I love this re-telling of Jesus healing the paralytic in John 5. It is by author John Eldredge, and appears in his book Desire.
“The shriveled figure lay in the sun like a pile of rags dumped there by accident. It hardly appeared to be human. But those who used the gate to go in and out of Jerusalem recognized him. He was disabled, dropped off there every morning by someone in his family, and picked up again at the end of the day. A rumor was going around that sometimes (no one really knew when) an angel would stir the waters, and the first one in would be healed. Sort of a lottery, if you will. And as with every lottery, the desperate gathered round, hoping for a miracle. It had been so long since anyone had actually spoken to him, he thought the question was meant for someone else. Squinting upward into the sun, he didn’t recognize the figure standing above him. The misshapen man asked the fellow to repeat himself; perhaps he had misheard. Although the voice was kind, the question felt harsh, even cruel. “Do you want to get well?” He sat speechless, blinking into the sun. Slowly, the words seeped into his consciousness, like a voice calling him out of a dream. Do I want to get well? Slowly, like a wheel long rusted, his mind began to turn over. What kind of question is that? Why else would I be lying here? Why else would I have spent every day for the past thirty-eight seasons lying here? He is mocking me. But now that his vision had adjusted to the glare, he could see the inquisitor’s face, his eyes. The face was as kind as the voice he heard. Apparently, the man meant what he said, and he was waiting for an answer. “Do you want to get well? What is it that you want?” It was Jesus who posed the question, so there must be something we’re missing here. He is love incarnate. Why did he ask the paraplegic such an embarrassing question?”
And it does seem an obvious, strange question.
But I think what Jesus is doing here, as John Eldredge draws out in the book – is asking the man to take ownership.
Does he want to get well… or does he want to stay as he is?
Sometimes we’re so accustomed to living a certain way we become stubborn.
We take on the identity of a self-sacrificial mum or a wounded soldier or a perpetual procrastinator…
We become comfortable in our jail cell, so to speak.
We talk so much about our struggles they almost become who we are.
Instead of seeking change or growth, or following our dreams… we maintain the status quo.
Do I want to get ‘well’?
What areas in my life do I really want Jesus to help me with?
May I never stop asking him for his leading in my life; his shaping of my plans.
He is more than able to heal, change, guide, and transform, no matter what situation we’re in…
We are always part of his plan.
But he does want us to ask. To be participators in the process.
When Jesus asks the paralyzed man if he wants to get well, he offers excuses and complaints about his life.
But Jesus simply says: “Get up! Pick up your mat and walk.”
He was cured straight away, and he did just that.
And later, he told other people about what Jesus had done.
Perhaps all God asks of me right now is willingness.
Willingness to trust him with what I have, and follow.
To be open to his calling, even if it’s different to what I had in mind.
Maybe I just need to pick up my mat and walk.
Hi Ali…funny how just today actually moments ago I was having a conversation with my sister about her often saying we need to be washing our robes; and I asked what does that mean to her; as it could be different to many people as to exactly what is entailed. I referred to how we are supposed to pick up our crosses and follow Him; unto paths of righteousness and basically to be trying our best to do whatever it is we need to do in order to follow Jesus. But even on a simple daily human level doing the things we must do to function and live our lives day to day. I went on to say how if we truly take “ownership” and responsibility then we must mean we want to “serve our Father” in heaven doing what He defines as being what He wants for any of us at any given moment to do that will serve His plan and purpose for us, because who else could know better what is the very best thing to do with our lives than Him. I admitted that growing up in a more permissive world than generations not far back before mine I like many peers grew accustomed to doing my own thing at times and maybe even wallowing in the mire of the crooked ways of the world which is very easy to do and fall prey or victim to, if our habits or living routines aren’t in alignment with God’s plan and that following Jesus who tells us “I am the way the truth and the life; no one comes unto the father but through Me the Son,” and our Savior. I went on to say how of course God knows our struggles and how it’s not always easy for every person as some are stronger in their own following of the Lord while others have a haphazard difficult journey. I said it seems not fair or so frustrating but that God’s judgment is “perfect and great” beyond our understanding because He is absolutely perfect, but as beautiful as that is; His mercy is even greater! He will make sure without any doubt that all those who belong with Him in heaven will be there and those that don’t will not be. Like my mom always said He only expects us to try our best, and that varies from person to person but you know if you’re doing your best, so if not then try harder, only then you can say with certainty I know I’m trying my very best! Isn’t that what Jesus was also saying to the handicapped man; that have you thought about whether you are doing your best each day or are you in a rut; and not just best in what you do with your physical body each day lying there like a bag of bones, but also more importantly with your mind and heart, knowing if you are trying each day to learn growing in truth and wisdom; ultimately bringing you closer to the God who is waiting for each of us to decide on our own! The choice is up to each of us to make no matter what our circumstances!
