"When Jesus saw him lie, and knew that he had been now a long time in that case, he saith unto him, Wilt thou be made whole? (7) The impotent man answered him, Sir, I have no man, when the water is troubled, to put me into the pool: but while I am coming, another steppeth down before me. (8) Jesus saith unto him, Rise, take up thy bed, and walk." [John 5:6-8]
CHRIST IS RISEN!
This story is read on the 4th Sunday of Pascha.
Christianity is to make one whole. Baptism is for all men, not just for one man, at one time in the season.
And the man said to Christ, when Christ said, "wilt thou be made whole?" he said, 'I have nobody to help me." And he was looking at the Man who would help him; he was looking at the God-man who would help him, and he didn't know who He was yet.
Christ asks us this question continually. "Wilt thou be made whole?" And for the most part we answer him with a resounding "No." To some extent we've answered "yes"; we've come to the waters of baptism, we make an effort to fast, to come to the services - sometimes, unfortunately, a very poor effort to come to the services and I must mention that again. Don't lose your zeal; some of you are in very great danger of losing your zeal.
We make our small efforts, so yes indeed we say, to some extent,
"Yes, I want to be made whole, O Lord!"
But for the most part we say,
"No, I don't want to give up what I'm doing; I don't want to give up the sweetness of sin, or the sweetness of complaining, or the sweetness of excuses."
They're so sweet, aren't they? But they cover up bitter, bitter poison. So we must answer this question completely and totally,
"Yes, I want to be made whole!
“I want to be cleansed of all my sins, and I don't blame Thee, the Lord, or my friends, or my family, or anyone else for my sins and for my afflictions; they are mine and mine alone, and they are my fault. But Thou canst heal it; Thou art the man that can bring me into the water and can refresh me."
He is the One. We don't fully recognize that, either - oh, we believe it with our minds, with our lips, but if we really believed it we'd make much greater effort in living the Christian life.
And another thing jumps out, when Christ said:
"Behold, thou art made whole; sin no more."
Christianity is a constant process of becoming whole, but it involved two free wills - God's, who is perfectly free, and ours, which should be free but has become enslaved to passions and lusts and corruptible things. But we were made to be free. It was our purpose. God made us to have perfect freedom. You know the Gospel of John where it says: "he will go in and out and find pasture"? The sheep, being able to go in and out, go wherever they wish, perfect freedom, but freedom in godliness, freedom in purity, freedom in perfection.
This is the purpose of our life - perfect freedom!
So we have to answer Christ, when He asks us the question "wilt thou be made whole?", "Yes!" And any portion which answers "no" we must confess with bitter tears.
Stop making excuses for yourself. Don't make excuses for not being able to say your prayers, for not being able to come to church, for not being able to come to confession, for not doing this, for not doing that, for this reason, for that reason, for why you do this and why you do that. You know it’s all a lie. I know it is a lie in my own life, so I strive to be honest concerning these things also. It's a lie.
And every time you make an excuse, you are saying "NO." You're saying "I don't want to be made whole. I like laying in the gutter, I like laying in filth. I like wallowing in my sins."
Don't allow yourself to do this. That's why the church has an order. This order is not rules and regulations, it is for our benefit. That's why I must speak of it over and over, and especially during this season, because during this season is the most likely time for a person to fall away. Part of that is because God has given us such great grace on Pascha, and we hardly accepted it; we accepted a few things, we accepted some of the sweet meats, but we didn't accept and take into ourselves the resurrection. We couldn't bear it and so, because of unthankfulness, we're starting to fall away. I don't really know anybody who is honest who doesn't say that this happens to them during the Paschal season. It happens to me, but I struggle against it.
So I beseech you, my brothers and sisters, struggle against this; don't make excuses, don't let your life be in the way of eternal life. Don't let your temporal life impair you, don't make excuses, don't say NO.
Priest Seraphim Holland 2013 St Nicholas Russian Orthodox Church, McKinney, Texas
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Our parish is being encouraged to read the Gospel
of John during the Pentecostarion period. If we read 1/2 chapter a day plus the
remainder (about 2 chapters) the day before Ascension, we will finish in forty
This small essay is a prayerful meditation on some part of the "assigned" reading. REMEMBER - read the scripture to apply it to yourself. This is all important. There may be parts you do not understand, but there will always be something that touches your heart if you read it prayerfully.
If you have comments about this verse or another in this selection (John 5:1-15), please add them in the comments, or email them to me.