Jesus saw this one lying there, and knew that he had already been much time in that condition, and He said to him, “Dost thou wish to become well?” [Jn. 5:6] We read in the Gospel of John how that on occasion an angel would come and stir the water which on occasion would heal infirmity. That is, if you could be the first one in the water. For 38 years the paralytic struggled and could not reach the healing water!
Jesus then offered this man another way to be healed, a healing by the Great Creator and by the Living Water. Jesus saith to him, “Rise, take up thy bed and be walking.”[Jn. 5:8] Saint Bede writes: “‘Rise’ means shake off the sluggishness of the vices in which you have been ailing for a long time, and rouse yourself to the practice of virtues….‘Rise’ by doing good works.” [Ib., 225.] “‘Take up thy bed’ means lovingly carry your neighbor, patiently tolerating his weaknesses, since he patiently put up with you for a long time when you were weighed down by the burden of temptations. ‘Keep on bearing one another’s burdens, and thus fill up the law of the Christ [Gal. 6:2].’…So leave behind your earlier sins, and come to the aid of your brothers’ needs.” [Ib.] “Go on walking about and keep on walking about.” (peripavtei), “‘Walk’ means to love God with your whole heart, soul and strength [cf. Mk. 12:30], so that you may be worthy to reach the vision of Him. Go forward by making daily strides of good works from virtue to virtue. Do not desert your brother…nor turn aside from the right direction of your path….In everything you do, see to it that you do not fix your mind upon this world, but that you hurry to see the face of your Redeemer.” [Ib.]
Afterward Jesus finds this former paralytic in the temple, and said unto him: “Behold, thou art made whole: sin no more, lest a worse thing come unto thee.” [Jn. 5:14] What kind of worse thing is He who conquered death speaking about? In the wisdom of Saint Chrysostom we hear: “‘What then,’ asks one, ‘do all diseases proceed from sin?’ Not all, but most of them; and some proceed from different kinds of loose living, since gluttony, intemperance, and sloth, produce such like sufferings….Jesus wished to secure this man for the future,…keeping him to health both by the benefit, and by the fear of future ills.” [Hom. 38, P.G. 59:217, 218 (cols. 212, 213).]
You see, the evil one likes to stir the waters in our life, but not for healing. For with his temptations, he wishes us to turn from God in anger and disbelief and become paralyzed from every attempt in seeking the Kingdom of God, truly a death-sentence.
“Dost thou wish to become well? … Behold, thou art made whole: sin no more.” Joy has come unto the world through the cross and death has been conquered by death. There is no salvation apart from Christ! From the Profit Ezekiel: “And it shall be that every living thing that moves, wherever the rivers go, will live. There will be a very great multitude of fish, because these waters go there; for they will be healed, and everything will live wherever the river goes.” (Ezekiel 47:9) Come, won’t you receive the Healing Water and turn from the death-sentence of sin?
Fr. Gabriel Weller 4/29/18