For 38 years he had been an invalid. During those long, torturous seasons, he had lain with the other outcasts at the pool of Bethsada. Year after year was filled with days when he wondered if this would be the one when he made it into the pool and was healed.
Quite unexpectedly, a man he did not know approached him and asked if he wanted to get well. It was strange question, followed quickly by a strange instruction: “Get up! Pick up your mat and walk.” Maybe it was the look in His eyes; or perhaps the authority in His voice; but for whatever reason, he decided to try moving his legs. And in the moment he did, they were strong – so he continued pushing until he was standing! It was a miracle, a gift of grace.
However, the man was now in quite the dilemma.
For more than 38 years he had been a Jew. The strength of his heritage was strong. He knew and embraced the Law of Moses and the Ten Commandments given on Mt. Sinai. And he was well aware of the strict definitions assigned to each of those commandments by the likes of the Jewish leadership standing nearby.
The man who had healed him told him to “pick up his mat and walk.” But the stranger had chosen to heal him on the Sabbath. As he looked down at the mat and then to the watching eyes of the Jews, he knew that picking up that mat would be considered “work” and he would be held in direct violation of the Fourth Commandment. Yet, after 38 years, how could he ignore the instruction his healer had given? He decided he would not, so he picked up his mat and walked right into the legalistic storm.
“So, because Jesus was doing these things on the Sabbath, the Jews persecuted him.”
In preparation for our time of study on Sunday, let me encourage you to read the following verses:
- John 5:1-8 – the miracle
- John 5:9-16 – the confrontation
Now consider reading the verses again and look beyond the drama for what Jesus tells the man about how to sustain the change that had just occurred. That will be the real lesson for Sunday.
“Lord, if you want to use me in any way today, I am available.”
Love God – Love Neighbor – Lead Others