The One Who Keeps Seeking Us Out

Lingering a little longer in the healing by the pool story, we witness Jesus seeking out the healed man a second time. This time it is in the temple. Imagine that, God seeking us out in our places of worship, in our moments of inhabiting the Sabbath stop.

Jesus speaks some curious words to the man found in the temple. At first hearing, the words might sound jarring or abrupt. Notice how you hear these words each time. What do you notice? What are you feeling? You are invited to make room to stop and listen. The One who seeks us out, might have something more to say.

John 5:9-15 (NLT)
Instantly, the man was healed! He rolled up his sleeping mat and began walking! But this miracle happened on the Sabbath, 10 so the Jewish leaders objected. They said to the man who was cured, “You can’t work on the Sabbath! The law doesn’t allow you to carry that sleeping mat!”
11 But he replied, “The man who healed me told me, ‘Pick up your mat and walk.’”
12 “Who said such a thing as that?” they demanded.
13 The man didn’t know, for Jesus had disappeared into the crowd. 14 But afterward Jesus found him in the Temple and told him, “Now you are well; so stop sinning, or something even worse may happen to you.” 15 Then the man went and told the Jewish leaders that it was Jesus who had healed him.

For Reflection and Prayer:
Was there a word, phrase or image which caught your attention you as you listened to or slowly read the text? Quietly reflect on it in your prayer with Jesus. Journal your conversation.

Was there any particular emotion which emerged as you listened to the scripture? Talk it over with Jesus in your prayer.

Where have you noticed Jesus inviting you or giving you permission to stop and share sacred time with him?

Savor any consoling words or pictures as you quietly rest in God.


Awaken from deep rest: Jesus brings quiet stillness to the storm around him. How is it that he could be undisturbed by the raging storm? He invites us to live in that place of shalom with him. Yet how do we arrive there? What habits and rhythms help us be still and quiet with God? Spiritual disciplines such as prayer, silence, solitude, Sabbath and practicing living in the presence of God over time can be deeply transformative. A spiritual companion or director may aid us in growing in these practices. Often it is our fears which keep us running from the quiet and still place in our heart. We are afraid of what we might feel or hear. Like a tender, safe parent, God longs to draw us close and heal our fears so that we can dwell with God in a place of shalom - peaceful, contented, whole and well - both inwardly and outwardly.

Can you hear your Abba, gently drawing you close and whispering tender, comforting words into your soul? shhh...shhh...shhh...lean in to listen...

Mark 4:35-41 NIV
That day when evening came, he said to his disciples, “Let us go over to the other side.” 36 Leaving the crowd behind, they took him along, just as he was, in the boat. There were also other boats with him. 37 A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped. 38 Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him and said to him, “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?”
39 He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!” Then the wind died down and it was completely calm.
40 He said to his disciples, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?”
41 They were terrified and asked each other, “Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!”

For Reflection and Prayer:
Was there a word, phrase, or image which shimmered for you as you listened to the passage? Have a conversation with Jesus about what stirred in you.
Place yourself in the story. How is it intersecting with your life right now?
What helps you arrive at or return to an inward, quiet, still place with Jesus?

A Healing and Life-Giving Presence

When we find ourselves in the midst of conflict and angry tension, how we respond can make a difference. This may well be an opportunity to be a healing and life-giving presence. Though grieved and angry himself, in this story Jesus remains true to his life-purpose, being a healer and a life-giver.

Consider how you might become more like Jesus in your response to life circumstances. Spend time with him, watch him closely, talk with him. Let your prayer be one that brings you closer to becoming "as Christ" here and now. 

     What the resurrection of Jesus promises is that things can always be new again. It's never too late to start over. Nothing is irrevocable. No betrayal is final. No sin is unforgivable. Every form of death can be overcome. There isn't any loss that can't be redeemed. Every day is virgin. There is really no such thing as old age.
     As John Shea once so aptly put it: What the resurrection teaches us is not how to live--but how to live again, and again, and again!
--Ronald Rolheiser

Mark 3:1-6 NKJV

Healing on the Sabbath
And he entered the synagogue again, and a man was there who had a withered hand. So they watched Him closely, whether He would heal him on the Sabbath, so that they might accuse Him. And He said to the man who had the withered hand, "Step forward." Then He said to them, "Is it lawful on the Sabbath to do good or to do evil, to save life or to kill? But they kept silent. And when He had looked around at them with anger, being grieved by the hardness of their hearts, He said to the man, "Stretch out your hand." And he stretched it out, and his hand was restored as whole as the other. Then the Pharisees when out and immediately plotted with the Herodians against Him, how they might destroy Him.

