Last night the garage door broke. Not such a big deal…except that for the last month everything in our home that had been living on borrowed time has schemed a coordinated retirement party. My hubs, being a pro, has been able to fix nearly everything and so for the most part, there has been no significant losses. But in addition to the creaks and cracks, the month has been filled with bad news, work crisis, sickness, and disappointment. Things have been messy.
It feels like everything we’ve worked hard to nail down in life is being ripped up or torn away. It’s like God has become a curious toddler let loose in the no-no room, disrupting and breaking the untouchable things. I don’t want him rifling through personal treasures and playing fancy-free with family heirlooms.
I’ve walked into my own life to find everything upset; shelves cleared, tables overturned, papers swirling.
John 5 tells the story of paralyzed man—physically and spiritually—for thirty-eight years. He’d come to accept that his life was going to stay nailed down on a mat, where there’s nobody to help and while everyone else gets ahead, he stays put (Jn. 5:7). It’s the life he knows best and he’s grown comfortable with it, even if it’s not going anywhere.
We all know how the story goes…Jesus shows up, sees him and knows how long he’s been there waiting for who knows what and tells him to pick up his mat and walk. I imagine there’s a bit of an uproar. Maybe other invalids begin shouting, “Me too! Me too! See me! Do you know how long I’ve been here? I want to get well too!” The Jews arrive next to survey the scene. After all, there’s some guy messing around with the Sabbath. Working. Telling others to carry mats. Someone is getting spunky in the no-no room.
I’ve learned enough about the Sabbath of the Second Temple period to know that there is more to this scene than what first meets the eye. Sabbath had become more to the Jews than just a command of God (Ex. 20:8-11) and a reminder of God’s provision (Deut. 5:15). It was also a symbol of Israel’s national identity and aspiration. It held in its heart of hearts the hope for a revolution that would bring God’s chosen people freedom from Rome.
If Jesus is messing with the Sabbath traditions, is he someone who can be trusted as a leader of the revolution? And if he becomes the leader, where does that leave us? Questions of authority are on the minds of the Jewish leaders. He’s already caused a scene in the temple, now this. Who does this guy think he is?
Who does he think he is? It’s the question on my mind too as I find Jesus messing with nearly everything in my life. He’s making a mess I don’t want to look at. He’s making me uncomfortable with the prospect of change. He’s challenging me to let go of having rooms in my life where things can’t be touched. He’s reminding me that he’s the One who gets to say what’s a no-no. He’s refusing to let things remain in my life that would be there if he wasn’t. He’s leading a revolution in my life and forcing me to answer who I really believe he is.
Revolutions—big changes to a way of life—always sound good when they are contemplated on a mat that never goes anywhere. It’s a whole other story when the Great Revolutionist says, “Get off that mat and follow me. Stop sitting around in the same place day after day. Let’s go make a beautiful mess of the no-no room.”