Bible Study series No.8 from The Gospel of John: " Have you given up? "
Photo of the week: "Maruyama Senmaida rice field"
This week's cover image is of the Maruyama Senmaida rice field in Kiwa Town, Kumano City, which I visited during a memorial service at the British Cemetery the other day. It was cultivated in the late Heian period (794-1185), and there were 2,240 rice paddies in the area when the Toyotomi Hideyoshi surveyed the land around 1600. Later, at the beginning of the Heisei era (1989), the number of rice paddies was reduced to 520 due to the exodus of young people, and the rest of the paddies became desolate. In 1993, the elderly people of the area started to restore the rice fields as a symbol of "cultural heritage protected by the elderly," and in 1997, they finally accomplished the restoration of 1,340 rice fields. Nowadays, many photographers visit the area to admire the distant history and the people who stood up to pass on the culture, and enjoy the beautiful scenery.


Worship Program:10/31, 2021


Matthew 6:26 NIV
26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?

Prayer:                                                                                              Missionary Michio



Special Praise: Ocarina " Amazing Grace "          Missionary Michio      

Bible reading: The Gospel of John 5:1−9                                                                                                    Missionary Michio
Message:The Gospel of John  No. 8
                       Title:" Have you given up? "                                                                                                 Pastor Megumi
Prayer:                                                                                                      Missionary Michio
Benediction:                                                                                           Pastor Megumi
May the Lord bless you and protect you.
May the Lord turn His face toward you and shine upon you
May He turn His face toward you and give you peace." Amen.


Bible Study series No.8 from The Gospel of John: " Have you given up? "


Bible: Gospel of John 5:1-9(NIV)
[Sometime later, Jesus went up to Jerusalem for one of the Jewish festivals. 2 Now there is in Jerusalem near the Sheep Gate a pool, which in Aramaic is called Bethesda[a] and which is surrounded by five covered colonnades. 3 Here a great number of disabled people used to lie—the blind, the lame, the paralyzed. [4] [b] 5 One who was there had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. 6 When Jesus saw him lying there and learned that he had been in this condition for a long time, he asked him, “Do you want to get well?”7 “Sir,” the invalid replied, “I have no one to help me into the pool when the water is stirred. While I am trying to get in, someone else goes down ahead of me.”8 Then Jesus said to him, “Get up! Pick up your mat and walk.” 9 At once the man was cured; he picked up his mat and walked. The day on which this took place was a Sabbath]

Last time, I talked about the healing of the son of a royal official living in Capernaum at Cana in Galilee. I don't know how long it took after that, but it became a Jewish festival. Jesus' group went up to Jerusalem again.


There are seven festivals that the Jews each year, three of which are major ones: the Passover at the end of March or the beginning of April, the Feast of the Seven Weeks fifty days later, and the Feast of Tabernacles in the fall. It may have been one of these festivals, but we don't know which one it was.


The location of this story takes place at the Pond of Bethesda.

There was a pond named Bethesda near the "Sheep Gate" to the northeast of the city of Jerusalem. It means "House of Mercy.

Pond of Bethesda

Sheep Gate


The "five cloisters" are called the Five Books of Moses, and it refers to the first five books of the Old Testament, Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy, which the Samaritans used as their sacred books. Therefore, the pond represents "the law of God, and amid the law is the mercy of God.

People doubted the existence of this pond because it was mentioned only in the Gospel of John. However, in the 19th century, excavations in the city of Jerusalem revealed the remains of this pond, proving the authenticity of the Gospel of John.


The people who had gathered were waiting for the water to move, hoping that they could quickly enter the pond and be cured of their ailments. But in reality, it is unlikely that such miracles happened often. People earnestly hoped that they would not miss such a rare moment and would be the first to jump in. I'm going to be the first to jump in! They must have been in a state of "I can't be bothered with others.

Isn't this feeling similar to the situation we face today?


Jesus looks at the man lying there and asks him in verse 6, "Do you want to get well?  Jesus knows that he has been sick for a long time, so I think Jesus was speaking to the man out of compassion and empathy for his condition. Like the name Bethesda, Jesus approached the man with His compassion.


In this way, we can see that Jesus is close to each one of us.


In verses 8-9, we read,
8 Then Jesus said to him, “Get up! Pick up your mat and walk.” 9 At once the man was cured; he picked up his mat and walked.


Then, the man was healed immediately, and stood up and walked


There may be times in our lives when we think that we are incapable of solving this problem, and so we give up and shelve it to avoid thinking about it. However, at such times, when we take look at what Jesus did in the Bible for those who were suffering from all kinds of difficulties, we are reminded of a new perspective.

It's not a question of "can I do it or not?" It's a question of believing that Jesus will give us the strength we need to overcome and move forward one step at a time.


It's a small experience, but please hear me out.

I had an experience of drowning when I was in elementary school, so I was too timid to see and enjoy the beautiful ocean and rivers. Of course, I was a hammer who could not swim three meters continuously. Kinan, where I live, is rich in natural blessings, especially the coastline, but even when I was driving, I was only looking at the mountains. But when I was driving, all I could see were mountains, because when I looked at the ocean, I had a fear of being sucked in. Last year, at the age of 69, I began to think that this was not good enough, and I thought about practicing in the pool, but I could not make up my mind.

I prayed like this. "Jesus, give me courage. I don't want to carry the old trauma with me forever. But can I do it? How can I learn to swim?"

Eventually, I heard that my neighbor's wife had started taking swimming lessons at a nearby pool. That's when I decided to join, and this November marks my first year.

Everyone, It's amazing!

Thanks to the guidance of the instructors, I can now swim 25 meters in four events (crawl, breaststroke, backstroke, and butterfly), which was my dream. I enjoy swimming, and I am amazed and grateful that even my health, which is suffering from an incurable lung disease, has been improving so much. And now I find myself squinting at the beauty of the ocean when I drive.


My so-called PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) has been overcome. As long as I looked at my complex and trauma, nothing happened. And if I had used common sense in judging my abilities and strength, it probably would not have been possible. God made more than I could have hoped for, and healed me from the fears of the past.

I always enjoy swimming with gratitude to God.


Let's go back to the Bible.

This story did not have a happy ending.

The "timing" of the "miracle" caused a problem.

The reason is the Sabbath, which is kept by the Jews.

The Sabbath is a Jewish holy day from sundown on Friday to Saturday, based on the account in the Old Testament Book of Genesis that God rested on the seventh day after creating the universe and the earth. Jesus broke the law and healed the man, which caused an outcry among the Jews. From this point on, the relationship between the Jews and Jesus would become increasingly bitter.

I'm going to talk about this next week.



(1) Passover: (around April)
Passover is a Jewish holiday that celebrates the Israelites' freedom from slavery and their escape from Egypt.

While reading the Jewish scriptures and eating the traditional Seder meal, Jews reflect on their ancestors who struggled as slaves. They celebrate their liberation from Egypt.

(2) Festival of the Seven Weeks: (Shavuot) Around June

This festival is held on the 50th day after the end of the barley harvest and the day of the first ear festival of the wheat harvest. According to Jewish tradition, the Law of Moses (Ten Commandments) was given on the "seventh week" after the Exodus. Later.

(3) SUKKOT: (September-October)

They celebrate the autumn harvest. This festival is based on the "Exodus" written in the Old Testament.  The Jews remember who were persecuted in Egypt, and after escaping across the sealed by Moses, they wandered in the wilderness for 40 years and lived in crude huts (= temporary hermitages).