Like Father, Like Son

The Pool of Bethesda was a discouraging, even intimidating place. To be sure, the double pool, located north of the Temple area in Jerusalem, was attractive enough. Four covered colonnades lined the sides of the pool, and likely the fifth was in the area separating the two pools. The discouragement came from the crowd of invalids there: blind, lame, and paralyzed. There was a superstition (see v. 4 in the footnotes of contemporary translations, a verse that was almost certainly added after John wrote this Gospel), that an angel would periodically stir the water and the first person entering would be healed.

In John 5:1-18 we read that Jesus finds a man who has been incapacitated, apparently seriously paralyzed, for 38 years. He asks a question, the answer to which might seem obvious: Continue reading “Like Father, Like Son”

What Kind of Faith?

What kind of faith do you have? How good is Jesus at meeting your expectations? Does he seem to be answering your prayers right now, in the way that you expect him to? John 4:43-54 describes a faith that expects Jesus to work signs, to perform miracles, in short, to meet the expectations of his followers. Jesus had turned water into wine at the wedding at Cana. He had worked signs in Jerusalem. Now the crowd welcomed him, but as the performer of signs and wonders. I have seen people who have had little interest in following Jesus suddenly, when faced with a crisis, expect him to respond to their urgent need. (To be sure, he sometimes graciously does that, nurturing shallow faith into something deeper.) Even within the church we tend to pray, Continue reading “What Kind of Faith?”

Hear the Voice of the Risen Savior

In John 20:10-18, the Gospel of John brings home the reality of the resurrection of Jesus by showing you Mary Magdalene, and her transition from being blinded by fearful grief to coming to joyful trust and service. The chapter opens with an emphasis on darkness, echoing the opening note of John’s Gospel, that Jesus is the light that shined in darkness.

It is to this woman, whom Jesus had delivered from demon possession, that Jesus now reveals himself as the risen Lord. John inserts into the flow of her story the account of Peter and he running to the tomb, and John, as he sees the evidence of the empty tomb with the graveclothes still lying there, comes to believe that Jesus is alive. But Mary, back at the tomb and blinded by grief and her tears, Continue reading “Hear the Voice of the Risen Savior”

“Here Is Your Son. . . Here Is Your Mother”

As you focus on the suffering and death of your Savior, come with the Apostle John to where he takes you in John 19:25-27, the foot of the cross. In the midst of his pain Jesus takes time to speak to his mother and to commit her to the care of the disciple whom he loved (that is how John identifies himself in his Gospel). Jesus is concerned about his mother. He prayed for the four soldiers who nailed him to the cross. He spoke with the thief. He entrusts Mary to John. He died, not for a concept or an ideal, not for humanity in the abstract, but for each one of those the Father had given him.

There is a certain cutting of ties, an isolation in Jesus’ action. He is replacing the mother-son relationship between Mary and him with a mother-son relationship between Mary and John. In a real sense, Jesus is going to face death alone–even though Continue reading ““Here Is Your Son. . . Here Is Your Mother””