The Signs of Jesus (IV)
I Got Well
John 5:1-14

Well friends, today is a very special day for us here. In a first for the bilingual chapel, in fact, for the first time for Yokkaichi Christ Church, we have a very special guest with us today.

He has come a very long way just to meet us. He has crossed sandy deserts and traversed rolling seas. It is a great pleasure for me to be able to interview him with you all here and now. Yes! Here, now, all the way from 2000 years ago, it is my honor to introduce to you, Aron from Jerusalem.

Bill: Aron, welcome here today.

Aron: Shalom. Peace be with you. And thank you for inviting me.

Bill: Aron, I see that you have brought something with you.

Aron: Oh, this? Well, this is the mat that I used to lie on all the time before I could walk. I used it for 38 years. It was kind of like a comfort blanket for me. But I don't need it anymore. I just keep it for sentimental reasons. It reminds me of what happened, and helps me to always be thankful.

Bill: I see. Well, could you please tell us a little bit about what happened to your legs?

Aron: Of course. As you know, I used not to be able to walk. Every day my family would take me to the spring pool by the sheep gate at the Temple. It was called Bethesda.

Bill: What was it like there?

Aron: It was a beautiful place, with the five covered colonnades surrounding the spring. Tourists to the temple from out of town would often come to look, but when they saw us, they would always quickly turn and walk off towards the temple.

There was a big group of us there. It actually got quite crowded at times. We all used to try to get as close to the pool as possible.

Bill: Why did you do that?

Aron: Well, it was a natural spring, and occasionally the waters would move a bit. There was a local tradition that when the waters moved, the first person to get into the water would be healed of whatever problems they had. So you can imagine with all of us sick people there that we all wanted to be the first to get in.

But the waters didn't move very often, and even when they did, well, my legs didn't work, and so I couldn't move fast enough to get near the edge of the water, let alone get into the water before anyone else.

Mind you, I don't know that it would have made any real difference even if I had gotten in first, because I never really saw anyone actually get better. In fact one friend ended up getting a bad influenza one year after jumping in in the middle of winter.

The truth is that the idea of getting better by getting into the pool first was just a local tradition. But everyone there kind of became dependent on the spring. Deep down, I think that most of us knew that the spring couldn't do anything for us, but we didn't have anywhere else to go, and at least we had each other there.

But at the same time, we were all really lonely. The spring was next to the Temple. That was such a beautiful building. But where we were, everything just seems so futile. There didn't seem any point in trying, because there was no way that we could change our situation. I never felt that anyone really understood me. Nobody seemed to care.

If you had asked me then whether I believed that God was real, I don't know whether I could have honestly said yes or not.

Bill: Please tell us about the day that you met Jesus.

Aron: Pleasure! Actually, I didn't go to Him. I was just lying there as always. It was completely unexpected. It was just like any other day. The tourists were walking past on their way to the temple. Some stopped to draw sketches, others just stared at us as we looked into the pool in a mindless daze.

Then all of a sudden, a group of people, I thought they were tourists just like all the others, came right into the pool area. They were making quite a noise so we all noticed them. And then, He stood there right before me.

Bill: Jesus?

Aron: Yes, Jesus. He looked deep into my eyes. But when our eyes met, I could feel that He was actually looking deep into my heart.

Bill: What did he say?

Aron: He asked me if I wanted to get well. “What kind of a question is that?” I asked myself. I had been there for 38 years. My family had taken me to all the doctors in town. My friends had all prayed for me. Every day I had tried to get close to the water of that pool. Well, of course I wanted to get better, but really, what chance did I have? So I basically told Him that it was impossible. I thought I was just being realistic.

Bill: And what did He say?

Aron: Well, it was before he actually said anything that it happened. When I was trying to explain my situation to him, He just kept on looking deep into my eyes. But he penetrated right down into my heart, and I suddenly realized that my words weren't necessary. In fact, I realized that my words were clumsy and were just hiding what was really in my heart.

And as He kept on looking at me, I realized that He knew me. I had never met Him before, but somehow, He knew everything about me. It's difficult to explain unless you have seen Him looking into your own eyes, but I felt that I could trust Him completely with my everything.

