Sometimes the thought crosses my mind civilization hinges on whether or not I rise in the morning and make my bed. Remnants of a bootstrap rearing inform my thinking on such matters. More than a mindless response, such thoughts honor those who came before me and discovered for themselves wisdom’s stretch across the ages. Sure, challenging that wisdom manifests itself in adolescent slumber, but life eventually unfolds the truth honor is reason enough. Fortune nods to those nodding back.
“Now a certain man was there who had an infirmity thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him lying there and knew that he already had been in that condition a long time, He said to him, ‘Do you want to be made well?’ The sick man answered Him, ‘Sir, I have no man to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up; but while I am coming, another steps down before me.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Rise, take up your bed and walk’” (John 5: 5-8, NKJV).
Life moves me past the literal, historical and allegorical meaning of this story. My years allot me but snippets of first-century culture and meaning. Some things I can accept without much effort. After all, I am a bottom line, let’s get it done, move to the point type of person. Let me suggest Jesus spoke in the story like a man who knows the outcome of what he is saying.
The story conveys the obvious. There also exists practical advice. “Rise,” Jesus said. And rise we must if we are to move past life’s eddies. But rise also means to grow up, to leave behind childish excuses no longer valid for the spiritual journey ahead. Rise implies going somewhere, maybe the outcome Jesus had in mind.
“Take up your bed (1st-century version of make up your bed),” Jesus said. During a christening ceremony in our church, the liturgy includes the words “we will so order our lives after the example of Christ.” More than a recitation, a promise is being made to the child. But it means what it says. We are to order our lives after Christ. It ain’t easy to make up your bed every day. Life ordering takes commitment.
Ephesians 2:10 says, “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.”
The hardest thing to do is turn the clock forward and look backward. In between, we walk. And in walking and running through experiences during the in-between, a bad decision yesterday never prevents a good one today. Redemption evades the sedentary man while a walking man stumbles into its grace.
The man in our story is every man. Unrecorded is his name, occupation and infirmity. If not for his encounter with Jesus, he is lost to history. But Jesus addressed him with a purpose, the same purpose for every man – rise, get up and walk.
And so, I rise.
“Those who have ears to hear, let them hear” (Matthew 11:15, NKJV).