Relax and listen. Consciously prepare to hear God’s Word. Clear your mind of the worries and tasks that lie before you. Open your heart and allow it to refresh.
John 5:1-18 (NRSV)
After this there was a festival of the Jews, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem.
Now in Jerusalem by the Sheep Gate there is a pool, called in Hebrew Beth-zatha, which has five porticoes. In these lay many invalids—blind, lame, and paralyzed. One man was there who had been ill for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him lying there and knew that he had been there a long time, he said to him, “Do you want to be made well?” The sick man answered him, “Sir, I have no one to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up; and while I am making my way, someone else steps down ahead of me.” Jesus said to him, “Stand up, take your mat and walk.” At once the man was made well, and he took up his mat and began to walk.
Now that day was a sabbath. So the Jews said to the man who had been cured, “It is the sabbath; it is not lawful for you to carry your mat.” But he answered them, “The man who made me well said to me, ‘Take up your mat and walk.’” They asked him, “Who is the man who said to you, ‘Take it up and walk’?” Now the man who had been healed did not know who it was, for Jesus had disappeared in the crowd that was there. Later Jesus found him in the temple and said to him, “See, you have been made well! Do not sin any more, so that nothing worse happens to you.” The man went away and told the Jews that it was Jesus who had made him well. Therefore the Jews started persecuting Jesus, because he was doing such things on the sabbath. But Jesus answered them, “My Father is still working, and I also am working.” For this reason the Jews were seeking all the more to kill him, because he was not only breaking the sabbath, but was also calling God his own Father, thereby making himself equal to God.
Jesus was heading to a festival, which makes me think that, like me, he would have been thinking about friends, food, and fun. But, unlike me, he was not focused on the excitement to come, but was aware of the needs of the people around him, even on the sabbath.
Jesus saw a man who had suffered and probably been ignored for 38 years. Imagine having an illness take over your body, but instead of being able to go to a doctor, seek treatment, and find relief, you are forced to sit by a pool. This pool reportedly has healing power, but only at certain times. However, since you cannot move quickly, or maybe not by yourself, you are not able even to dip your toes into the water. No one will come to your aide, even though you are hurting. Maybe, even worse, you are simply one of the many people who are brought to the pool and no one really sees you or cares about you.
Then Jesus walks by the pool and he sees you out of the many who are there. Jesus offers the man healing, but he doesn’t carry the man to the pool. Jesus gives him an action step. It is the man’s responsibility to follow Jesus’ directions: to get up, take his mat, and walk.
Let’s be people who see the needs of those around us and have the courage to follow the directions God gives us.
Jesus, our healer, we give you praise for your compassion. Help us to be people who hear your call to be compassionate and have the courage to follow your directions. Amen.
Go with God.