John 5:1-17- A Physician’s Position
I’ll be honest. I don’t know how to start out this blog post. By the end of this I imagine I also won’t know how to finish it. Mostly because of stigma and because the mind is complex and because there are so many other podiums to stand on or kneel for right now. So I’m going to start out with a few observations and sneak in a couple of really vulnerable statements that I hope if you read this you just won’t judge me for or alter your opinion of me because:
- As someone who has not witnessed too many healing’s, the Church by in large in the West lacks faith for healing
- With that being said, I’m not exactly sure what determines our measure of faith for healing.
- I believe that mental illnesses and even the mentally disabled can be healed.
- I feel like we live in a culture that places far too much emphasis on a person’s usefulness or worthiness being tied to their quantifiable productivity.
- I have often felt like the stigma and fear associated with admitting that one might struggle with a mental illness or hampered by a mental disability is a huge obstacle to overcome and admitting to this seems like career suicide especially if you are in ministry.
- With that being said, I’ve sabotaged enough ministry opportunities that it’s not worth pretending; I struggle with depression and I struggle to be fully me in Christ and a lot of my cognitive energy is spent trying to dispel negative thoughts or at least avoid dwelling on those negative thoughts while maintaining the Truth that God promises to give us a hope and future in Christ
- In the humblest terms possible, I feel like I’ve gotten pretty good at managing this.
- With that being said, I only manage it well when I am not alone in my thoughts. I manage best when I’m honest with others and know I can call others, and when I rely on God rather than isolate myself.
- Outside of ministry, my current job is the longest job I have ever held for a consecutive amount of time. I hit one year last week, and for anyone who knows me I have been discontent at my job for several months for _____ reasons.
- Nobody owes me anything
- With that being said, I don’t owe the world anything, maybe a few lingering apologies, but I do owe Jesus everything
- When I was 25 years old, I made 6 figures in an industry I had little to no experience in and quit my job because everyday for two months I would either hide behind a trailer or go to a local track to cry for about a half hour every day.
- I saw 2 therapists at age 25 because I was living alone and lost myself.
- My 2 biggest fears are that I won’t find love again and start a family and that the rest of my life is a sentence of penance because I can’t hold things together.
- Those fears are 1) not from God and 2) they are false.
- Hearing others people’s hurts and fears actually opens doors to lasting healing.
- Yo! The world is hurting everywhere; it is literally impossible to tune out the outcry; I’ve been trying to because it overwhelms me but it’s not possible. Do I even need to list the hurts? I won’t, I’ll list the solution- 1. Jesus, 2. Jesus 3. Be someone who loves like and knows they are loved by Jesus
I could go on, but I won’t because I would stop reading beyond that list, and this blog is largely about Scripture, and I’m trying to get through the Gospel of John by the end of 2017. So if you’re still here, John 5 is about a man who is paralyzed sitting by a well who has been an invalid for 38 years. It’s also about Jesus who reads the heart of man and responds to it in ways that glorify God.
Jesus asks an odd question, “Do you want to be healed?” To which I would respond, “Who doesn’t?” (I should add, before I go on, that I have heard stories of people admitting that they do not want to be healed) But the sick man answers by saying, “No one will help me and someone beats me to it.” Rather than just saying yes, he explains why he is not healed, blaming the lack of assistance from others as well as the general rat race for healing that he cannot win.
Jesus doesn’t waste time beyond that and says, “Get up, take up you bed, and walk.” If you did not believe in healing but believed the story, this sounds like Jesus is suggesting this guy has been faking being an invalid for 38 years to obtain pity, and after Jesus calls his bluff the man gets up and changes his tactic.
But that’s not what happened. This man, after 38 years was healed. And the story takes a strange turn because rather than someone being happy for this man’s healing, religious leaders approach him stating that he is breaking the law by carrying his bed.
Imagine that; you gain new traction on your life, transformation after almost 4 decades of laying on a mattress and the first words you encounter are correction for carrying your bed, doing something you were not even physically strong enough to do for almost 40 years.
This man doesn’t even know who healed him until Jesus finds him in the temple. And once Jesus finds him, Jesus says, “See, you are well! Sin no more, that nothing worse may happen to you.” The man responds by telling the Jewish leaders that it was Jesus who healed him. The Jews then persecute Jesus because he acted on the Sabbath.
To the man healed, this story is about his healing and telling the Jews about it hoping they will rejoice in his healing and overlook the carrying of his mat.
To Jesus, this story is about God healing man and the deeper healing that comes with repentance and forgiveness of sin, so we might live wholly unto God.
To the religious leaders, this story is about a man who broke the law at the word of another man who they believed was teaching falsely.
When individuals are powerless without God, refusing to follow him they legislate. And their motive for legislating is to maintain a power dynamic in favor of their establishment. They do this in writing rather than in blood. It is a power over mind rather than body. But the writing is made out to be vague enough that those with the power dynamic can narrate that they themselves act within the confines of legality in order to continue oppression through greed.
The result is to keep the ill still, to keep the poor wanting, to keep glass ceilings in place, to construct a rationale for our prejudices rather than repenting of them. It is illness, it is sickness, it is what Jesus addresses when he says, “You lay heavy burdens on the people that they cannot carry without lifting a finger to relieve them.” It’s what Jesus is addressing when he knows religious leaders who see an invalid of 38 years and have done nothing to relieve him of his sickness.
“You may not owe them anything, you may not even have been the one to wrong them, but you can offer help, you can offer healing, you can offer forgiveness and ask for forgiveness, so why won’t you? Why turn your eye from them? Be there for them. bind wounds; heal with your hands instead of harming.”
Jesus closes in verse 17, “My Father is working until now, and I am working.” As God in the flesh Jesus labors in love for creation, for the person in front of Him. He is addressing the fact that the Sabbath and all the commandments are meant to be gifts as guides for fullness of life not hindrances to our fun. The Sabbath should be the easiest commandment of all. It is literally, do nothing, or more accurately, rest.
After 38 years this mans body found rest; he fulfilled the Sabbath by walking in his healing, and he just so happened to be carrying his bed.