The dude was sick for 38 years.

38 years.

Most of you reading this haven’t even lived that long, and if you have, it’s the better part of your life. As in somewhere from 50 to 90%

And Jesus healed him.

John 5 tells us the story. The guy was there for 38 years. Trying to get the pool that was known for the occasional stirring of its waters that would heal people.

Back up. Take it in. This man held on for thirty. Eight. Years.

Most of us give up on things after 5 minutes.

So he was there for a while, and people knew him. I’m sure the religious leaders knew him. After all, how many people are in the same place every day for 38 years? Do you notice the newspaper guy on the same corner each time you go to work or the store? Maybe he’s got a cane, or a limp… You know the guy.

So re’s recognizable. And he’s healed by Jesus, and of course Jesus does it by simply telling him to pick up his mat and walk.

He does as Jesus commands, and carries his mat into the city proper, and of course the Pharisees see him. Can you picture the scene? This man who everyone knows, suddenly doing something that an hour ago he literally couldn’t do, and then carries his belongings into town on top of it.

Everyone notices.

But there’s a problem. It’s the Sabbath, the day to stop, to rest. Rules were set in place so people would honor the day of rest after God’s 6 days of creation.


The Pharisees went to so much trouble as to create 35 categories of work to define what people could and couldn’t do on the sabbath, and what this healed man is doing isn’t approved.

They didn’t see the miracle. Rather, they didn’t like that the miracle didn’t happen on their terms. They became so dependent on their system, that they forgot the reason for the rules. They overused discipline and forgot about the needs of people.

To avoid becoming undisciplined in one direction, or unmerciful in the other, there are 2 simple things to remember.

1. Rules are for you. They are meant to be born out of a holy relationship with God.

2. Mercy is for others. It is meant to take the weight of “being a better person” off your shoulders and place it on an awareness of others’ needs.


We have to live in the gray area. We can’t be black or white. Serving people means venturing from the safety of your fortress and wading through the rapids of messy life.


Now stop reading and go serve someone.


Maybe your spouse.


Love, the RYM Team