Prayer from Ephesians 3
Insert someone’s name to offer a prayer of blessing for him/her.
Father, out of Your honorable and glorious riches, strengthen ___________. Fill ___________’s soul with the power of Your Spirit so that through faith the Anointed One will reside in his/her heart. May love be the rich soil where ________’s life takes root. May it be the bedrock where ___________’s life is founded, so that together with all of Your people, he/she will have the power to understand that the love of the Anointed is infinitely long, wide, high, and deep, surpassing everything anyone previously experienced. God may Your fullness flood through __________’s entire being. Now to the God who can do so many awe-inspiring things, immeasurable things, things greater than we ever could ask or imagine through the power at work in us, to Him be all glory in the church and in Jesus the Anointed from this generation to the next, forever and ever. Amen.
Israel Trip- The Church of Saint Anne
- a Roman Catholic Church, located in the Muslim Quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem
- A 45-minute walk from this location to the temple mount
- Saint Anne’s marks the traditional childhood home of Mary the mother of Jesus. It is dedicated to her parents, Anna and Joachim.
- Crusader era church, built around 1140
- you notice the coolness, plain stone, elegant simplicity, timelessness
- Church has extraordinary acoustics. The notes hang in the air for at least 5 seconds. It flows. It ripples. It feels like you are being washed in the sound. We sang O Come, O Come Emmanuel; Holy Holy Holy; and Amazing Grace.
Next to the church is the ruin of the pool of Bethesda, also know as Bethzatha and Bethsaida.
- Literally means “House of Mercy”
- This is the location mentioned in John 5, Jesus healing a man who’d been waiting there for 38 years.
- On our trip, we read this story along with James 5 and offered each other prayers for healing. A profound worship experience, praying for healing in a place of healing.
Prayers for Healing
- I long for healing. Of all the prayers I pray, I pray for healing the most.
- Watching over persons in need. This list is long, constantly changing and flowing.
- Times I am overwhelmed by the need. Needs within the congregation, community, nation, and world.
- When Jesus walks into the area around the pools of Bethesda, it is overflowing with people in great need. They have come in hope of healing.
- We come into the presence of God, trusting God in Jesus is our Savior forever.
Where we are in the story
- In John 2 and 3, Jesus is in Jerusalem. He preaches on the teaching steps and turns over the tables of the money changers in the temple, getting the attention of the Jewish leadership (Pharisees, Sadducees, Sanhedrin). He speaks with Nicodemus at night.
- He heads back home to Galilee through Samaria, where he has the conversation with the woman at the well.
- He makes it to Galilee to the city of Capernaum, his home base, where he heals some people.
- Then it’s time for another Jewish festival so he’s back in Jerusalem.
Read John 5:1-9
He’s been waiting for 38 years
- Two generations, a lifetime in the ancient world
- Did family bring him and leave him? Did he come himself?
- He’s lost everything. He has nothing. “Sir, I have no one…”
- He has an unknown condition – it’s the Greek word for weakness (body, soul, mind, etc.). Don’t we all have weakness?
Jesus asks, “Do you want to be well?”
He answers, “As soon as the water bubbles then I will get up off my mat. As soon as I get some help into the water my problems will be fixed.”
The pool was thought to be magical, miraculous. The water would bubble and someone would be healed.
How many of us are stuck in as soon as … As soon as ______________ happens life will be better. I’ll be happy. My problems will go away. I’ll be satisfied. All will be well.
This pool is a symbol of the strong attraction of As Soon As. We can drown in it. We can sit a lifetime beside it.
- Children often say, “As soon as I’m big enough”
- Teens- “As soon as I graduate from high school”
- As soon as I get a job… I make enough money
- As soon as I get married or get divorced
- As soon as I have children or the children are grown
- Lose 10 pounds
- Get sober
- Get over my grief
- As soon as he/she apologizes or gets their act together and does right by me
As soon as is an illusion, a false promise, even a false God. We think it that this circumstantial change will be the magic bullet, the quick fix that we are longing for. It causes us to live stagnant lives.
Jesus offers us living water, a spring of life gushing up and overflowing to eternal life.
Stagnant water is not alive. Nothing can live in it. It smells. It’s where things go to die.
We stay stuck. We push the pause button on life. We put life on hold. It is self-imprisonment.
The imprisonment is so great that when Jesus asks, “Do you want to be made well?” We can’t even think about saying say, “Yes.” We just start in with the as soon as…
Bethesda/Bethzatha/Bethsaida means House of Mercy, but it is actually a house of despair, a house of lies and falsehood
- the pool was an Asclepieion
- a place where healing was supposed to take place by the power of Asclepius, the Greek god of healing.
- The medical symbol with the snakes is connected to Asclepius.
- Asclepius was called “savior” by his followers just like some call as soon as “savior”
The scene in a new context:
It is the time of a Jewish festival, so Jesus who is very Jewish, goes to Jerusalem. On the Jewish Sabbath, this Jewish Rabbi (and Messiah) goes to a local landmark dedicated to the Greek god of healing. He walks up to the person with the least chance of getting better (38 years!) and proceeds to heal the man, right there in the middle of the building
Jesus is the Savior. The Healer. Jesus brings salvation.
Salvation does not mean healed it means whole. There’s a big difference.
You can have brokenness is your body, your family, your job, your mind, your heart, and still be whole. Paul had a thorn in the flesh that he went to heaven with and he was whole.
Jesus was broken and tortured, a victim of oppression injustice and corruption and Jesus was whole. In fact, in heaven, Jesus still has his scars as a testimony to the power of God in the midst of his brokenness. He wasn’t Savior as soon as he was resurrected. He was Savior in the midst of it.
We aren’t whole just when we go home to heaven. We are whole now because of Jesus. Salvation means wholeness.
I’m not suggesting that the circumstances of our lives are irrelevant or aren’t real or aren’t important. They are. We may be limited in some ways, but we are not limited in every way. We are more than our circumstances. Salvation means wholeness- not perfection or even healing.
Jesus is the true Savior- Not a change of circumstance, not your ability, not who you know.
Nick Vujicic (VU-Yee-Chek) an Australian man who was born with no arms and no legs, who after a deep bout with depression, decided that he didn’t want his life to be defined by his weakness or limitation, but instead he wanted his life to be defined by his worth as a child of God gifted and called to bring light and hope to others.
Nick has traveled around the world, sharing his story with millions, sometimes in stadiums filled to capacity, speaking to a range of diverse groups such as students, teachers, young people, business professionals and church congregations of all sizes. Today this dynamic young evangelist has accomplished more than most people achieve in a lifetime. He’s an author, musician, actor, husband, and father of 4. He has gone skydiving, surfing, and his hobbies include fishing, painting, and swimming.
Nick is whole and you can be, too.
When Jesus asks, “Do you want to be well?” What will you say? Will you say, “yes?”
Jesus’ invitation to us is to live into the fullness of God. Power made perfect in weakness. Infinite power. Infinite grace. Infinite mercy. Infinite love. There’s always more- more to ask for, more to discover, more to receive, more to grow into, more to become, because that more is beyond our circumstance. It is in the midst of the circumstance.
I pray you are filled with the fullness of God. I pray that you will leave behind the chains of as soon as. Freed from the shackles. That you will not be stuck waiting and trusting a false understanding, false fix, a false god to save you- the false never will. Say yes to the One True Living God.
I pray you will have the power to understand that the love of the Anointed is infinitely long, wide, high, and deep, surpassing everything anyone previously experienced. May the fullness of God flood through your entire being.
Man at the Pool Sermon © 2019 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
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