Sunday, October 3, 2010

Top Ten Questions God Asks Us- Number Eight

The eighth question that God Asks Us is: Do You Want to be Made Well? This question is found in John 5. A man is lying on his mat by the Pool of Bethzatha. Jesus comes in from Bethany to Jerusalem and is about to enter through the Shepherd’s Gate. Now there are Lions on either side of that gate, but it is called the Shepherd’s Gate. If there was a threat to humans and animals they could run through this gate to safety.

Outside the gate were originally two huge pools. The Romans tied the two pools together and built five porches (porticos) over them. They were built to honor the Roman god of healing. So, people would gather about the pools waiting to be healed. The myth said that at certain times an angel would stir the water and the first one in the pool after that would be healed.

Jesus comes to the man lying on his mat who has been sick for 38 years and asks him: “Do you want to be made well?” Now, every time that I hear that question I want to say: “Sure, of course, doesn’t everyone want to be made well?”

And yet, I know that the implication is that maybe we don’t really want to be made well, to be made whole? The change that would come from being made well or the change that would have to be made to get well…might be too much for us.

I imagine that those about the pool are camped out waiting on healing. It reminds me of those who gather in the intensive care waiting room. You’ve seen them. Maybe you’re been a part of them. They bring pillows and blankets, food and drinks. They camp out waiting on the time to see their patient, waiting on the time to see the doctor, waiting on some news, hopefully good news, but any news at all.

They waited at the pool for healing. It was sort of a “culture of the five porticos”. We do the same here. We are promised healing from every corner. Gurus, witch doctors, whoever will make a promise, all get out attention. Just visit the local bookstore. One of the largest sections in the store is the self-help section, God help us. We go to a pool, a porch, a pill, looking, waiting for healing.

Jesus says: “Take up your mat and walk.” Put one foot in front of the other. In response to the man who said: “I have no one to put me in the water; I can’t get there first.”, Jesus says: “I am here; now you have someone to help.”

Now the Greek word here is not the word for “cure”. There is a Greek word for “cure”, but this word is the word for “wholeness.” Of course, our word salvation has its roots in the word for healing. Do you want to be made whole?

She came to me about her marriage. She was in her fifties. Her children were all gone and she was left with her husband. Her husband was a religious man but a brutal man. All her married life she had suffered under his stern criticism and mean language. He never laid a hand on her, good nor bad. In fact, he stopped touching her soon after all her children were born. She lived with his bitterness and anger. I listened as she told me about it.
A few weeks later she told me she had left him. But, she said, “How do I know if I’ve done the right thing.” I said: “How does it feel.” She said: “I feel free…” I said: “Then take your wings and fly; find your voice and sing.” Take up your mat and walk.

What is it that is holding you bondage? Take up your mat…

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Thanks for checking out my blog. I'm new to this, as you can probably see. But, I, like you, have convictions and ideas worth sharing. I hope this will be an opportunity to connect with others who are Christian and/or religious. I am happily United Methodist. I am committed to the basic teachings of our church, and to the compassionate outreach to the world.

I hope these pastoral ponderings will generate something in you that is hopeful.

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About Me

A graduate of Newberry College and Duke University Divinity School.  I have served as a pastor in the United Methodist Church since 1975.

The Sea of Galilee

The Sea of Galilee