Audio will be here.
Sixth Sunday in Easter — May 26, 2019 – John 5:1-18
The sermon series that begins today is titled “The Visible Christian: Revealing Jesus to an Unbelieving World.” It begins with today’s text for this reason: Christians today can be a more potent, more powerful witness to the world to our foundational belief in the presence of God in the midst of the word today when we cease to fear what God is doing in our midst, when we trust that God is with us in the midst of sometimes terrifying change, and when our witness to the world is a witness that attests to God’s power manifest in God’s mercy, God’s grace, and God’s love, and when that love is manifest in not only our relationships with one another, but in our proclamation to the world.
Before I read today’s text, I need to make something clear: one of the facets of John’s gospel is that he uses the term “the Jews” to describe the religious leaders who are in opposition to Jesus’ ministry on earth. John does not mean this as a blanket term for all Jewish people, in his day or ours. Jesus was Jewish. The man who he heals in today’s reading is Jewish. As such, today’s text is a critique of religious leadership, not a critique of Judaism.
I like to think of myself as a man who is somewhat unafraid of change, but years ago, just before Christmas, a man who was the relative of fifteen of the members of the church I was serving at the time died and was to be buried in Big Stone Gap, Virginia. When I learned the date and time of his funeral, I decided to go. I charted my course: route 460 west to Troutville, just outside of Roanoke. From there it was 81-south to Abingdon where I would turn north, and head to the little, snow-covered coal-mining town nestled in the mountains.