At first, He didn't seem to look different to His friends, but His eyes spoke to me of His overwhelming love for me. And what's more, I know it might sound strange, but I suddenly felt that He could actually help me.

Bill: So, what happened?

Aron: He gently told me to pick up my mat and walk.

If anyone else had said that to me, I would have kicked them. Actually, at the time, that would have been impossible, of course. But anyway, when Jesus told me to pick up my mat and walk, believe it or not, it just seemed to be the most natural thing to do. I didn't even think about it. Once I had seen Him look into my eyes like that, I never even doubted or thought it strange that He was telling me to get up and walk.

Bill: That's amazing! So was being able to walk the best thing that ever happened to you?

Aron: Well, actually no!

Bill: No?

Aron: Look at it this way. If Jesus had just fixed my legs, sure, I could have thrown my mat away, left the pool, got a job, got married and had a family, and lived happily ever after … until I died!

Bill: Until you died?

Aron: That's right. Let me explain. At the time, I didn't know who Jesus was. Of course, I had been so moved, and I was so grateful. People around us were always saying that health is the most important thing. But I couldn’t walk. And then, miraculously, I could! I was so excited!

But as I picked up my mat and walked off in the general direction of the Temple, I was suddenly confronted by some of the religious leaders who looked pretty upset. They got really angry with me and told me that it was against the law for me to carry my mat because it was the Sabbath.

Bill: What was that about?

Aron: It was to do with God’s Ten Commandments. One of them was to rest on the seventh day of the week – that was the Sabbath. But these religious people had set up 39 rules, can you believe it. They said that their rules were to protect the Sabbath. And number 39 was that you couldn’t carry your bed on the Sabbath!

I was totally shocked. For 38 years, I couldn’t walk or carry things around because of my legs. And now, I was being told that I couldn’t walk and carry things around because of a rule. I never thought that I would be breaking God’s law. I’d been lying on my mat by the pool for so long that I didn’t even know that it was the Sabbath.

Besides, I was standing up and walking for the first time in 38 years. In fact I was actually considering going into the temple to ask how I should say thank you to God that my legs got fixed. I mean, I didn't know who Jesus was then, but surely only God can do miracles like that.

For a moment I felt confused and disappointed. We used to get some pretty negative people hanging around the pool. And I have to admit that I was totally cynical about my own situation ever changing, even when I first started talking to Jesus. But then, when I saw Him looking deep into my heart and I realized that he completely knew me and absolutely loved me, all that negativity suddenly started to disappear.

I started to realize that God had made my heart to live above that negative and destructive way of thinking. My eyes and my heart, no, my very soul, were being opened to see a new life. In that short time, my heart was suddenly being filled with joy and love and hope and strength. And I started to realize that God had somehow come to personally offer it to me. He was giving me a freedom that was much greater than just being able to walk.

And then I walked around the corner and ran into these people who just seemed to want to steal it all away from me again.

They argued that I would be making God angry because I was carrying my mat on the Sabbath and therefore breaking their law. But that didn't seem right to me, because if God had somehow fixed my legs, and not only that, he had also started to fill my heart with a new freedom, with joy and thanksgiving to Him for healing me, then why would God suddenly turn around and be angry at me as soon as I started to use that new freedom? Why would God turn around and take it away again by some rule like that? I mean, I was really only doing what I had been told to do, anyway!

Bill: It does sound a bit of a contradiction!

Aron: Yes! In fact, I found that out for sure just after that! This is what happened:

Just after that, I happened to run into Jesus again at the Temple. Now, remember that at this time I still didn't know who Jesus was. But when we were together again, he looked right into me just as he had before. Then he smiled from his heart with what felt like the deepest love and compassion, and said: “See, you are well again.”

“Of course I am” I thought to myself. It was You who did this for me!

But He kept looking at me. He kept looking inside me. And I could feel His love for me getting stronger within me. I felt more alive with Him looking at me like that than I had ever felt in my life. I felt so grateful, and I was about to say thank you to Him. I really wanted to say thank you to Him. But then He suddenly took me by surprise.

“Stop sinning or something worse may happen to you.”

He was still looking at me. He was still looking within me. At the time, I didn't really understand what He meant. For 38 years all I had done was lie down on my mat by the pool. I might have been a bit cynical sometimes, but I hadn't done anything to hurt anyone. Why did He suddenly tell me to stop sinning? And what did He mean by “something worse happening to me”?

