Jesus alive and active then, and NOW
After the Emmaus visit on this last day of our time together in the Holy Land, we returned to the Old City of Jerusalem. Outside the walls of the Old City life appears much the same as in many other major world cities. But in the Old City, within the ancient walls, there is a rich diversity of colour, cultures, religion and lifestyle. The four ‘quarters’ of the city (Jewish, Armenian, Muslim and Christian) provide a commercial, spiritual and residential home to people of the three great monotheistic faiths: Judaism, Islam and Christianity.
Sue read this passage for us as we sat gazing into the excavations of the pool.
Many times on this journey I have heard the scriptures with ‘new ears’. This is the ‘inspiration’ of the scripture at work. Certainly the writings of those who recorded the events of the life of Jesus were inspired by the Spirit of God. But the activity of divine inspiration is also found in the heart of the reader.
The words of the Gospel may remain unchanged on the page across the centuries. But the Word of God is not the text of a written page. THE WORD is now a living person: Jesus, who is alive and active.
We too are alive and active. With each day we are different. We grow and change. The situations and stresses of today are not the same as those I faced (or avoided) yesterday. My moods change. It is the encounter between the reality of my life today and the living reality of Jesus Christ that is the present inspiration of the scriptures.
So back to the pool of Bethesda.
The significant ‘new insight’ I received here was that the man was unable to get to the place where he believed he needed to be in order to experience the healing powers of the stirring waters. But this was no obstacle to the encounter with Jesus who came to where the man was stranded. Jesus did not even use the waters as a part of his healing of the man.
Most people carry in their heads an idea of what God needs or wants them to do or be. Most often this idea is pretty unhelpful in our relationship with God, since the evidence of the Gospel encounters is that Jesus goes to wherever those in need are. He is forever keeping the company of those known to be sinners.
Living as God calls us to live by loving God and neighbour, keeping the commandments and living in harmony with the life of the Church, is not what God asks us to do under our own steam in order to receive a reward. Instead this life is the natural fruit of the encounter with Jesus.
A love that needs to be earned, is not love at all. It is nothing more than a reward or recompense. The love of God for us is remarkable and divine since God loves us where and how we are – as weak and vulnerable sinners.
The experience of such unearned love is the high-point of human existence. Our personal ability to live in harmony with the deepest human desire (that is the fundamental yearnings of the human heart), is our instinctive response to the heart-felt knowledge and experience of the love of God for us.
So this afternoon, we spent time pondering this reality knowing that once again we are sitting where Jesus once sat and ministered. But the even greater miracle is that Jesus is alive and active today in Sockburn, Cheviot, Hornby, Burnside, Bryndwyr….