To walk in wholeness and truth

After this there was a Jewish festival, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. In Jerusalem near the Sheep Gate in the north city wall is a pool with the Aramaic name Bethsaida. It had five covered porches, and a crowd of people who were sick, blind, lame, and paralyzed sat there. A certain man was there who had been sick for thirty- eight years. When Jesus saw him lying there, knowing that he had already been there a long time, he asked him, “Do you want to get well?”

The sick man answered him, “Sir, I don’t have anyone who can put me in the water when it is stirred up. When I’m trying to get to it, someone else has gotten in ahead of me.”

Jesus said to him, “Get up! Pick up your mat and walk.” Immediately the man was well, and he picked up his mat and walked. Now that day was the Sabbath.

The Jewish leaders said to the man who had been healed, “It’s the Sabbath; you aren’t allowed to carry your mat.”

He answered, “The man who made me well said to me, ‘Pick up your mat and walk. ‘”

They inquired, “Who is this man who said to you, ‘Pick it up and walk’?” The man who had been cured didn’t know who it was, because Jesus had slipped away from the crowd gathered there.

Later Jesus found him in the temple and said, “See! You have been made well. Don’t sin anymore in case something worse happens to you.” The man went and proclaimed to the Jewish leaders that Jesus was the man who had made him well. ~John 5:1-15 (CEB)

“Thirty-eight years is a long time to be unwell. After so long, you might get used to being sick, and develop some strong habits to keep yourself infirm. After all, when you are stuck in a closet of ill health- and everyone around you is also used to being unwell- then being sick seems like the thing to do. If you decide to get well, all the other infirm people will complain about it.

This is the way it was for the man described in John 5:1-15. He felt at home in his infirmity, as did all the others who occupied the surrounding porticos. They were all unwell, and they spent all their time waiting but not seeing that their most serious illness was that they were ‘at home’ in their ill health. They would have felt quiet naked had they suddenly found themselves exposed to wellness. And so Jesus had remind this man that there was another alternative: ‘Do you really want to get well?’

The man’s response tells it all, as he reels off a long list of excuse:

I don’t have anyone to put me into the water.

When the angel comes to stir the water, someone gets there ahead of me.

So you see, all I can do is remain unwell for another year.

But I am faithful. I have been waiting for thirty-eight years.

Go ahead! Blame circumstances, blame the angel, blame the other sick people around you for not letting you in first. . . .  Do you realize the waters that need to be stirred are inside you? Just once why don’t you get up and get there first? If you listen carefully at this moment, you may just hear Jesus saying to you in the portico of your heart, ‘Get up! . . .  Pick up your mat and walk!” ~Norman Shawchuck

Heavenly Father, You know my lists and my excuses. Open my eyes this day to see past my perceived stumbling blocks to wellness. Help me to feel Your Presence I seek to get my feet underneath me so that I may walk in Your ways of wholeness and truth. Amen.

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