Recently I was reading through John chapter 5 for no other reason than I just felt a little nudge to turn there. I read the story of a man who had some sort of illness or infirmity that left him suffering most of his life. Poor and unable to walk Jesus asks him if he wanted to get well. The man goes on to explain that he has no means to make this happen. The implication here is YES OF COURSE HE WANTS TO BE WELL.
Jesus tells him to pick up his mat that he was forced to live on and walk. And as all good Jesus stories go, the man did what he was told and he was healed. The rest of the chapter went on to describe how the religious leaders complained about what Jesus did because he did it on a day that was forbidden to work. They kept trying to find more reasons to persecute Jesus.
Well that was a nice story God but is there something more You wanted me to understand? I prayed. I read it again. I prayed again.
I began to wrestle with the religious leaders. They irritated me. Why couldn’t they see the good things Jesus had done, the miraculous and spectacular. How blind!
But suddenly I felt as if blinders had fallen off of me when something deeper dawned on me. There is always a story within a story when it comes to Jesus! The man who was not well at the start of the story, he is the main character in this scene. I realized that Jesus told him to do something that was religiously forbidden. It was socially and culturally unacceptable and he was sure to get caught. To pick up your mat (the sick bed of the poor in that day) and walk around with it was way out of line. And yet Jesus told the man to do just this. And he did!
I think part of Jesus point was to reveal to the religious leaders that their “laws” were not of God and that Jesus had authority to do whatever God told Him to.
But the big thing to me was that Jesus asked the man to do something that others would criticize or maybe even punish him for on some level.
Jesus asks us to dare to be different. Yes, even different than our typical, expected “Church” behavior and deeds. I’m so pitifully a rule follower.
This rocked my thoughts today as I wonder how easily I fall in line with the expected? Do I express my unabashed need and desire and then wait around long enough to listen to Jesus daring response?