was blind, now I see.” 26 Again they asked, “What did he do? How did he open your eyes?” 27 He said, “I’ve told you already, yet you would not listen? Why do you want to hear all this again? Do you too want to become his disciples?” 28 Then the leaders reviled him. “You are his disciple, but we are disciples of Moses! 29 We know God spoke to Moses. As for this man, we don’t even know where he comes from!” 30 The man replied, “That is astonishing! You don’t know where he comes from, yet he opened my eyes. 31 We know God does not listen to sinners, but he does listen to anyone who worships him and obeys his will. 32 Never since the world began has it been reported that anyone opened the eyes of a person born blind. 33 If this man were not from God, he could do nothing!” 34 The leaders railed at him, “You were born entirely in sin, yet you try to teach us?” Then they drove him out of the synagogue. 35 Jesus heard they had driven him out. When he found the man he asked, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?” 36 He said, “Sir, who is he? Tell me, so I may believe in him.” 37 Jesus said, “You have seen him, and the one speaking with you now is HE.” 38 The man said, “Lord, I believe!” He fell to his knees and worshiped Jesus.
Sermon Monologue: “Man Born Blind”
All of my life my eyes have been useless to me. I can hear, feel, smell and taste. But it makes little difference whether my eyelids are open or shut. When the wind blows and there is dust in the air I close my eyes, of course. But, otherwise, I just sit … eyelids open, unseeing … and I beg. I beg for food and for money. And I listen …
People often cluck at me like sympathetic hens, as they reach down to press a coin into my hand. That’s not so bad. What’s worse is when I hear them say things like … “His father or mother must have sinned terribly, for him to be born blind like this!” My father and mother did as well for me as they could! Far worse is when thoughtless people make the ridiculous claim, “In his mother’s womb, this man must have angered God terribly, and brought this curse upon himself!” I am no Torah scholar, no scribe. But, even I know how foolish a thing it is to say that an unborn child can anger God like that!
Right now, people are whispering to each other, “Here comes Jesus the Galilean carpenter. Some say he might be Messiah! Others, that he is a child of the devil!” I am less interested in what these busy-bodies say to each other. What I want to know is – will Jesus even notice me? Now I can hear Jesus and his followers approaching. The scrape of their sandals against the stones. The thump of their walking sticks. Oh, right! Now I hear his disciples asking their Master all the usual drivel: “Who sinned, to make this man be cursed with blindness at birth?”
But, to my surprise, Jesus cuts that conversation short. “No one sinned!” (He even sounds a bit angry.) “We are with him, today, so that in and through this man God’s glory may be revealed! So that the Father’s goodness and kindness may be uncovered and opened-up for all to see!”
At first I sort of laughed, as I heard this Jesus squat down onto the ground in front of me, and begin scraping it with his fingers. See God the Father’s glory? See his goodness and kindness? That’ll be the day! Since I have never seen anything from the day I was born! Now Jesus is spitting. Into what, I don’t know. Hey! Uh … hey! What …?! This Galilean rabbi, without a by-your-leave, is putting mud on my eyes. So, that’s what he was making. He scraped-up dirt with his fingers, spit into it and made a mud paste. I hoped he’d at least notice me, maybe give me a coin or two. But, this kind of attention I didn’t expect, even after hearing what he said about me. Now, Jesus is telling me: Go to the pool of Siloam and wash my face. Good advice, Jesus … since you just stuck mud in my eye! I’m trying not to be angry and rude as I stumble my way over to the Siloam pool. Thankfully it’s not far, and I can smell the water. ----- pause ----
My world just exploded! My eyes and head hurt. And I cannot make sense of the things I am now seeing … for the very first time in my life. I’m really unsteady on my feet. And people are grabbing at me, asking, “Aren’t you the one who was blind from birth? Didn’t you used to sit over there and beg?” Yes – yes – I tell them. Stop clawing at me! “How can you now see?” they ask me, over and over? Only moments ago I regained my sight, and these busy-bodies pester me with “How?” So, I tell them about Jesus, what he did, and what happened. And, just as I wander off to try to find the carpenter-preacher-healer the people grab at me, again, and insist that I must first go see the Temple Pharisees … the Sadducees … the Council …
Now, here I am in front of the Council. Thank God it’s not so bright in here! My eyes aren’t used to seeing yet! Without hardly stopping to let me answer, tho’, these so-called spiritual men grill me about how it is that I have regained my sight. How was this curse lifted? What did Jesus say and do? I tell them the story over and over, but I can tell they hardly know how to use their own ears and other senses. They obviously have it *in* for this Jesus’ fellow. Why would that be? He opened my eyes after all! Their main complaint appears to be that today is Sabbath. And making mud out of spit is classified as “work” under our Jewish law. So work is forbidden on the Sabbath? But it was only a little bit of mud! You legal experts use more spit and make more paste just eating a piece of bread … which is hardly forbidden on the Sabbath … is it? The Council cannot agree among themselves as to whether Jesus is a good man or not. So they ask me! All I can say is, “He is a prophet from God.” They don’t like my answer. So they call for my parents to be brought before them.
Here is mum; here is papa! All my life I’ve longed to see them. They have tears in their eyes. (I cannot help but look at everyone’s eyes!) Mum wants to embrace me, but the Temple guards hold her back. Now they are grilling my parents, just like they put me on trial, over the good deeds of the man from Galilee. What a sham and a shame! This good Jesus did a good deed, so now we are all on trial! Mum and pop are scared. They finally say, “Ask our son about all of this; he is old enough.” I don’t blame my folks. The talk has been for days: Any person who supports this Jesus will be thrown out of synagogue!
The Temple guards had shoved me to the back. Now, as my parents flee, they bring me forward again and give me an ultimatum: “Glorify God!” they snarl at me. “Condemn this Jesus, who we know is outside God’s law … a terrible sinner!” This is too much for me; I retort, “Whether he is a sinner or not only God knows. This much I do know: I was blind; now I see.” Then they erupt with anger; they ask me again, “How did he do it?” I can no longer take this nonsense. “If Jesus was not from God, he could do nothing. He could not have opened my eyes! Can you not see that? Do you, also, want to be his disciples?” I knew what affect my sarcasm would have. They growled back at me, like rapid dogs, each barking over the other: “You were born in sin!” “How dare you talk to us like that?” “You are that man’s disciple!” “We are followers of Moses!” Then they literally throw me out into the bright sunlight, and command the word be spread that I am dead to the synagogue. That I am no longer even a Jew.
Despite all this, now my feet feel light. My head is clear. I am no longer in pain. I wander the streets, until I need to sit for a moment. Then, Jesus himself comes up to me. Again, I notice his eyes – they are crinkled with compassion and concern. (I wonder how I know this, having never studied faces.) He asks me, “How did it go?” But, he asks like he already knows. Then he says, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?” I say, “Please tell me who HE is, sir, so I may believe.” Now, Jesus smiles. His voice is tender, but his eyes look lively and bright. “You’ve already met him. The one speaking with you now is HE!” Something comes over me. I don’t even know how it’s happening. But now I’m on my knees. I bow my face to the ground … to worship Jesus. But, he reaches down, grabs my shoulders, lifts me up, and embraces me. Then, without a word, he turns and starts off. I hesitate … just for a moment. Then I, too, begin to walk … I follow Jesus. Amen.