Bill: What happened then?

Aron: Just after that, the religious leaders that had gotten angry with me also came up and got angry with Jesus. They said that He was also making God angry because He had healed me on the Sabbath, so they said that He had broken God’s law too.

But Jesus was just so self assured. He really knew who He was. In fact, Jesus boldly declared that He was actually God’s own son, and that God had entrusted all authority to give life to people, and to judge people, to Him. (vv. 17-22.)

Of course, I was just as surprised as everyone when He said that. But then I looked at my legs. And then I looked at my heart. And then, when I looked back at Jesus, our eyes met,

and He said to me: "I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life. I tell you the truth, a time is coming and has now come when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God and those who hear will live."

It all started to make sense to me. For 38 years, I had thought that my life was pointless and hopeless because I couldn’t walk. But when I met Jesus, I came to realize that the problem with my life was not my legs, but my heart. My heart was so far from God! My heart was dead!

You know, the real purpose of the Sabbath was not to do nothing! If that had been the case, then for 38 years I would have been the most religious person on earth! The reason why God created the day of rest, was for people to turn to Him to find true rest, not just for their bodies, but also for their hearts – for their souls.

So, I was really happy that my legs worked. It was great to be able to move and do things. But Jesus healed my heart too. He showed me His love by forgiving me of my sins. He gave me real peace, He gave me real hope and joy. He made my heart whole! He gave me eternal life!

Bill: Is that why He told you to stop sinning?

Aron: Well, that’s the point. Jesus Himself is the source of eternal life. He is the source of eternal peace. At the time, I was only just starting to see that. So Jesus was telling me to keep remembering it. I had to learn to keep remembering that God loves me, and that my sins have been forgiven.

Especially because I could finally walk – I wanted to test my new strength and freedom. But that is why Jesus told me not to sin – He was telling me to keep remembering that He is the One who gave me this strength and freedom. He is the One who gave me eternal life!

And I am eternally grateful that He did!

Bill: Thank you very much. Let’s pray and give thanks!



彼は私たちに会うために砂埃舞う砂漠を横切りそして波打つ海を渡ってはるばる来てくださいました。今日ここで皆様と共に彼にインタビューすることができることは私の至上の喜びです。 では遥か2,000年前の彼方からはるばる今日ここへ来てくださったエルサレム出身のアーロンさんを紹介します。

Bill: アーロンさん今日はようこそ来てくださいました。

Aron: シャローム、皆さんの上に平安がありますように!そして今日はご招待ありがとうございます。

Bill: アーロンさん今日は何かを持ってきてくださったようですね。

Aron: あー これですか?これは自分が歩けるようになる前にずっとそのうえで伏せていたマットです。38年間使いました。この毛布があると何かしら気持ちが安らぐのですよ。でももう 必要ないですね。今はただ心情的な理由で持っているだけです。過去に何がおきたかを思い出させてくれます。そしていつも感謝の念を忘れないことのために役立てています。

Bill: そうですか。それではアーロンさんあなたの足に何が起きたのかお話していただけますか?

Aron: もちろんです。ご承知の通り私は歩けませんでした。毎日私の家族が神殿の羊の門のそばにある湧水でできた池まで連れて行ってくれました。そこはベセスダと呼ばれていたところです。

Bill: そこはどんなところでしたか?

Aron: その泉は五つの回廊に囲まれていてとても美しい場所でした。町の外から神殿にやってきた旅人達がしばしばその泉を見にきましたが我々病人を見ると素早く踵(きびす)を返して神殿の方へと立ち去って行きました。


Bill: どうして皆が池に近づこうとしたのですか?

