The kids and I have been going through the book of John in the mornings. Something we read yesterday keeps weighing heavy on my heart and mind. It is the account of when Jesus had returned to Jerusalem for one of the Jewish holy days and stopped inside the city at a pool named Bethesda.
Around the pool were five covered porches. Crowds of sick people—blind, lame, or paralyzed—lay on the porches. One of the men lying there had been sick for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him and knew he had been ill for a long time, he asked him, “Would you like to get well?”
“I can’t, sir,” the sick man said, “for I have no one to put me into the pool when the water bubbles up. Someone else always gets there ahead of me.”
Jesus told him, “Stand up, pick up your mat, and walk!”
Instantly, the man was healed! He rolled up his sleeping mat and began walking! But this miracle happened on the Sabbath, so the Jewish leaders objected. They said to the man who was cured, “You can’t work on the Sabbath! The law doesn’t allow you to carry that sleeping mat!”
But he replied, “The man who healed me told me, ‘Pick up your mat and walk.’”
“Who said such a thing as that?” they demanded.
The man didn’t know, for Jesus had disappeared into the crowd. But afterward Jesus found him in the Temple and told him, “Now you are well; so stop sinning, or something even worse may happen to you.” Then the man went and told the Jewish leaders that it was Jesus who had healed him.
This account is found in chapter 5 of the book of John in the Bible.
My heart and mind keep stirring around one word that Jesus said:
Jesus came to this lame man and he continues to this day to come to those who are not able to come to him- for whatever reason- for whatever excuse.
He still comes.
And when he came he asked that lame man one simple question:
“Would you like to get well?”
The lame man did not answer with an immediate, over joyous, “Yes!”
No, that is not how he answered.
Like most of us, like me, when Jesus asked him if he wanted to get well, he responded with an excuse. He blamed his circumstances and the people around him.
But Jesus never asked him, “Why aren’t you well?”
He asked him, “Would you like to get well?”
And honestly, I don’t know that in that man’s heart he truly did want to.
I don’t know if in our own hearts, we truly want to get well.
Because “getting well” requires us to get up and getting well requires us to walk. Getting well requires us to stop the excuses.
And to make sure that this lame man understood this, in truth to make sure you and I knew, Jesus made an appoint to find this lame man once more and tell him.
“Now you are well; so stop sinning, or something even worse may happen to you.”
Stop sinning or something worse may happen to you.
That is what he said.
That is what Jesus said- ever loving, full of compassion, mercy, forgiveness and love- Jesus.
Jesus said stop.
Because love says stop.
Love puts up a big stop sign, throws it up there in our plain view like a “bridge out” sign placed along the side of a road.
Love says stop.
Because love does not want to see us fall.
Are you feeling lame right now?
Do you want to get well?
Do you really?
By the power of God, get up.
By the power of God, walk.
By the power of God, stop.
So that nothing worse may happen to you.
That is what Love said and that is what Love did- and continues to do everyday.
Jesus finds us where we are, gives us the power to change, and warns us to stop.
That, too, is what love does.
Love says stop.