|Tuesday of the Fourth Week of Lent
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 Bethesda, 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. Therefore the Jews started persecuting Jesus, because he was doing such things on the sabbath.
Lent 2016: The Healing Presence
I made an appointment with a chiropractor for the first time in the autumn of 1987. I had just moved to Chicago in the hot summer and my body needed to catch up on my new adventure. I was not certain that I would trust a chiropractor. I was always told that their remedy was like their nickname, “bone crusher”.
So on a late Friday afternoon, I found myself on a comfortable but oddly shaped table in an office with soft light entering the large windows. The dried leaves on the trees were fluttering on the widow. I could feel the darkness of night approaching as time passed. Dr. Pam worked on me for a full hour. She explained very little, her presence was reassuring and yet I had to learn to trust it. After the adjustments she made on my spine and working on my muscles, she let me rest on my back. She instructed me to breathe and to relax and then she left the room. The room grew more and more quite as daylight faded. I began to settle into the healing that she offered me.
When the doctor came back into the room, she pushed a padded stool with wheels over to the table and sat next to me. She took my right hand into both of her hands. She said to me in a compassionate, caring voice, “When are you going to do something about your life?” I promptly said to her, with out hesitation, “I know what my issues are, I am fine!”
Well, eventually we were both able to laugh at my statement. I spent many late afternoons on that table. The healing I experienced in those days led me deeper into God’s care for me and enabled my voice to come forth in my ministry. Healing takes time and it does not happen all at once. I resisted the healing the first time on the table, but eventually I was able to rise, to live my life in the world, to be free enough to follow Jesus to many cities and places. I also have found myself in the caring hands of many chiropractors throughout the country.
I admit that I still carry, “my issues” from city to city. However, I now rest in the assurance after all these years that people can help me carry them, that healing is for real in prayer and in ministry.
As the sick man waited for thirty-eight years, healing takes time. We hear Jesus’ invitation to rise, pick up our mats and walk. We are all on the journey to the precious healing that restores our bodies, our minds and our souls.
Here are some questions for today:
What emotional pain are you carrying within your body?
How have other people offered to help you into the realm of Jesus’ healing?
Can you pick up your mat, which is the reality of your life, the sin and love?
How is this Lenten season opening up a new path for you?
How are you waiting for the mercy of Jesus’ healing touch?