Daily Office Readings of Saturday of Proper 14: Year 2
“Do you want to be made well?” …”At once the man was made well, and he took up his mat and began to walk.” (John 5:6 and 9)
Often one of the ways we can tell that our priorities are out of order is that we find ourselves watching others and measuring their behavior against our list of what is right and wrong. “Now that day was a Sabbath. So the Jews said to the man who had been cured, “It is the Sabbath; it is not lawful for you to carry your mat.” But he answered them, “The man who made me well said to me, ‘Take up your mat and walk.’” They asked him, “Who is the man who said to you, ‘Take it up and walk’?” Now the man who had been healed did not know who it was, for Jesus had disappeared in the crowd that was there.” (John 5: 9 – 13)
Before we begin, let’s be clear, all the people in this passage are Jews. By “the Jews,” The Evangelist simply means temple authorities. These temple authorities either forgot, or never knew, that the Sabbath was created for people, and not the people for the Sabbath. (Mark 2:27)
Jesus asks the lame man if he even wanted to be made well. This is an important question and it is a universal one. All too often we become comfortable in our weaknesses or disadvantages. Some of the freed Israelites came to a point when they wished they were back in Egypt as slaves rather than in the wilderness following Moses. Some people who suffer from addiction would prefer to be left alone rather than attend AA meetings. Yes, the question of “Do you want to be made well?” is a universal one that we all must deal with. Of course our lame man doesn’t give an immediate “Yes” to the question. Rather, he formulates excuses for why he can’t get to the healing waters. Jesus proves to be superior to the healing waters by just saying “Take up your mat and walk.” Our Lord Jesus is so awesome!
In his defense, the man who was made well, really didn’t know who Jesus was. But the temple authorities felt threatened. They wanted to know who it was that said to him, ‘Take up your mat and walk.’ Note that they were more concerned with the newly healed man carrying his mat than the fact that he was made well. Now these temple authorities could not have done what Jesus did on any day of the week, yet they felt their position threatened. So their response is to hunt down our Lord Jesus who is doing good works in order that they might put him to death. This is so sad.
At some level we all could be made better. We all should look beyond the carrying of the mat (petty) to the thankfulness of being made well. Do you want to be made well? Are you thankful for others being made well regardless of who they are? Don’t answer too quickly. Ponder this.
Let us hear what the Spirit is saying to and through the saints of God and then ponder anew what the Almighty can do. John