Reflections: Valentine, Martyr

Daily Lectionary: Job 10:1-22; John 5:1-18

Afterward Jesus found him in the temple and said to him, “See, you are well! Sin no more, that nothing worse may happen to you.” (John 5:14)

In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. See, you are well! Sin no more, that nothing worse may happen to you. It almost sounds like a threat. The man laid there paralyzed for 38 years with nobody to help him into the pool. Jesus walked up and took care of the whole thing with a few words. That’s a long time to suffer when the cure is so easy. You’d think God might hurry it up a little. Better late than never, I guess. But when they meet later in the temple and Jesus only warns him to behave or else, even the mercy shown leaves a bad aftertaste due to the hanging implication of what might happen if he sins again. When he sins again. St. Valentine got his head cut off and I’m still more comfortable with that story than this one. Woe to those who think they preach better than Jesus, who would diminish His words or warning. The command to sin no more must not be ignored. 

The man sinned again. He has the same condition we all do. Something worse will happen to him after this story. He’s going to die. It’s the last great enemy. The wages of sin is death. Sin breaks stuff, so don’t lean into sin. Sin no more. Woe to anyone who would say otherwise. 

But also, woe to those who ignore the promise connected to Jesus’ words. Rise. Take up your bed, and walk. When God speaks, something happens. When He tells you to pick up your bed and walk, you can. When He forgives you your sins through your pastor, they’re gone. When He calls you to the resurrection, you rise. So when Jesus healed a man by calling him to rise, there’s more than just physical healing going on. 

The man died, but was called into the resurrection by the same Jesus who told him to get up the first time. The same Jesus who went into the grave because, even though He was completely serious when He warned us to sin no more, He also knew we would. He gives us a Law we cannot fulfill. So He fulfills it for us, dies for us, and calls us to life with the very same Word that gave this man the ability to go home. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen.

Thy work alone, O Christ, Can ease this weight of sin; Thy blood alone, O Lamb of God, Can give me peace within. (“Not What These Hands Have Done” LSB 567, st.3)

-Rev. Harrison Goodman is content executive for Higher Things.

Audio Reflections Speaker: Rev. Duane Bamsch

Discover new insights from each line of the Psalms in Engaging the Psalms: A Guide for Reflection and Prayer. Read, repeat, and return to the Lord as you walk through all 150 Psalms. Now available from Concordia Publishing House.