“Get Up! Pick Up Your Mat And Walk!(Jn.5:1-15).
The poem, “The blind man and the elephant” by John G. Saxe talks about six blind men of Indostan who in their blindness went to see an elephant so that by touch they could satisfy their minds.
Each of them described the elephant by the part he had touched.
Their various descriptions led to a loud and long disputing.
These last two stanzas, the very last of which I suppose points out his real intention for the poem states:
“And so these men of Indostan, disputed loud and long,
each in his own opinion, exceeding stiff and strong,
Though each was partly in the right, and all were in the wrong!
So, oft in theologic wars, the disputants, I ween,
tread on in utter ignorance, of what each other mean,
and prate about the elephant, not one of them has seen!”
We have either read it heard about this: “An English professor wrote the words, “Woman without her man is nothing” on the blackboard and directed his students to punctuate it correctly.
The men wrote: “Woman, without her man, is nothing.”
The women wrote: “Woman: Without her, man is nothing.”
The right use if punctuation helps to create sense, clarity, and stress in a sentence.
Each theological institution prescribes a recommended version of Bible to the students. This is because some versions over simplify the scriptures to the point of watering down its deeper meanings.
We have long past the era of debate whether the Bible is the undiluted infallible word of God or whether fallible men were inspired by God to write the infallible words in his name.
Besides, hermeneutics, which is the art and science of interpretation helps us with the understanding that we do not approach the scriptures as tabula-rasa. We are not blank slates. We are influenced by where we stand and the part of the elephant we have touched.
Our insistence on the correctness of the description of the elephant being like the part we have touched is taking us back into the errors of the Jews of old. Errors that the Lord Jesus Christ kept correcting and which led to his death.
The Lord Jesus Christ sees an invalid lying at the miraculous pool at Bethesda. He learns that the man had been in this condition for a long time – thirty-eight years. Jesus asks the man, “Do you want to get well?” When the man replies expressing his helplessness and with nobody to help put him in the pool, Jesus tells him: “Get up! Pick up your mat and walk.” The man was instantly cured, and “he picked up his mat and walked.”
Then “wahala” started! This happened on a Sabbath. The Jews said to the man, “It is the Sabbath; the law forbids you to carry your mat.”
The man told them he was following his doctor’s prescription. “The man who made me well said to me, ‘Pick up your mat and walk.'”
He did not even have an idea of who Jesus was. We note that it was neither the man’s faith nor the faith of others that induced Jesus to pronounce the cure. It was simply his compassion as he saw the man’s pitiable condition and heard is sad story!
Jesus knows your condition and his heart goes out to you. Take heart and be of good cheer.
Back to the Sabbath: The law of Moses itself did not actually prohibit the carrying of a mat on the Sabbath. But their traditional interpretation prohibited the carrying of any kind of load on the Sabbath. The strict observances of the Sabbath was like tieing up heavy loads and putting on men’s shoulders, yet not willing to lift even a finger to move them(Mt.23:4). Whereas Jesus the “Burden Bearer says, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light”(Mt.11:28-30).
The Sabbath law may have prohibited the carrying of load, but it was always lawful to do good and safe life; even on the Sabbath. Standers-by should have been joyful to see a man who had been invalid for thirty-eight years walking. Instead, they were keen only to condemn his carrying of a mere mat! What a world! Who cares about your sympathetic condition!
My friend, the Lord Jesus Christ is reaching out to you even now. There is no Sabbath for Christ and his Father. If they have any Sabbath then we shouldn’t expect them to answer on the Sabbath all the prayers that we make on Sabbath days.
The LORD reaches out to us everyday, every time. And to each one of us when he has touched us he says, “See, you are well again. Stop sinning or something worse may happen to you.”
Weekend prayer: Holy Spirit enable me to see and appreciate the good works of Christ even on the Sabbath. Amen!
Have a blessed weekend! Peace be with you!
Rev Babila Fochang.