8 Jesus said to him, “Stand up, take your mat and walk.” 9 At once the man was made well, and he took up his mat and began to walk.
Today we are meditating on a healing miracle of Jesus which occurred in the Sabbath. Jesus heals a man who had been sick for 38 years during a festival season in Jerusalem. Different names are used in different manuscripts for the pool. In NIV it is Bethsaida and in NRSV it is Bethzatha. One of its meanings is, ‘House of mercy’.
Jesus initiated this healing. Jesus “knew he had been there a long time.”(v.6). Thirty eight years is an extremely long time during the lifespan of humans. Jesus asks him, “Do you want to be made well?”
As per ‘World Report on Disability’ (WHO, 2011) about 15% of world population is disabled. We may face disability temporally or permanently in our life time. Jesus’ question reflects: what is your attitude towards your condition?
Franklin D. Roosevelt, Irving Zola and Stephen W. Hawking are some of the examples who overcame their disability and made valuable contributions in their fields. In the foreword from the above mentioned report, Stephen Hawking says: “Disability need not be an obstacle to success. I have had motor neuron disease for practically all my adult life. Yet it has not prevented me from having a prominent career in astrophysics and a happy family life.”
For a long time this man from the Bible passage lived, unhealed, in the center of world spirituality and in a place called ‘House of Mercy’. The pool was a system of healing.(v.4). But this system was insufficient to heal this man. Jesus empowered him to healing. This leads to controversy and Jesus was rejected for the first time by Jews.
Gail R. O’Day observes this rejection as a rejection of the possibility of new and unprecedented ways of knowing God and ordering the life to faith. Diversity is the rule of God’s creation. We need to accept our own distinctiveness and honor the uniqueness of others.