In Jerusalem near the Sheep Gate in the north city wall is a pool with the Aramaic name Bethsaida. It had five covered porches, and a crowd of people who were sick, blind, lame, and paralyzed sat there. A certain man was there who had been sick for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him lying there, knowing that he had already been there a long time, he asked him, “Do you want to get well?”
The sick man answered him, “Sir, I don’t have anyone who can put me in the water when it is stirred up. When I’m trying to get to it, someone else has gotten in ahead of me.”
Jesus said to him, “Get up! Pick up your mat and walk.” Immediately the man was well, and he picked up his mat and walked. Now that day was the Sabbath.
The Jewish leaders said to the man who had been healed, “It’s the Sabbath; you aren’t allowed to carry your mat.”
He answered, “The man who made me well said to me, ‘Pick up your mat and walk.’”
They inquired, “Who is this man who said to you, ‘Pick it up and walk’?” The man who had been cured didn’t know who it was, because Jesus had slipped away from the crowd gathered there.
Later Jesus found him in the temple and said, “See! You have been made well. Don’t sin anymore in case something worse happens to you.” The man went and proclaimed to the Jewish leaders that Jesus was the man who had made him well.
As a result, the Jewish leaders were harassing Jesus, since he had done these things on the Sabbath. Jesus replied,“My Father is still working, and I am working too.” For this reason the Jewish leaders wanted even more to kill him—not only because he was doing away with the Sabbath but also because he called God his own Father, thereby making himself equal with God.
My wife and daughter have been diagnosed with fibromyalgia; an invisible syndrome that’s only recently been accepted as a “real” ailment. People with fibro look normal but they’re in constant pain. I can only imagine what that’s like. As I’ve gotten older, some of my old college injuries make their presence known on a daily basis. But it’s nothing compared to what my wife and daughter (and millions of others) suffer with daily. In all honesty, I’m stunned and humbled by their grace and strength under such anguish. They’re truly remarkable women.
The man in the story had been sick for almost forty years. And, because of his illness, he was an outcast of society. Furthermore, he was an outcast religiously. And, most likely, he was an outcast economically. So, this guy’s in a real pickle! And to top it off, he can’t get to the healing he needs.
Finally, when G_d’s Realm slowly started to “invade” our realm though the life and ministry of Jesus, the man was healed. Completely. Jesus tells him to take his belongings and leave. Of course, when the man is seen carrying his mat, some of the Religious Elite accuse him of breaking their Sabbath requirements. Once more we see that the arrival (and continued manifestation) of G_d’s Realm not only turns our social statuses upside down (or puts them right-side up), but the same thing is done to our religious systems. The manifestation of G_d’s Realm completely exposes our selfish systems and calls them into question.
We see this played out in the last scene of the story before us. Not only did the healing of the man expose the self-righteousness of the Empirical Religious System of the time, it also exposed the falseness of the man who was healed. That’s what G_d’s Realm does. It’s purpose is for G_d’s Realm to be “on earth as it is in heaven.” As it expands, the falseness in our world is exposed, brought into the light, and changes.
In the Love of the Three in One,
Br. Jack+, LC