Throughout this Lenten season, I have endeavored to stir up recognition of the many times we have scripture verses that reveal Jesus to us as "friend." I don't mean friend as we might call out to a recent encounter. Rather I speak about friend as the person you believe to be someone who would most likely endure the sacrifice of his/her life on your behalf. There are so many stories in the NT that demonstrate Jesus' willingness to share his true and deep friendship with each of us.
Today's gospel story portrays a person who seems to be something of a failure. Notice he does not ask Jesus to help him, to cure his illness. Jesus has to ask the crippled man if he wants Jesus to cure him. Furthermore, rather than accept Jesus' obvious invite to healing, the man prefers to offer a complaint: "Can't you see no one cares for me to help me get to the pool of water." But Jesus doesn't give up. Instead of ignoring completely, he tells the man to get up and walk. Later this same man sees Jesus but speaks not one word of gratitude. Jesus must be on the verge of a slow burn. He says to the man, "Look, you are well; do not sin anymore." Then the cured man goes to tell the authorities that Jesus had "worked" a miracle on his behalf. He would have known this would lead to criticism of Jesus for "working" on the Sabbath.
Surely Jesus knew what this ungrateful man would say or do. Is it any wonder this man laid poolside for 38 years without help? Nonetheless the true friend who seems to be rebuffed by this ill man, does not consider changing plans. He shows his true friendship.
It is good for us to consider again the value of Jesus' friendship: it is without any restrictions save one -- sine no more! Have you ever ignored Jesus' effort to assure you of his friendship? This is the friend who would be willing to die for you!