The Lord has punished me severely, but He did not give me over to death. Psalm 118: 18. 

One man was there who had been ill for thirty-eight years. Jesus said to him. “Stand up, take your mattress and walk. ” At once the man was made well, and he took up his mat and began to walk. John. 5: 5., 8-9.

Thirty-eight years – that’s a very long time. What were you doing  in 1986? Try to imagine having a chronic crippling illness, like the man referred to in John, for that long with no medical cures available. He appears to have lost hope of ever getting better. Each day he goes to a pool near the temple where healing could happen. Apparently the pool would bubble, and whoever got there first would be healed.

In verses 6 and 7 Jesus sees the man, asks how long he has been there, and then asks him if “he wants to be healed.” First, we might think of course he does. But he has been waiting so long that perhaps he doesn’t even think of being healed, or of walking,  anymore. Or, with his invalid status, he can earn money begging. So his answer is he can’t get to the pool as he has no one to carry him.

All his attention is focused on this pool, something he can see, a pool that everyone thinks can bring healing. He doesn’t notice the healer standing right next to him. Jesus doesn’t ask him to believe in Him, or to ask for healing or repent of his sins. Jesus simply heals him telling him to get up and carry his mat and walk. After not walking for 4 decades, that is remarkable. He does get up, walks off carrying his mat, on the Sabbath (that’s a no-no). Jesus gets in some trouble, good trouble, for healing on the Sabbath and for having the man do this work of carrying the mat. No matter, Jesus is here with us, even when we don’t notice, ready to heal us and be with us through our struggles.

Great Physician, thank you for your gentle care. Like the man who was ill for so many years, we too have struggles and obstacles to overcome. It continues to amaze us just how special we are to you. You always find a way to heal us or set us free. May we be always mindful of the power of your love and be grateful. In Jesus’ name, we pray. Amen.

Chris Gabel