Very great lesson here again Ali, from you the good teacher! Thank you my friend and sister in Christ Jesus.
Thanks so much for writing, Lawrence. Lots there worth pondering – and so true!
Good, good and so glad to hear that all of that went over well and rings true for you! I just went with what came to my mind and heart as I pondered and reflected upon your article! Great stuff Ali and you just carry on you always do so much good one way or another! God bless you and your family way down under, OK! Thanks and love, Lawrence.
Blessings to you, Lawrence.
Blessings also to you, Ali. Always a pleasure and thankful for your good thoughts and perspective! G’day!
I went to make my herbal green tea concoction and realized as I was brewing it another important point comes to mind I left out. That is how I used the word handicapped referring to the man Jesus healed. How to some that isn’t a PC word which to me I say nonsense because PC has taken on a darker more ominous tone these days being used as a political weapon and now is quite negative a term in itself to some people. My point though is; aren’t we all handicapped or suffering from some infirmity and lack? I see myself that way because I know I’m far from perfect and have a checkered past of trial and error or a history to prove that point in spades! But underlying all of it what makes me tick is what meters; do I care and is my heart in the right place, and am I willing to change and learn what it is I must learn to better myself as one of God’s children showing Him I’m not satisfied with the ways of the world and status-quo but rather see tis all as a bad place to be or way to be existing and not loving this world but the life and world to come is what I truly seek! That is the mindset I have to cultivate and allow to blossom within my heart then I know I’m able to do our Father in heaven’s will more fully.
First John 2:15-16 says, “Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them. For everything in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—comes not from the Father but from the world.”
Galatians 1:10 says, “Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ.” According to this verse, we cannot consistently please both God and the world. The desire for popularity is rooted in our old sinful nature. When we give in to it, we are living “according to the flesh” (Romans 8:5, 12).
When we are told not to love the world, the Bible is referring to the world’s corrupt value system. Satan is the god of this world, and he has his own value system contrary to God’s (2 Corinthians 4:4). First John 2:16 details exactly what Satan’s system promotes: the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the boastful pride of life. Every sin imaginable can be summed up in those three evils: envy, adultery, pride, lying, selfishness, and more spring from those three roots.
The world is what we leave when we come to Christ. Isaiah 55:7 says that coming to God involves a forsaking of our own ways and thoughts. John Bunyan, in his book The Pilgrim’s Progress, pictures the believer’s position as having “his eyes lift up to heaven,” holding “the best of books” in his hand, and standing with “the world as cast behind him” (p. 34).
The world often applauds sin. Hollywood encourages us to envy sinners and to foolishly compare ourselves with the “beautiful people” (see Proverbs 23:17). Often the popularity of “stars” is due to their ability to stir in us dissatisfaction with our own lives. Advertisers prey on our natural tendency to love this world, and most marketing campaigns appeal in some way to the lust of the eyes, the lust of the flesh, or the pride of life.
Loving the world means being devoted to the world’s treasures, philosophies, and priorities. God tells His children to set their priorities according to His eternal value system. We are to “seek first” God’s kingdom and righteousness (Matthew 6:33). No one can serve two masters (Matthew 6:24), and we cannot be devoted to both God and the world at the same time. gotquestions.org
I hope all of this which is so much for a comment will be of good value to someone who reads it. I know it helps me to gain a proper perspective.
Caught my typo too late: What makes me tick is what “matters”
This is truly a wonderful post. Thought provoking and in depth, makes the reader think. Keep up the wonderful work you are doing here.
Thanks so much for your encouragement, Julie. God bless you.
You are welcome, it is what we do, encouraging each other, lifting each other up in God’s love. God bless you too.