The Gospel of John 5:1-18
Have you ever been passed over? Have you ever been not good enough, not fast enough or just not enough to be picked? Did the teacher pick someone else? Or a friend didn’t pick you first for their team? Or you didn’t get that job… I think we’ve all been there. It doesn’t feel good. The guy in our story today had been too slow, too sick, for 38 years. Others always got the prize before him. Can you relate to that? But then Jesus came along and picked him. Just him. For no apparent reason, that day was that man’s lucky day.
From the man’s perspective, it started out as any other day. Then, a total stranger came up to him and asked him if he wanted to be healed. Then this guy told him to pick up his mat and walk. He hadn’t walked in 38 years. How ridiculous that command must have sounded to him! Maybe he had just the tiniest shred of hope left. Maybe he was just tired of lying there, watching everyone else getting into that pool before him. Maybe he felt a surge of strength flowing through his body. But he did what Jesus told him to do.
We’d like to be in this man’s spot on that day, wouldn’t we? When we feel like we’re stuck in one place for a long time and can’t seem to get unstuck, it would be so nice for Jesus to come along and just say, “Do you want to get unstuck?” This story gives us hope. Even after 38 years, this man got unstuck. Sometimes we get that lucky break too. God’s grace happens for anyone at any time. There’s nothing you need to do to deserve it. You just receive it and say, “Thank You, God!”
Let’s also look at what happened next.
There was a big problem with what Jesus did. Jesus healed this man on a Sabbath. That was a big no-no to some people in town. They believed that you shouldn’t do anything on a Sabbath. Including helping people. So they decided to give Jesus a hard time about doing the right thing. Sometimes that happens to us too, right? We do something that is good, something that is right, and we get in trouble by the people who make the rules. Like when we help a kid on the playground who is getting picked on but we’re supposed to line up because the bell rang, or stuff like that. Sometimes we do the right thing even when it’s against the rules, and sometimes we get in trouble for that. When that happens, we’re doing just what Jesus did for this crippled man. Not worrying about the rules and doing what is right.
During WWII, the people who were in power, the Nazis, decided that other people, especially Jewish and handicapped people, were not wanted. So they worked towards getting rid of them. That was very wrong. But because they were in power, they made the rules. So, many ordinary people broke the rules and helped these poor people to safety. They did the right thing. But it was very dangerous because the rule makers sometimes found out and then these people would also be in very big trouble. Again, these people did what Jesus did for this crippled man.
Where in our lives do we come across injustice that we can do something about?
Maybe we are being called to identify with Jesus, and not the cripple by the poolside. We might be a miracle in someone else’s life and get them unstuck. Whether that gets us into trouble or not.
We like to identify with the man who was healed – we need healing too.
We are always invited to identify with Jesus – to do good even if it might get us into trouble.
Sometimes we are like the rule makers – not considering all angles, just sticking to what we know the rules say, not acknowledging that rules sometimes get in the way of better things.