At that time, there was a festival day of the Jews: and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. Now there is at Jerusalem a pond, called Probatica, which in Hebrew is named Bethsaida, having five porches.
In these lay a great multitude of sick, of blind, of lame, of withered: waiting for the moving of the water. And an angel of the Lord descended at certain times into the pond and the water was moved. And he that went down first into the pond after the motion of the water was made whole of whatsoever infirmity he lay under.
And there was a certain man there that had been eight and thirty years under his infirmity. When Jesus had seen him lying, and knew that he had been now a long time, he saith to him: “Wilt thou be made whole?” The infirm man answered him: “Sir, I have no man, when the water is troubled, to put me into the pond. For whilst I am coming, another goeth down before me.” Jesus saith to him: “Arise, take up thy bed and walk.” And immediately the man was made whole: and he took up his bed and walked. And it was the sabbath that day.
The Jews therefore said to him that was healed: “It is the sabbath. It is not lawful for thee to take up thy bed.” He answered them: “He that made me whole, he said to me: Take up thy bed and walk.” They asked him therefore: “Who is that man who said to thee: Take up thy bed and walk?” But he who was healed knew not who it was: for Jesus went aside from the multitude standing in the place. Afterwards, Jesus findeth him in the temple and saith to him: “Behold thou art made whole: sin no more, lest some worse thing happen to thee.” The man went his way and told the Jews that it was Jesus who had made him whole. John 5:1-15
It is now lawful to pick up your bed on the sabbath. It is not lawful to heal on the sabbath.
There comes a point in all of our lives, perhaps multiple times in our lives, when we are confronted with a difficult choice that may be more difficult for some and less difficult for others: namely, do I walk with the status quo or do I go in my own direction?
I was once walking down the street in a busy city, and saw a man, drunk, sitting on the ground. Everyone on that busy street was walking around him, giving him a wide berth. A man with two companions walked up to the man, smiled, and wished him a good morning. The man looked up at him, smiled, and wished him the same, asking him how his day was going. The man looked down and said very busy, but he was enjoying it. They wished each other a good day, and the three men walked away. People continued to walk around the man, continued to give him a wide berth.
The man continued to smile.
Sometimes it’s more complicated that just saying hello.
For a very long time I found myself in a situation that I thought was beneficial to me, that was helpful to me. It was an abusive situation in which a great many of us struggled under the stress of a goal that was not only unrealistic, the promise of happiness that was kept dangled in front of us became more and more impossible. The status quo stayed the same because most, if not all of us in the situation, benefited to some extent–typically some greatly more than others. Over the years, resentment developed, people began lashing out at each other in frustration, blaming the other for situations that were not in their control. It created grossly unhealthy relationships, and inevitably I cracked under the strain of trying to keep the goal alive. Through that cracking, I slowly began to rebuild my identity, I began to know myself, my limitations, my abilities. The quality of my performance was challenged. Instead of accepting the statement blindly, I researched. I asked questions. I discovered that, in reality, people greatly valued what I was doing, they valued the reliability and care of what I was doing. They valued me.
“Arise, take up thy bed, and walk.”
When I made the choice to stand up, rather than wait for the opportunity to step into the pool, I was challenged.
“What would be on your resume that anyone would possibly find valuable enough to hire you?”
When we break from a regularity that is harmful, limiting, but routine, others will challenge. They will see that the man no longer lays by the pool, but walks. They will say “You should not carry your bed, it’s unlawful,” blind to the fact:
The. Man. Walks.
That blindness is the routine, the inability to see beyond the limitations we create for ourselves. The overwhelming good seen in this man’s ability to walk after 38 years is ignored, because the world view held by the people can only see he is carrying a bed on the Sabbath.
This weekend, challenge yourself to look at how you see the world. Where have you looked and only seen someone breaking a rule? Where have you allowed yourself to only see a man carrying the bed, because admitting that he walks would require you to change a great deal about how you see the world?
God love you.