Jesus had gone to Jerusalem for a festival, but instead of going to the temple, or going to celebrate with his friends, he’d gone to a place where vast numbers of people with disabilities—the blind, the lame, and the paralyzed—hung out. There was a pool there whose waters, some believed, had healing properties. Jesus found a man lying there who’d been an invalid for 38 years.
“Do you want to get well?” Jesus asked.
What Jesus said next set off a chain of events that culminated with the crucifixion.
“Get up! Pick up your mat and walk.”
Jesus was ushering in his new creation. But instead of being overjoyed, the people were disturbed. The healing had taken place on the Sabbath, and even worse, Jesus had told the man to pick up his mat. Observant Jew wouldn’t carry anything on the Sabbath.
Now, God himself had commanded the Jews to observe the Sabbath. Jesus could have come back the next day; what’s one more day when you’ve been disabled for 38 years? Instead, he deliberately provoked the controversy.
Jesus was out to deal with a kind of disability that was even more devastating than being blind, lame, or paralyzed:
The legalism of those who appear healthy.