Today's Lectionary Text
In Jerusalem near the Sheep Gate in the north city wall is a pool with the Aramaic name Bethsaida. It had five covered porches, and a crowd of people who were sick, blind, lame, and paralyzed sat there. A certain man was there who had been sick for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him lying there, knowing that he had already been there a long time, he asked him, “Do you want to get well?”
The sick man answered him, “Sir, I don’t have anyone who can put me in the water when it is stirred up. When I’m trying to get to it, someone else has gotten in ahead of me.”
Jesus said to him, “Get up! Pick up your mat and walk.”
WWJD – What would Jesus do? It’s a question and popular mantra that I suspect we all know. The point being to make decisions about our actions based on what we THINK Jesus might do in a similar situation. It seems to imply that we need to stop and think through the answer before we act.
It seems to me, though, that we shouldn’t have to stop and think how to answer a question before responding to a situation in a Christ-like manner. We SHOULD know what Jesus would do because the Gospels tell us what he did. When someone needed healing, he healed them – as in the case of the man at the pool called Bethsaida in the quoted passage. In the very next chapter John tells of Jesus feeding masses of hungry people.
The Gospel according to John is filled with stories of Jesus in action. He healed, fed, forgave, and did whatever was needed to show God’s love to the people he encountered – even when it was not within the bounds of Jewish law. Each of the other evangelists reports similar events in Jesus’ ministry. He doesn’t seem to take time to think through his responses to the needs around him. He simply acts.
Now, in a perfect world, those of us who try to live as disciples of Jesus would never need to think about how to respond to situations where we find people in need of help. We don’t live in a perfect world, though. None of us IS Jesus, after all. We hesitate, thinking things through, until we often miss the opportunity to act as disciples. Yet, if we know the stories of Jesus contained in the Gospel, we do know what to do. Look at what is needed – and do what Jesus did.
I do not mean we should attempt to do things for which we are not qualified. What Jesus did, first and foremost, was to love the people he encountered. That is what we can do, as well. I believe that part of loving people means having compassion for their needs – being willing to offer ourselves, our time, perhaps our financial or professional help to meet those needs. Sometimes I do that well – and other times I fail miserably. But I do try, because I do believe it’s not a question of WWJD, but rather a statement of WDJD. (What did Jesus do?)
- Robbie Fall, Retired Elder
Prayer for Reflection
Help me, God of Love, to see the needs around me this day, and respond to those needs as Jesus did. Let me love the people I meet as you love them and offer whatever help I can through that love. Amen.
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