Lent Devotions: Get up. Stand up.

March 31, 2017

Editor’s note: This Lent season, Bread Blog is running a series of devotionals written by staff, alumni, and friends of the San Francisco Theological Seminary, which is affiliated with the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A).

By Sam Lundquist

John 5:1-9

Let’s be real here. There’s a lot to be sick about these days. And out of sheer exhaustion, paralysis sometimes comes easy. Blindness, too. Truth is, there’s a little bit of peace in just looking away.

It’s just fine to be there. But not forever.

We live on both sides of the story of the Sabbath healing: the sick and the healer.

At times, we are the weary, the outcast, the angry, the destroyed. We watch the world pass by (perhaps for years or decades, like this man), and wait for our chance. Or wait for our turn in line. Or wait for someone else to do it for us. Or for something to change that will make it all better.

It’s fine to wait. And in this story, Jesus sees that. He honors that and doesn’t judge it. But also asks a question: “Do you want to get well?” 

In other words, “What exactly are you waiting for?”

The man hems and haws saying there is no one to be there with him, and he’s always last. And so Jesus cuts him off as if to say “No, I’m here with you,” and commands him, “Get up. Go.”

That’s the same care, compassion, and command that we can have when we need it. Always.

Other times, we may be the encourager, the empowerer, the champion, the activist. We’ve stood up, we’re walking, and we’re eager to do something. As we seek to be activists—that is, to be lights in whatever way that may be—we have a model in Jesus. We, too, can reach people as they’re hurting, honoring their distress, standing alongside them, inviting them to imagine, and empowering them.

The result? Healing, wellness, freedom.

In the midst of all that’s happening right now in our world, we can do this, too.

Oh, and that little Sabbath thing? Sometimes getting up, standing up might break a few rules. Oops. It seems like that might be just fine :-)

Sam Lundquist is a master of divinity student at San Francisco Theological Seminary.

Truth is, there’s a little bit of peace in just looking away.

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