For Prayer and Reflection:
What did you hear or feel as you listened/read?  A word? a phrase? A sensation?

Jesus had just told the Pharisees that, "The Sabbath was made for man, not for the Sabbath." How is this revealed in this passage?

Jesus came to do good and to save life. What might you bring to Him to be restored and made whole?

Creating Space to See the Holy

One eats in holiness and the table becomes an altar.
Martin Buber, Israeli (1878-1965)

Jesus came to fulfill the law, not to abolish it. Rules about Sabbath and what one could do and not do, identified in minute detail, filled the Pharisee's minds and ways of being. What might we be invited to consider in the following words about the intention of the law?  What is Jesus fulfilling instead of abolishing?

Sabbath rest is more than setting aside time and space for intentional nourishment and feeding of the soul. It certainly does include this, because this kind of space and time shifts our attention from our own self-referenced efforts and work towards God, which fosters greater gratitude and thankfulness within us. The intention of Sabbath, stopping to let go for rest and renewal in God, changes us. We begin to see that all of life is holy space filled with God's presence and provision.

Consider "walking through the fields" with Jesus as a way of growing in deeper trust and joyful freedom. Imagine yourself in the following story as you read it.  Where are you?

Mark 2:23-28 NRSV
One Sabbath he was going through the grainfields; and as they made their way his disciples began to pluck heads of grain. The Pharisees said to him, "Look, why are they doing what is not lawful on the Sabbath? And he said to them, "Have you never read what David did when he and his companions were hungry and in need of food? He entered the house of God, when Abiathar was high priest, and ate the bread of the Presence, which it is not lawful for any but the priests to eat, and he gave some to his companions." Then he said to them, "The Sabbath was made for humankind, and not humankind for the Sabbath; so the Son of Man is lord even of the Sabbath."

For Reflection and Prayer:
What did you hear as you listened/read?
Was there a word or phrase that stood out to you? Write about what you heard.
If you choose, refer to 1 Samuel 21:1-7 for David's story.
What is Jesus teaching about Sabbath in these words?
How is it you come into Sabbath? What is the intention of Sabbath for you?
What distracts you from experiencing Sabbath?

When Sabbath Comes

The ancient Hebrews prepared for and observed the Sabbath every week of their lives. Sabbath began at sundown on Friday evening and the entire day was spent preparing the home and the food for this shared gathering of remembrance and blessing. The Hebrew word "Sabbath" means to stop, to cease striving. When we intentionally make space to stop in the rhythm of our lives, we receive the freedom to enter God's rest and the gift of living in greater awareness of Christ's presence within and among us. Like the man in this story, we are changed and set free in the presence of Jesus.

Many in our Wednesday night group felt hope swell up within them as they prayed with this text. Some of the comments shared where:

"I underestimate the presence and authority of Jesus"
"I want to be amazed"
"When Jesus shows up, things change, shift"
"I am enlarged through the process of waiting on God"
"Sometimes, it is not easy to see the Holy Spirit working in our lives right before us"
"I want to know who you are Jesus"

Mark 1:21-28 NIV
They went to Capernaum, and when the Sabbath came, Jesus went into the synagogue and began to teach. 22 The people were amazed at his teaching, because he taught them as one who had authority, not as the teachers of the law. 23 Just then a man in their synagogue who was possessed by an impure spirit cried out, 24 “What do you want with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are—the Holy One of God!”

25 “Be quiet!” said Jesus sternly. “Come out of him!” 26 The impure spirit shook the man violently and came out of him with a shriek.

27 The people were all so amazed that they asked each other, “What is this? A new teaching—and with authority! He even gives orders to impure spirits and they obey him.” 28 News about him spread quickly over the whole region of Galilee.

For Your Reflection and Prayer:
What did you hear or feel as you listened to the text? A word? A phrase? A sensation?

How do you experience the presence of Christ when you make Sabbath an intentional part of the rhythms of your life?

If you could ask Jesus anything about who he is so that you could know him more, what would you ask him? Could you ask him now in your prayer? What does he share with you about himself?