After this there was a feast of the Jews, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem.
Now there is in Jerusalem by the Sheep Gate a pool, in Aramaic called Bethesda, which has five roofed colonnades. In these lay a multitude of invalids—blind, lame, and paralyzed. One man was there who had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him lying there and knew that he had already been there a long time, he said to him, “Do you want to be healed?” The sick man answered him, “Sir, I have no one to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up, and while I am going another steps down before me.” Jesus said to him, “Get up, take up your bed, and walk.” And at once the man was healed, and he took up his bed and walked.
Now that day was the Sabbath. So the Jews said to the man who had been healed, “It is the Sabbath, and it is not lawful for you to take up your bed.” But he answered them, “The man who healed me, that man said to me, ‘Take up your bed, and walk.’” They asked him, “Who is the man who said to you, ‘Take up your bed and walk’?” Now the man who had been healed did not know who it was, for Jesus had withdrawn, as there was a crowd in the place. Afterward Jesus found him in the temple and said to him, “See, you are well! Sin no more, that nothing worse may happen to you.” The man went away and told the Jews that it was Jesus who had healed him. And this was why the Jews were persecuting Jesus, because he was doing these things on the Sabbath. But Jesus answered them, “My Father is working until now, and I am working.” John 5:1-17
With our grand daughter here we have spent some time at the beach watching her dig in the sand. We have also watched her as she moves toward the water, testing limits, exhilarated by the wind and the waves. She loves the water, but it can be a dangerous thing and she needs help to venture forth and must be carried into the water and held tightly. She has to wait until we are ready and willing to carry her so that she can frolic safely, grasped tightly in adult arms.
Jesus encounters a man by the Sheep Gate pool. He had been waiting a lifetime for healing, waiting a lifetime by the water for help to get in. Jesus told him to take up his bed and walk, changing his perspective, his need and everything in his life forever. And yet the religious leaders fussed that he had broken the sabbath, and that he was trying to be god-like. Instead Jesus was offering relief and help where it was needed, providing a new life and a way forward for a man who had spent his life waiting. We are invited to seek the strong arms of a loving God, as we have been waiting so long, invited to take up our beds and walk this day. God is with us.
Today I ask God to help me move beyond the anxiety and frustration of waiting and do those thing possible today. May my hands be busy with love's embrace. May my voice be full with praise and kind words and may my heart be open ready to forgive and welcome. May we all see our waiting times as times of soul healing and seeking God. May we take up our beds and walk, ready to do what we can with the time we have. And may we offer strong and loving arms to those who need to be carried, those who need to be lifted and those who have been waiting a life time for love.