/Sixth Sunday of Easter / May 9, 2010 / Mother’s Day / Resurrection Lutheran Church

Text:  John 5: 1 – 9  /  Message by: Rev. Carol Kniseley  /  Title:  Mother Knows Best

            When I was growing up…I often saw reruns of what had been a very popular show on TV called Father Knows Best (starring actor Robert Young).    In honor of all mothers here today, I would like to put a little different spin on things…beginning with this message.   It is entitled:  Mother Knows Best...and here’s why.    Mothers, of all people, know how best to read their children.   Tell me if I’m wrong, Moms, but even now I shutter whenever I get a phone call from my mother.   BECAUSE…I know…that invariably she will somehow work into our conversation the all encompassing question that mothers love to ask:  “…so tell me…how are you really doing?”    To which no matter what I reply…she is somehow able to “read me” like a book.     I have to admit, mother still knows best…much of the time.    But Dads…now that’s a different story.

        I mention this not just because it happens to be “Mother’s Day” but because in today’s Gospel lesson it appears that Jesus displays some of those same “mothering-type” of instincts.    We find him acting like a mother hen as “she gathers her chicks around her”…in hopes of being able to “read” the signs.   Where we find Jesus doing this is at “a pool” known as Bethesda, located not far from the Temple in Jerusalem.    Apparently, he is there doing something we all like to do:  “people watching” as hundreds are being gathered together around this particular pool for just one purpose:  to be made wellcompletely curedrid of whatever illness…disease…deformity that has so completely defined their lives.      

        Rumor had it that on occasion an angel would come down from heaven and dip their toes or fingers into the pool…causing it to be “stirred”.    The first person to then descend into the water…would be cured…or so they say.     John tells us that for whatever reason, there is one person in particular that attracted Jesus’ attention on that day.     We don’t know his name…we don’t even know his age…in fact we aren’t told much of anything about him other than the fact that he has been suffering from some form of paralysis for at least thirty eight years.     And yet it appears that as Jesus’ motherly intuition began to kick in, there was more to this man’s story than what could be read on the surface.

        If the man wasn’t suffering from some form of depression by now, that in itself would have been a miracle.    And I say that simply because of the type of question being put to him by Jesus.   It is a penetrating question at best…one that perhaps, Jesus felt would cut right to the heart of his being there in the first place.   To the man by the pool he asked:

        “Do you want to be made well?” 

If we think the answer is obvious…we need to think again.   It isn’t.    Being made well…has it’s own implications particularly when the “need” is so long-standing that an entire way of life has been built up around it.    Like this man by the pool, we all know people who lie emotionally and relationally paralyzed.     We may even be referring to ourselves, if we are being completely transparent with each other.   

And because of my own “motherly” instincts of which I am sure I inherited from my mother in Tennessee, I am going to go out on a limb and state what I surmise to be an absolute true statement.    There is not a single person here who isn’t “in need” of being made well.     Physically…mentally…emotionally…spiritually…the question remains the same:

        “Do you want to be made well?”

If we consider the man by the pool, his coming to terms with his paralysis has meant being dependant on the generosity and compassion of others.     Something that I know many of us are very uncomfortable acknowledging within our own lives.   Many who passed by him often times leave a coin or two…affording him an income to some degree.     One which he may have grown accustomed to over these many years…leaving him blind to the choices that now stand before him.   

        The man’s reply to Jesus is a pretty good indicator as to where he now stands.    He is locked up inside of his own need and thinking of a cure by the most popular means.     In other words, he is completely turned in on himself.  His “condition”, if you will, has led him down a path of self absorption…with apparently no room for the author of life.    John’s Gospel would indicate to us that the man had not one clue as to who this Jesus was…or what his question was really all about.   Which makes what happens next all the more amazing…when it comes to sheer acts of grace.

        Whether he had had enough…or it was simply time for him to leave, Jesus decides to end the encounter with one simple command:

        “Stand up!  Take your mat…and walk.”

To which John records in verse nine:  “At once the man was cured;  he picked up his mat and walked away.”   

Did I mention that all of this took place on the Sabbath?      If we in the church think that the Sabbath is reserved only for resting…we do need to rethink that one again.     By healing on the Sabbath, Jesus reminds us that God is at work in the world…24 / 7…and guess what…so is He.    He is the one who continues to make his presence known in the midst of our day to day struggles with life…and enables us to persevere in times of “long-standing need”.    Meaning, the cure that we all long for may not be the one that we receive.   But rest assured, based on Jesus’ “motherly intuition”…it will most certainly be the one that we need.     Amen