Searching for the one (02-07-21)
After this there was a festival of the Jews, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. Now in Jerusalem by the Sheep Gate there is a pool, called in Hebrew Bethesda, which has five porticoes. In these lay many invalids—blind, lame, and paralyzed. One man was there who had been ill for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him lying there and knew that he had been there a long time, he said to him, “Do you want to be made well?” The sick man answered him, “Sir, I have no one to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up; and while I am making my way, someone else steps down ahead of me.” Jesus said to him, “Stand up, take your mat and walk.” At once the man was made well, and he took up his mat and began to walk.
(John 5. 1 – 9)
A large crowd followed Jesus and pressed in on him. Now there was a woman who had been suffering from haemorrhages for twelve years. She had endured much under many physicians and had spent all that she had; and she was no better, but rather grew worse. She had heard about Jesus, and came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak, for she said, “If I but touch his clothes, I will be made well.” Immediately her haemorrhage stopped; and she felt in her body that she was healed of her disease. (Mark 5. 24 – 29)
A Thought I am basically an extrovert, a people person, and a bit of a chatter box. It’s how I tick and what brings me enjoyment and vitality. I thrive in company and love talking to people, whether I know them or not. I’ll happily get into conversation with the person next to me on an aeroplane or in the supermarket queue. While we were on holiday in Norfolk with the grandchildren, it was the family sitting on the next rug on the beach, who had children a similar age to Melody and Zachary. There were plenty of other families on the beach, but this was the only one with whom we had an extended conversation throughout the day.
It reminded me of the ministry of Jesus. Despite often being surrounded by crowds, Jesus always had time for ‘the one’. He seemed to have a particular skill for it. It was in the midst of a crowd that Jesus spotted Zacchaeus up a tree and invited himself to his house for tea.
At the Pool of Bethesda, there were plenty of sick people gathered. Most came there every day and were long-term sick, hoping to be restored to health. However, Jesus picked out only one, a man who had been ill for thirty-eight years, perhaps much of his life to date. Nor did Jesus initiate a particularly comfortable conversation, challenging the man about whether he really wanted to be healed or not. Sickness can define people and become a part of their identity, but healing this man would break with that and transform his life in the future.
Similarly with the woman who touched the hem of Jesus’ cloak. Jesus knew something had happened and he made time for this woman, despite the fact that he was actually hurrying through the crowd to go to the aid of another individual, the daughter of Jairus, who had already been given up for dead by her family. The woman, who had been ill for twelve years, had reached a point of desperation. She was not disappointed. Jesus commended her for her faith and she found freedom and peace. Then Jesus continued on his way to bring healing to one beloved little girl.
When it comes to mission and church growth, we can get caught up in the desire for big numbers, but these passages are a reminder that Jesus often sought out ‘one’ in the crowd. Let us remain observant and prayerful, watching for the individuals whom Jesus brings across our path.
A Prayer Lord Jesus, give us eyes to see the individuals around us, who are searching for something more in life. Amen.