DIGITAL BIBLE STUDY – We find him lying on a mat beside a pool, not for leisure, but out of desperation.
He’s paralyzed both physically and spiritually.
Legend has it that each season an Angel comes and stirs the water in the pool.
The first one to reach the water after it’s stirred is immediately healed of any sickness or disease ailing them.
Despite years of trying he’s never been first. So, at the pool he waits; for healing, for restoration, for change.
As I read this familiar biblical passage in John 5:1-9, I was spiritually arrested.
Although written over 2,000 years ago, this story mirrors the lives of many of my closest friends and family members.
How long have you been laying there?
Waiting for someone, or something to magically put the pieces of your life back together? On what side of the pool called life have you laid your mat?
“I’m divorced; I guess I’ll lay right here.”
“I’m single; I’ll just lay right here.”
“I can’t have children; I’ll just lay right here.”
“I’m in debt; I’ll just lay right here.”
“I’m too old; I’ll just lay right here.”
“I’m not smart enough; I’ll just lay right here.”
“I don’t know the right people; I’ll just lay right here.”
“I’m overweight; I’ll just lay right here.”
“I have anxiety; I’ll just lay right here.”
“I’m depressed; I’ll just lay right here.”
“I’ve been abused; I’ll just lay right here.”
How long have you been laying there in the same spot, with the same excuses?
One day while laying by the pool this paralyzed man is approached by Jesus.
Jesus doesn’t offer any form of customary greeting common to Jewish culture; he chooses instead to get this man’s attention by asking a simple question, “Do you want to get well?”
Why would Jesus ask a paralyzed man if he wanted to get well? The answer should be obvious. Wouldn’t anyone suffering from paralysis want to be healed?
Here in lies the problem – 38 years is a long time.
When you have the same problem for that long people begin to know you by it, or even worse to identify you by it.
Have you ever been identified by your issue, your problem, or your circumstances?
With the holidays soon approaching many of us will break bread with friends and family that we have come to know simply by their issues.
Who’s coming to your family dinner?
Is it your deadbeat father, drunk uncle, lonely auntie, crazy brother, or fast cousin? Labels can take a lifetime to shake.
Jesus, asking this man did he want to be well wasn’t a question pertaining to his health. It was a question pertaining to his identity.
Did he want to continue to be known by his issue?
This story found in John’s Gospel tells us that this man was not the only person laying by the pool.
There were others there who were also blind, lame, and paralyzed.
This man was in community with people just like him.
A community of people who shared common experiences of pain, heartache, broken bodies, and broken dreams. Pain and disappointment are often a common denominator in relationships, a bridge that joins together broken hearts.
If this man gets well, he will no longer need to be a part of this community. He will no longer have the same goals, dreams, or objectives as those around him. No matter how hard he tries he will no longer fit in.
It’s never easy to leave a community of people that you know and love.
Your attempts to better yourself can often be deemed as arrogant, and or selfish.
When people can no longer identify you by what they have always defined you by it often creates feelings of contempt.
“How are you just going to up and leave us?”
“Don’t forget where you came from?”
“So you think you are better than us now?”
“Who do you think you are?”
This man has been paralyzed for a long time so although debilitating, his present condition may in some ways have been comfortable.
Not comfortable in a joyous sense, but a familiar one.
If this paralyzed man is made well, it will cost him something.
True healing will always cost you something.
It will require you to think, act, walk and talk different. It will cause you take on a new identity. It will require you to put down the crutches in which you have become so intimately acquainted with.
The man responds to Jesus question like many of us do – with an excuse.
“Sir,” the disabled man answered, “I have no one to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up, but while I’m coming, someone goes down ahead of me.”
What’s your excuse?
“Nobody was there for me.”
“My dad walked out on me.”
“My mom abandoned me.”
“I’m from the wrong part of town.”
“I don’t have enough time.”
“I need more money.”
Jesus, the caricature of empathy and compassion, responds to this man’s excuses with a command, “Get up. Pick up your mat and walk.”
Jesus tells the man to pick up his mat, because we’ll always tend to go back to what feels most comfortable.
Sarah was comfortable before conceiving in her old age. Abraham was comfortable in the land of his Father. Gideon was comfortable threshing wheat. Moses was comfortable in the palace. Peter was comfortable on the boat. David was comfortable tending sheep. Jesus body was comfortable before the cross.
I now tell you the same thing Jesus told this man over 2,000 years ago.
I know it’s been hard, but get up! I know you don’t have everything you need, but get up! I know you’ve been hurt but get up!
There is too much in you and to many people counting on you to stay where you are.
This man made every excuse of why he couldn’t get to the water, but on this day the water came to him. On the last and most important day of the festival, Jesus stood up and cried out.
“If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. The one who believes in me, as the Scripture has said, will have streams of living water flow from deep within him.” (see John 7:37-38).
Stop making excuses and start walking in your destiny.