Today’s Gospel Lectionary reading in the Book of Common Prayer comes from John chapter 5, verses 1-15; I will be focusing on verses 1-9.
Allow me to summarize the lesson for today. The lesson is about a man who is lame and
spends most of his day hanging around this pool in Jerusalem near a sheep gate. Rumor had it that every so often an angel would come down and stir up the waters in the pool,
when his happened whoever got into the pool first would be healed of their aliment. Jesus asks a man near the pool if he would like to be healed. The man responds that he does not have anyone to help him into the pool when the waters are stirred up, and while he is trying to get into the water someone else gets in before him. Jesus then tells
the man, “Stand up, take your mat and walk.” The man does so and Jesus slips way into the crowd. Now some Jews came up to the man while he was walking away carrying his mat, they were upset because it was the Sabbath and he was carrying his mat, because it could be considered work. The man tries to explain that the man who made him well told him to do this. They want know who made the man well, but he does not know. So later Jesus finds the man in the Temple and tells him that he made him well and that he should go and sin no more, unless something worse happens to him. So the man goes away and tells the Jews it was Jesus who healed him.
So the interesting thing about this story is the way that the man responds to Jesus when he asks if he wants to be made well. Instead of just saying, “Yes.” The man makes an excuse for why he is not well or why he cannot get well. Now in his making this excuse we could theorize that he is in some ways either criticizing any family or friends that he might have, because they are not there to help him into the pool when the water is stirred up. Or that he believes he deserves to be healed more than the other people around the pool, because he has no family or friends to help him or he is so bad off that there is no way he can make it into the water. Or perhaps he is afraid to be healed because he is not sure what he will do with himself, or he finds his self-identification in being the lame man. I believe this is the same thing that many of us do in our own life. We want to identify ourselves as something, either positive or negative, and we do not want to let Jesus change us.
I am reminded of a story of C.S. Lewis’ The Great Divorce, in it a man has a dragon attached to him. An angel asks if he would like the dragon removed. The man says that he would but not right now, the angel keeps asking to kill it, and the man continues to make excuses for why now is not a good time. Finally the man allows him to kill it, and he is made free from the bondage of the dragon.
So the question to ask yourself is what aliment are you not letting Jesus heal in your life? Mine was my dyslexia, I held on to it, allowing it to control my feelings about myself, God, and my career goals. It was not until I finally understood that I was holding on to that anger, what I was actually able to let it go. Once I let God, I felt God starting to work in me in a new and powerful way. I finally understood that my holding on to my learning disability was distancing me from God.