“The proof of spiritual cure, is our rising and walking.
Has Christ healed our spiritual diseases– let us go wherever he sends us,
and take up whatever he lays upon us; and walk before him.” ~Matthew Henry
It was the Feast of Weeks in Jerusalem— a time for celebration, festivities, and great joy. The people of the land had pilgrimaged from both near and far, and the streets of the holy city overflowed with a bustling excitement. The young people danced and waved barley sheaths; songs and laughter filled the air as the first fruits of the harvest were brought in with great joy.
But not all feasted. Not all celebrated, and not all rejoiced.
Yet a few who lay there-especially during this week, were filled with hope and great expectation— These porches were always full, it seemed, but were especially so during the solemn feasts. During such times, those who lay, afflicted, could hear, just a short ways off, the joyful singing and shouting of the throng—serving as a searing reminder of their miserable state.
Now at this time, there lay by the pool,“a certain man who had suffered with a deep-seated and lingering disorder for thirty-eight years.”
Surely in lying here at the water’s edge for so long, he had witnessed countless spirit-stirrings over the years. He knew the power was real. He had seen it; witnessed miracles first-hand. And so–it would seem this man was capable of possessing great faith.
Yet…as time passed, how many others were healed in his stead?
Others came and went from this place. Yet he remained.
Mostly alone now, he lay by the pool, accustomed to life in the shadows of the porches.
Those with despondent eyes and downcast spirits, lifted their faces to attention. Restless souls became more restless still as the Holy One moved among them.
And though their eyes were yet holden to recognize Him, hearts quickened and hope lifted as He passed.
Some who could sit up, straightened slowly.
Those who could see, strained their eyes, and turned their gaze and attention…towards the waters. For surely, this peculiar presence meant that the angel was now approaching the pool!
A few, with tingling expectation, and quivering spirits, began to inch slowly from their places towards the water’s edge…
For the waters themselves were quiet and calm; there was not even a small ripple from the wind—all was still. His fierce gaze pierced the place where he had last seen the waters stir—indeed, this place was only a few feet from him now. And so he watched and waited in stubborn, crippled silence.
Except…a shadow now blocked the light of the sun, and the pool seemed to grow darker for a moment. The man strained and refocused his eyes, never looking away from the waters.
Indeed, the stranger was standing so close that the man could reach out and touch his robes, if he chose.
Irritated at having lost sight of the pool momentarily, the man stretched his neck, craning to see past the stranger, and waiting for him to move on.
Surely he did not think he could come and take up a place here, between me and the waters—indeed not! Ah!—there…finally, he is moving on—but lo! He has moved even closer! See now, how his robes are even touching me! Does he not see me down here? Aack! And how he blocks my sight! Will he not move on? Why does he go on standing here? Who does he think he is?
Yet in the midst of his murmuring, the man’s heart suddenly leaped from deep within, and his spirit began to tremble and quake. Ho! He knew this feeling well!
Indeed, thought he, this was the stirring before THE stirring! Yes, it was time! Here was his chance! If only he could see what was happening!
Groping and groaning, he tried pulling himself to a sitting position, when suddenly, a quiet, but commanding voice interrupted his reeling thoughts—
Fixated now on finding his own way into the pool,an idea formed quickly in his mind…
Ah! Perhaps from his higher vantage point, this stranger could see the waters stirring—yes! Why else would he ask such a question of me unless he has taken pity on me, knowing there is, even now, and opportunity for my healing!
Yes, yes! That’s it! What divine providence! This one has been sent, for this very moment, that I may use him to enter the healing waters! Here, at last, is my chance! And in that moment, frantic thoughts flood his mind.
I must not delay another moment or I will surely miss my chance!
Yet each movement is impossibly painful and difficult. Realizing his worst fears are quickly becoming a reality, the sick man looks up once more at this silent, uncaring stranger, and pleadingly— with desperate tears now spilling from his eyes, confesses—“and while I am trying to get into the water, someone else goes down before me!”
He is ashamed of both his tears and his doubt, and realizing, once again, the futility of his own efforts, he collapses to the ground in defeat.
When, after coming to the end of himself–having abandoned his own plans, and exhausted every objection, this desperate, sick man determined to obey the impossible command of a peculiar stranger whose name he did not know.
(Surely he ran and leaped and danced as well!)
And where did he go from there, we may wonder?
Not surprisingly, we read that a bit later, Jesus found him at the Temple–no doubt, worshipping the Most High God with all of his heart, soul, mind, and strength!
Oh, the self-righteous scoffed and scorned and raged (John 5:10-18) but this man cared not!
He unashamedly took his bedroll with him, as a reminder, and he walked—proving his healing with each step that he took.
“Look,” Jesus had warned him, “You have become well. Do not sin any more, lest anything worse happen to you.”
Friend, a choice lies before you in this place.
Discouraged and weak, you remained, and after a while, you learned how to survive in this place, even becoming proud and strong and self-reliant in your weakness.
Yet pride and fear have kept your lifeless legs from moving on.
Will you remain in this place, burdened with your affliction, too terrified to look away from the stagnant waters where you’ve placed your hope?
Do you believe this to be faith, as you stubbornly rely upon your own plans and limited strength?
Even in your crippled state, are you determined still, to make your own way?
Do you not see?
The Beloved Physician approaches!
He has never been far from you, and never nearer than in this moment.
But He requires first that you turn your eyes away from this place.
The gentle Savior lovingly invites you to trust Him with the impossible.
Are you looking, dear one?
Are you listening?
In the quiet, He challenges you now with this simple question:
Do you want to become well?
He does not ask, “can you?”. He asks, simply,”do you want to?”
He already knows you cannot. He knows the impossibility of what you are facing.
Beloved, He knows!–and it’s why He’s come now.
Will you, in your human pride and knowledge and experience, tell Him, in that moment, that you know better than He, or that the Way He offers is not what you would have chosen or expected?
Will you push Him aside when He offers you healing and hope?
While you sit and wait by the pools for a miracle, He comes and stands now between you and the waters.
Beloved, He is not here to help you into the pool, as you have asked and expected.
He comes to ask that you surrender it.
He will not do it your way. He will do it His way, that you will be unable to boast in it.
The Master waits patiently for your response, before He bids you, “RISE, take up your bed, and WALK.”
If not, cry out to him in your doubt, “Lord, I believe! But help my unbelief!”
But the real proof of your spiritual cure, is in your rising and walking.
Each step declares it.
Through Him alone, true rest is entered.
And from Him alone, new life is given.
If so, confess your doubts and fears, your pride and your utter inability, and trust Him to do the impossible.
Then rise, beloved one–rise and walk before Him!
© Joanna Silveira, 2011