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Sunday, January 31, 2016

Today’s Reading | John 5:1–15       

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. (NRSV)

“Do you want to be made well?” This question Jesus posed to the man who had been lying by the healing pool of Bethzatha for a really long time pierces pretense and excuses. Surely someone who has been ill for thirty-eight years could have found a way to become well if he really wanted to, as close to the waters of healing as he had positioned himself. Perhaps doubt or resignation or complacency had clouded his desire for change.

I think Jesus asks us this same question: “Do you want to be made well?” Though Christ’s forgiveness is at hand, is there some guilt you are hanging onto, even after a long time? Though new life is promised, are you nursing an old grievance against another, or fueling feelings of hurt and betrayal? Though you are cherished with God’s unconditional love, are you still acting out of a sense of rejection or injustice? Though reconciliation is empowered through God’s love, are you still alienated from another? Do you really want to be made well? Listen to what “reasons” may surface for you to sustain your status quo and wonder with Jesus about it.

Even though the man by the pool seemed to give another excuse, Jesus healed him through a direct command. “Take up your mat and walk.” So to us, Jesus says, “Get up. Move on. I have blessed you with wholeness. Live into my healing. Receive my love and show my love.”

Loving Christ, give me courage to claim the abundant life that you offer us. I lift up to you all the places where I am wounded and broken and ask for you to heal me. Give me the strength to change and move forward, trusting the power of your compassion. Amen.

Written by Victoria G. Curtiss, Associate Pastor for Mission

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