Aron: それはですねその池は自然の湧水でできていたのですが時々水が動くことがありました。 そして水が動いたときに水の中に入った人はどんな病気を患っていても治るというその場所固有の言い伝えがあったのです。だからそこに集まった病人たち誰もが真っ先に水の中に入りたがったことは皆さんにも想像がつくと思います。


いいですか 良く聞いてください。たとえ私が真っ先に水の中に入れたとしても何か違う結果がもたらされたかどうかは私にはわかりません。というのは本当のところ病気が治った人を一人も見たことがないんですよ。実際に起きたことといえば一人の友人が真冬に水の中に飛び込んだ一年後に重いインフルエンザに罹ったことぐらいです。


同時に我々は皆本当に淋しかったのです。泉は神殿の隣にありました。神殿は素晴らしく美しい建物でした。しかし我々がいたところは 全てがむなしく思えました。何をしても無駄なように思えました。というのは我々の境遇を変える術(すべ)がなかったからです。私のことを真に理解している人がいるなどとは思えませんでした。誰も私のことなど気にかけていないように見えました。

もしその時 あなたは神の実在を信じるかと尋ねられたならはいと正直に答えることができたかどうか自信がありません。

Bill: それではあなたがイエス様にあった日のことをお話してください。

Aron: 喜んでお話しします。実は私がイエス様のところにいったのではありません。私はいつものとおりそこでマットの上に伏せていました。全く何も期待していませんでした。その日はいつもと何ら変わらない日でした。旅人達は我々の横を通り過ぎて神殿に向かって歩いてました。 ある人は立ち止まってスケッチを描き ある人は我々がぼーっと池の中を覗き込んでいるのを見ていました。

Bill: イエス様ですね?

Aron: はいそうです。彼は私の目をじっと覗き込みました。しかし目と目が会ったとき私はイエス様が私の心の奥深くを見ておられると感じました。

Bill: イエス様は何といわれましたか?

Aron: イエス様は私に良くなりたいかと尋ねました。これは何という質問だろうと自問しました。 私はそこに38年もいたのです。私の家族は私を診察してもらうために町中の医者に連れて行きました。また友達は皆私のため祈ってくれました。私は毎日池の水に近づこうと努力しました。 もちろん私は良くなりたかったのですが本当のところどれだけ良くなる見込みがあったのでしょうか?ですから私はイエス様に基本的にそれは不可能ですと告げました。その時はそう答えるのが現実的なことに思えたのです。

Bill: それでイエス様はなんと言われましたか?

Aron: それが 彼が何かを言う前にそのことが起きたのです。私の状況を説明しようとしていたとき彼は私の目の奥深くを見続けていました。そして私の心の中を見抜きました。私は突然なにも言う必要がないことにきづきました。気の利かない言葉はかえって私の心の中に抱いている本当の気持ちを隠してしまうことにきづいたのです。

そして彼が私を見続けてるとき私は彼が私のことを知っていることにきづきました。 私はこれまで彼と会ったことはありませんでしたがどういうわけか彼は私の全てを知っていたのです。彼があなたの目をじって見つめているところをあなたが実際に見なければこのことはなかなか説明がつきません。とにかく私はその時私の全身全霊をこめて彼のことを信じることができると思えたのです。


Bill: それでどうなりました?

Aron: 彼は私に床をあげて歩きなさいと優しく言いました。

もし誰か他の人がそのようなことを私に言ったなら私はその人を蹴飛ばしていたでしょう。もっともその時足が悪かった私にはそれは不可能でしたが。とにかくイエス様が私にマットをたたみ歩きなさいと言われたとき 信じてもらえるかどうかわかりませんがそうすることが最も自然なことと思えたのです。そのことをどうこう考えることもしませんでした。イエス様が私の目をあのように見つめるのを見た今では彼が私に立って歩きなさいと言われたことに全く何の疑いも抱きませんでしたし或いはそれがおかしなこととも決して思いませんでした。

Bill: それは素晴らしいことですね。それで歩けるようになったことがあなた自身にこれまでおきたことの中で最も素晴らしいことでしたか?

Aron: 実をいうとそうではありません。

Bill: 違うのですか?

Aron: こういう見方をしてください。もしイエス様が私の足を治してくださっただけなら私はこのマットを捨て 池を離れ 仕事につき結婚して家族を持ち 幸せに過ごしたことでしょう。死ぬまでは(つまりこの世での命が終わるまでは)…

Bill: この世での命が終わるまでは ですか?

Aron: そうです。説明させてください。その時は私はまだイエス様を知りませんでした。もちろん 病気を治してもらったことに大変感動し また感謝してます。まわりの人は健康が一番大切なものだと常々言ってます。しかし歩けなかった私がついに奇跡的に歩けるようになったんです。本当に興奮しました。


Bill: いったいどういうことですか?

