Sixth Sunday of Easter – Sermon 226

8th January 2016 0 By Derek Buckthorpe

6th Sunday of Easter

10am Holy Communion

5th May 2013

Bible References :

  • Add Text Link Here
  • Add Text Link Here
  • Add Text Link Here

Prayer to start

May the words of my lips and the thoughts of our hearts be graciously received for the Glory and Honour of our Lord Jesus Christ

 

AMEN

 

INTRODUCTION

 

Point 1        Lame man by the pool

 

It was morning – and another day by the pool

 

A Sabbath day – the poolside gets crowded on a Sabbath day – people come to Jerusalem – from all around – to be cured – or just to stop by on their way to the Synagogue –

 

Thirty eight years he’s been here – begging – watching – waiting for his chance to get in first –

From time to time – the waters in the pool would bubble up – no one knows why – some believe its caused by an Angel – but every time it happens – the first person in would be cured – at least that’s what they’ve told him – and that’s what he believes

 

That’s why he’s here and what he’s been waiting for – to be first in the pool

But he’s been here a long time –and now it’s become a way of life – waiting by the pool – some say he’ll likely stay there until he dies –

 

Maybe its not so bad – at least people give him food and water – and there’s some shelter from the heat – the stench can be strong at times – but at least there are people to talk to –

 

Things could be much worst for someone in his condition –

 

He laid back in the sun – expecting it to be another day – of watching – waiting – surviving –

 

Then the stranger appeared – looming over him –

he sat up – stretched out his hands – expecting money or food – but the stranger didn’t seem to have anything to give – he laid back down again –

 

Do you want to be made well? – said the man –

 

What a stupid question! – wasn’t it obvious – what did the stranger think – that he liked being here?

 

“Sir, I have no one to put me in the pool when the water is stirred up – and while I’m making my way – someone else steps down ahead of me.”

 

“Then stand-up – take your mat – and walk”- came the reply –

 

It probably never occurred to the lame man – that this stranger could actually heal him – why should it?

 

The only way he thought he could be cured was by getting in the pool – which he had no hope of doing –

 

But he looked at Jesus – and decided to try –

 

He must have been aware that something was happening in his legs –

 

He took up his mat – and began to walk –

 

Jesus usually heals in response to someone’s faith – but on this occasion – no faith was expressed

 

The lame man took a risk – and obeyed Jesus – and that was enough –  God’s grace did the rest – and he was now on a much harder – but more satisfying path – one – as John records later – that would see him telling the authorities about his experiences – on his way to the Synagogue to give thanks –

 

Many that came to the pool in Beth-zatha were non-Jews – Jesus had done what the pagan gods couldn’t do –  and healed someone

 

The man Jesus found lying there had clearly made a way of life out of his long wait for healing – he was in a rut and couldn’t get out!

 

But Jesus transformed his life – gave him a new start – a new beginning – on which he could reshape his future –

 

Point 2        Acts – The conversion of Lydia

 

Our reading from Acts gives us another example of how Jesus can reshape our future – this time through other people

 

Paul receives a vision from God – of a man from Macedonia pleading with him to come and help –

 

Earlier Paul had tried to enter Asia and then

Bit-hyma – and failed –  Paul had been told not to preach in these places –

 

But as one door closes – a new door opens – and this vision was a clear message that Europe was to be converted through Macedonia –

 

Paul and his party made their way to Philippi – where he found all sorts of dark powers at work –

 

Paul’s normal course of action was to head for a Synagogue – after all you couldn’t just walk into the main street of a major city and start preaching –

 

But in Phillippi – there were no Synagogues –

So instead – they sought out places of prayer – and found themselves at one site – outside of town – by a river – where they met some women – who were talking –

 

One of them – was called Lydia – a business woman – skilled in the use of dyes and fabrics –

 

Its likely she would have been wealthy – as she was a dealer in purple linen – which would have been used by the Senate of the Roman Empire –

 

Luke describes the story of her conversion – very simply –

 

‘The Lord opened her heart to listen eagerly to what was being said by Paul’ –

 

Here was someone who had been praying – seeking God – opening to the possibility of God seeking them – And when Paul’s words about Jesus – tapped on her window – she opened it –

 

She and her household were baptized – and she invited them to stay and use her home as a base for their ministry –

 

And Lydia became an example of hospitality –

which became a tradition and a hallmark of the Phillippian Church –

 

Lydia’s example shows us that it’s God who prepares and turns hearts – not us – we just have to tap on their window – and encourage them to open themselves to Jesus –

 

We can learn too from Paul’s experience – he had a thoughtful plan of action – but was willing to change it without question – when told to go somewhere else –

 

Its God who should lead us – in our plans – we have to trust Him and obey Him immediately – and follow where He leads –

 

Point 3        Jesus and us

 

Life rarely goes smoothly – for any of us – our hopes sometimes dashed – our plans sometimes thwarted –

 

There are many ways that we can feel ensnared – illness like the lame man – loneliness – over-commitment – debt – having no job or work –

 

But through it all Jesus offers anyone and everyone – willing to obey and turn to Him – a fresh start – new opportunities to explore – and to rebuild our lives –

 

Just as the Father raises the dead and gives life – so also the Son gives life to whom He wishes –

 

Jesus is the one that can bring Joy where there is sorrow – hope where there is despair – Love where there is hatred – Peace where there is division

 

He can take us out of the darkness that sometimes engulfs us – and bring us into the light of His presence – and His future –

‘For those who accept the mercy and grace of Jesus – there will be no ore night’

God opens and changes hearts and lives –

 

And calls us to help – by showing others what it means to be part of His Kingdom – by telling others of Jesus – and how His love and support can bring about a new beginning in their lives –

 

ending

 

Today on this Sabbath day – Jesus has the power and love – to heal those things that Paralyze us!

 

Do we want to be made well?

 

But what must we do? – we might say

 

Obey and Respond to Jesus’ commands? – accept His mercy and grace  – and let Him lead us to paradise –

 

Prayer:

 

In the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit,

 

– AMEN