Week 5, Day 4


John 5:1-16

   Some time later, Jesus went up to Jerusalem for one of the Jewish festivals.  Now there is in Jerusalem near the Sheep Gate a pool, which in Aramaic is called Bethesda and which is surrounded by five covered colonnades.  Here a great number of disabled people used to lie—the blind, the lame, the paralyzed.  One who was there had been an invalid for thirty-eight years.  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?”
  “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.”
   Then Jesus said to him, “Get up! Pick up your mat and walk.”  At once the man was cured; he picked up his mat and walked.
   The day on which this took place was a Sabbath, and so the Jewish leaders said to the man who had been healed, “It is the Sabbath; the law forbids you to carry your mat.”
   But he replied, “The man who made me well said to me, ‘Pick up your mat and walk.’”
   So they asked him, “Who is this fellow who told you to pick it up and walk?”
   The man who was healed had no idea who it was, for Jesus had slipped away into the crowd that was there.
  Later Jesus found him at the temple and said to him, “See, you are well again.  Stop sinning or something worse may happen to you.”  The man went away and told the Jewish leaders that it was Jesus who had made him well.
   So, because Jesus was doing these things on the Sabbath, the Jewish leaders began to persecute him.

Points of Interest:

 

  • 'Here a great number of disabled people used to lie—the blind, the lame, the paralyzed.  One who was there had been an invalid for thirty-eight years.'

In this passage, we are introduced to one man who has spent nearly his entire life waiting for a miracle. This man’s experience, in many ways, parallels the experience of any life that feels stuck. 

  • '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?”'

You’d think the answer would be obvious, but it’s not that simple.  From the man’s reaction later on, it’s clear he is not happy about being healed! Sometimes, we get so comfortable being stuck, we don’t even think to want a better situation.  It’s the classic experience of living a life of works (that feel safe!) rather than living a life of faith.

  • “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.”

Notice that his answer is not, “Yes! I want to get well!” or, “No thanks. I’m good.”  Instead, he dives into a speech that justifies himself. It’s a common behavior to spend more energy justifying where we’re at over and above engaging our faith and working for change. 

  • 'Then Jesus said to him, “Get up! Pick up your mat and walk.”  At once the man was cured; he picked up his mat and walked.'

Jesus is very abrupt.  Get up!  Take charge of your life!  Walk!  This command is about more than his physical condition.  This man is being called out of passivity. He being called to cultivate the “audacity” to work for a better life. 

  • 'The day on which this took place was a Sabbath, and so the Jewish leaders said to the man who had been healed, “It is the Sabbath; the law forbids you to carry your mat.”'

This was an incredible healing, but what the religious leaders focus on is a rule from the Bible.  This very easily can happen when religion turns into a matter of ‘talk,’ rather than power.

  • 'But he replied, “The man who made me well said to me, ‘Pick up your mat and walk.’”

As before, the man blames someone else for his situation.  His mentality is still firmly in the identity of being crippled.  The command from Jesus to get up and walk has only happened physically at this point. It has not yet taken root in his soul. 

  • 'The man went away and told the Jewish leaders that it was Jesus who had made him well.  So, because Jesus was doing these things on the Sabbath, the Jewish leaders began to persecute him.'

It would appear that this man goes out of his way to find the religious leaders in order to get Jesus into trouble! Even though he has experienced a great miracle, an answer to his life-long prayer even, it acts as a curse.  This is a warning to us to not let answers to prayer become more important than living a life that is full of faith and relationship with the living God!

Taking it home

For you

Do you feel paralyzed by some situation in life?  Ask God for a breakthrough.  Ask God to help you ‘get up and walk.’  Envision what that might look like. Ask God for the ability to push through these situations.

For my “at least one”

Are any of your “at least one” waiting for a breakthrough in some area of their life?  Ask God to give them a breakthrough AND the faith to believe for even more breakthroughs!

For our church

Ask God to make our church a community that empowers people to ‘get up and walk.’   We want to empower people to take charge of their own lives, not give it to others.