Reading: 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?” John 5:6.
Good morning, happy Tuesday, and many blessings my dear family.
Today’s Gospel (John 5:1-6) passage opens with Jesus traveling to Jerusalem. When he arrived in Jerusalem, Jesus entered Jerusalem through the Sheep Gate, which was one of several entrances into Jerusalem. Near this gate was a pool called Bethsaida. This was a large area that had five entrances. These five entrances were filled with the sick, the lame, and the dying.
Lying at the Sheep Gate was a man who had been there for 38 years. Can you imagine yourself living in a public area for 38 years? Did the man not have any family? Had his family rejected him? Were they too poor to care for him? Can you imagine not being in the midst of your family? The situation must have been debilitating for this man, physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Had the poor man come to the Sheep Gate primarily to beg or did he still have hope that one day he actually might be healed?
When Jesus came into Jerusalem, he saw the man lying on the floor. Jesus could tell from the man’s debilitated appearance that he had been ill for many, many years. Jesus quietly walked over to the man and asked him a simple but very powerful question: Do you want to heal yourself? I wonder if the man’s inner response was: “Well, of course, I want to be heal! Who wouldn’t?”
The man did not answer the question that Jesus had posed. Rather, he said to Jesus: “I have no one to help me into the water when it is stirred up.” He told Jesus that by the time he got to the pool, others had already gotten into the water and there was no room for him. Jesus listened intently to the man and then quietly, yet powerfully told the man to stand up, take up his mat, and walk. Jesus did not do a dramatic healing. Rather he quietly and lovingly spoke to the man.
The man immediately stands up, picks up his mat, and walks! It must have taken him a few moments to get his balance after not using his legs for such a long time. What a life changing moment this was for the man! He had been on the sidelines of life for many years. Now he could be active and involved once again. Perhaps he could even have a trade and actually support his family. No longer would he have to beg and be pitied. Perhaps he would be able to help other people who were ill, poor, and unable to sustain themselves.
When Jesus spoke the words: “Rise, take up your mat and walk,” a whole new world opened up for this man. Those simple yet healing words changed the man and his life forever. What a wonderful gift to receive. The three commands of Jesus changed the life of this man: completely: “Stand up, take your mat and walk.” Or in other words become active again. But only when spoken by Jesus have these words such force. If we allow Christ to speak these same words to us, we will achieve much. Today may we be open and listening to Jesus’ healing words for us. May we be attentive and listen with the ear of our hearts.