Fruit of the Spirit - Kindness & Goodness

    08.11.23 | by Jennifer Parks-Snyder

    July 16, 2023 Scripture Lesson: John 5:1–17 The Fruit of the Spirit is Kindness & Goodness by P Jenn
    As we are continuing our sermon series on the Fruit of the Spirit, ways that the Spirit of God is at work in us to be more like Christ, we come to the fruits of kindness and goodness. And there is a difference, but they make sense to be shared together because kindness is showing concern for others (loving others), while goodness is helping others who are in need (love in action). And in our lesson today, we see Jesus being kind and good to the man who was not able to walk for thirty-eight years.
    Now the story of this lesson is this man was near the pool called Bethesda, that was believed to have healing abilities. The healing came when the waters were stirred. Now they weren’t stirred by a person, they stirred naturally. Scholars believe this occurred because this pool was connected to a reservoir to collect rainwater and occasionally, the dam would be open to pour that water into this pool area developed by the Roman Empire. 1 However, the people believed the waters were stirred by angels, therefore they believed they had a healing element to them. And so, it would be a blessing to get in the waters as soon as they stirred. This was the hope the man held onto, for 38 years. Why so long? As he shares with Jesus, he couldn’t go in the waters himself, he was waiting for someone to be kind, to show concern for him, and someone to be good, that is help him into the waters. For 38 years that did not happen.
    Enter Jesus. Jesus knew the pain of the man. The pain of his impairment, and the pain of being left on his own, helpless and hopeless. So, Jesus says, “Do you want to get well?” The man replies no one will put him in the pool. But that wasn’t what Jesus was asking, and it was not what he was offering. He wasn’t offering him healing by that water, he was offering healing by him. A wholistic healing. So, Jesus says, “Get up, take your bedroll, start walking.” The text then states, The man was healed on the spot. He picked up his bedroll and walked off.
    Now what we need to pay attention to is, this man did not seek Jesus out, it was the other way around. Jesus sought him out, because no one else sought this man out. No one else would-be kind or good to him, but God will, God does in Jesus, who made His power known to a man who hadn’t even known his name.
    As the story continues, this man was healed on the Sabbath, and was told it was not lawful to carry his bedroll. In Jesus’ time, Judaism took very seriously the practice of sabbath observance. In his article titled, The Sabbath Controversy in the Gospels, author Robert L. (Bob)Deffinbaugh shared, “that the Sabbath Day is to be kept holy, and that on it no work is to be done… All kinds of things were classified as work. For instance, to carry a burden on the Sabbath Day is to work the Law says that a burden is “food equal in weight to a dried fig, enough wine for mixing in a goblet, milk enough for one swallow, honey enough to put upon a wound, ink enough to write two letters of the alphabet, reed enough to make a pen”—and so on. Deffubbaugh continues, “So they spent endless hours arguing whether a man could or could not lift a lamp from one place to another on the Sabbath, whether a tailor committed a sin if he went out with a needle in his robe, whether a woman might wear a brooch or false hair, even if a man might lift his child on the Sabbath Day.”2
    So to break the Sabbath, to do anything that could interfere with one’s attendance to God on that day, was considered sacrilegious. When this newly healed man was challenged for carrying his bedroll he states, “The man who made me well told me to. He said, ‘Take your bedroll and start walking.’”12-13 They asked, “Who gave you the order to take it up and start walking?” But the healed man didn’t know, for Jesus had slipped away into the crowd. Again, it’s important to recognize that the healed man didn’t know Jesus’ name, because this is not a lesson on faith. It was and is a lesson of kindness and goodness, of concern for a suffering man, and helping him.
    After that help, comes faith. Verse 14, 14 A little later Jesus found him in the Temple and said, “You look wonderful! You’re well! Don’t return to a sinning life or something worse might happen. “This is not a threat, it’s a statement of God’s truth, it doesn’t matter where one has been or what they have done, God wants to make their life better and keep it that way.
    Next, we read that the man tells the authorities it was Jesus who healed him – not to get Jesus in trouble, but as an act of faith. He is not turning Jesus in for violating the Sabbath law, he announces Jesus as the man who made him well. Which is what Jesus spends time doing with his ministry, helping people to grow in their understanding of God and what God is about.
    John writes this story in his gospel because it is a story about revealing Jesus, in whom we see God’s kindness and goodness. And this God of kindness and goodness- doesn’t matter where you have been or what you have done, this God wants to make your life better.
    This God wants to use us to make lives better. Hence the fruit of the Spirit of kindness and goodness. And this summer, that fruit was shared by our own youth group and leaders when they took a trip to NYC to be in missions.
    - Speakers from the trip witnessed to the congregation what it was like to minister to everyone and connect with the people. One youth shared how a man told her never to do drugs because that’s what ruined his life. Another young adult shared it opened her eyes to the ways of the world and understanding homelessness is not about laziness but difficult challenges in life. And how good Jesus is for us to model and minister to the downtrodden.
    Friends, may we learn from the Scriptures this day, as well as our Youth and Young Adults, to be open to the Spirit’s leading for God’s will to be kind and good to others, in Jesus’ name.
    Pastoral Prayer Lord of summer sunshine, be with us this day as we gather to encounter your word and your way for us. Remind us that we can place our trust in your eternal love. Enable us to be more effective in our witness to that love by word and deed. Guide our steps and pick us up when we falter. Dust us off and place us on the pathways of grace and service. Help us to mirror Jesus who loved and healed others who were rejected by society. Remind us that we are called to be strong voices of hope for those who feel alienated and lost; we are called to be a home to strangers; to quench thirst and to give nourishment; to welcome and bring words of hope. Forgive us when we have forgotten these things. Enter our hearts this day as we share our joys and concerns in prayer, and in the actions and service that follows. We ask this in the kind and good name of Jesus Christ who taught us to pray, saying…Our Father…
    Offering: You have heard and you have seen how your gifts go to support acts of kindness and goodness. Thank you for your faithfulness with your tithes and offerings.