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.

To be whole

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)

“Do you want to get well? is a shocking question. Of course I want to be well! But then on closer reflection I am forced to ask, Do I really want to get well? At times I am so attached to my illness (today we could also say addiction) that I prefer illness to health. Possibly my illness (addiction) keeps me from facing the real problem or my real self. My illness could be the crutch I have used to hide or circumvent deeper spiritual problems.

The question also shocks because it reminds me that I am a participant in my road to health. God may indeed bring miraculous, sudden, or slow healing with or without the benefit of modern medicine. But it appears that God does not bring healing unless I desire to be whole. So once again I am reminded that I am partner with God. I am asked to participate in the healing process. Even in the miraculous healing I am asked to be a full participant.

In the passage where this question is posed Jesus gives instructions to ‘take up your bed and walk.’ The mental desire to be well now shifts to a physical act. I am asked to take some specific actions to open the doors to healing. Do I want to be well? Yes, yes, even if it means taking up my bed and carrying what has been carrying me. I am indeed helpless on my own and I am indeed invincible with God. God does have the ability to make me whole once again. In obedience I will take up my bed and walk on the pathway to wholeness.” ~A Guide to Prayer for All Who Seek God, Rueben P. Job

Heavenly Father, open my eyes so that I may see the bonds that keep me from being free. I want to truly walk in Your ways and feel Your healing hand on my life. I desire to be whole. Amen.