Bread – Lame

January 9, 2015


Readings for Friday, January 9, 2015, designated by the 1979 Book of Common Prayer: Isa. 63:1-5; Rev. 2:18-29; John 5:1-15; Psalms 121,122,123,131,132

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The word “lame” can have a multiple of meanings, particularly in today’s culture. “That’s lame” can be a statement that what was just said is not good, and it can also be used as the beginning of a counter-argument. I am not using the word “lame” as a defense to an argument, but am using it in its classic sense of someone who is hurt and cannot walk well. When a person is hobbling because they dropped a heavy weight on their foot, they are lame. When a person is born with the inability to walk, they are lame.

Today, in our readings in John, we encounter a lame man who has occupied a space beside the Bethesda pool for thirty-eight years. For sure he cannot walk and he may have other handicaps as well, including paralysis or blindness.

Jesus comes alongside that man, asks him if he wants to be healed, and, when he receives a positive response, says to him “Get up, take up your bed, and walk.” Jn. 5:8

Immediately following that statement, Scripture says “And at once the man was healed, and he took up his bed and walked.” Jn. 5:9

So, the question of the day is a chicken and egg question, was the man healed before he obeyed Jesus’ command or did he obey Jesus’ command followed by the healing?

This is not a trivial question. If the man obeyed Christ first, he had no evidence on which to place such obedience. He just obeyed in faith. If, on the other hand he was healed first, maybe he felt better and that became the evidence which encouraged him to obey. Does blessing follow obedience or does obedience follow once we have evidence of blessing?

We are all lame in some respect or another. Me, I am generally terrible at eye-hand coordination and therefore fail at most sports. Others may find themselves lame because of physical or mental disability, economics, hardness of heart caused by being mistreated, or the world’s form of wisdom or education.

We cannot make ourselves saved. We cannot bring ourselves to true healing. We cannot even use our gifts to the fullest.

So, are we going to wait around until God shows us that He exists, until God does the miracle, and then obey; or are we going to obey in faith that He is, He cares, and He will give us what we need to obey? Do we need evidence of God before we will bow our knee, or will we bow our knee first in faith, knowing that the evidence will come in God’s sovereign timing?

Let me a little more specific. You have a $100 in your pocket and you see that your neighbor desperately needs $100. Will you give him the $100 out of obedience to Jesus’ command to love, believing that God will replace that $100 in your pocket at whatever level is needed by you; or will you wait for a sign from God that that is something you should do, only obeying if the sign occurs and is obvious to you?

I will tell you that my bias is to keep the $100 until I see a sign. But that is the “me” disease speaking. I get to judge, based upon my criteria, as to when I have received sufficient evidence to obey God. But this is not the way the kingdom works. Faith results in obedience without evidence, without proof, without pre-condition.

So, in our history lesson today about the lame man, the pool, and Jesus, what came first, obedience or evidence? I think the key to this answer is in Jesus’ question to the man, “Do you want to be healed?” The man answered that question by pointing out the things he had tried to do under his own power to be cured, essentially saying “Yes, I do.” When Jesus said “Get up, take up your bed, and walk,” what decision do you think had already formed in his mind – to obey, “at once.” And as his heart chose to obey Jesus, Jesus provided him the means to be healed and to stand up and walk. The sequence of events is, I believe, that Jesus commanded, the man in his heart obeyed, the man was healed, and the man in his body obeyed.

So where is your heart today? Do you have a heart of obedience to God or a heart of disobedience to God until you are satisfied that obedience is appropriate?

If the reality is the second answer, then we are lame Christians. If, on the other hand, we are obedient in our hearts to God, we will no longer be lame.

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© 2015 GBF

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