Aron: それは神が定められた十戒に関係したことです。そのうちの一つが週の七日目つまり安息日に休みを取るということです。しかし彼ら宗教家たちは39もの規則を制定したのです。信じられますか?彼らはそれらの規則は安息日を守るためのものだといいます。そして39番目の規則が安息日に床を運んではいけないと定めていると! 

私は大変なショックを受けました。38年間足萎えのため歩くことも物を運ぶこともできませんでした。そして歩けるようになった今規則のため歩いたり物を運んだりしてはいけないと言われたのです。神が定められた律法をまさか私が犯すことになるなどとは夢にも思いませんでした。 あまりにも長い間池のそばのマットの上で伏せていたので今日が安息日だということすら知りませんでした。



私は神が否定的で破滅的な考え方から私の心を引き上げてこれからの人生を生きていくようにしてくださったことに気づき始めました。私の目 心いや魂が新たな命を見るために開かれたのです。 その短い時間のなかで私の心は突如 喜び 愛 希望 そして力で満たされたのです。 そして神が新しい命を直接私に授けるために何とかして来てくださったことに私は気が付いたのです。 彼はただ歩くことができるということよりはるかに大いなるもの即ち自由を私に与えてくださったのです。


彼らは私が安息日にマットを運んで律法を犯し神を冒涜していると主張しました。しかし私には彼らが正しいことを言ってるとは思えないのです。なぜならもし神が何らかの方法で私の足を治しさらに新しい自由 喜び そして病を癒してくれたことを神に感謝する気持ちで私の心を満たしてくださったのならどうして神は突然態度を変えて規則だからといってそれを奪い取ったりするでしょうか?とにかく本当に私は言われたとおりにしただけなのですから!

Bill: いささか矛盾してますね!

Aron: 全くです。実は私もそのことが起きた後でわかったのです。これがことの顛末です:



しかし彼は私を見続けました。私の心の中を見続けたのです。私は彼の愛が私の中でより強くなってきているのを感じることができました。彼がこのように私を見つめてくださってるために これまでの人生で感じたことがないほど生きている実感をより強くおぼえました。私は感謝の気持ちで溢れそして彼にありがとうと言おうとしました。本当に彼にありがとうと言いたかったのです。しかし彼の次の言葉に私は大変驚かされました:



Bill: それからどうなりました?

Aron: その直後私に腹を立てた祭司や律法学者たちはイエス様の所にきて彼にも怒りをぶつけました。彼らは私を安息日に癒したことによりイエスも神の法を犯ししたがって神を怒らせたというのです。



その時彼は言いました:まことに、まことに、あなたがたにつげます。わたしのことばをきいて、 わたしを遣わした方を信じる者は、永遠のいのちを持ち、さばきに会うことがなく、死からいのちに移っているのです。 まことに、まことに、あなた方に告げます。死人が神の子の声を聞くときが来ます。今がその時です。そして、聞く者は生きるのです。

ようやく意味が分かってきました。38年間 歩くことができなかったため私の人生は無意味で絶望的なものだったと思っていました。しかしイエス様に出会って私の人生の問題は足にあったのではなく心にあったのだと気づかされたのです。私の心は神から遠く離れていたのでした。心は死んでいました。



Bill: だからイエス様はあなたにもう罪を犯してはならないといわれたのですか?

Aron: そこが重要なポイントです。イエス様ご自身が永遠の命の源です。永遠の平和の源です。 当時私は少しそのことがわかり始めたところでした。 だからイエス様は私がそのことを忘れないように言ってくださったのです。神が私を愛してくださっていることをそしてわたしの罪が赦されたことをいつも忘れないよう学ばなければならなかったのです。

特に私はようやく歩けるようになった為 新しく得た力と自由をいろいろ試したかったのです。 だからこそイエス様が私にもう罪を犯してはならないと注意してくださったのです。彼は私に彼こそが私にこの力と自由を与えたくださった方であることを忘れないようにと言ってくださったのです。彼こそが永遠の命をくださったお方なのです。


Bill: アーロンさん ありがとうございます。 感謝の祈りを捧げます。