Memorial Day: not for self but service
Jesus told him, “Stand up, pick up your mat, and walk!” — John 5:8
Prepping for Sunday’s sermon, which takes place over the Memorial Day weekend, I’ve been thinking about military life and how soldiers are trained. To me, Jesus saying, “Stand up, pick up your mat, and walk!” comes across as a 2 or maybe a 3 on the drill sergeant’s volume scale. The emphatic nature of the command is there. You know not to slack on this. You rise, pick up the mat and go.
You may hear this differently, but every time I engage this story, I imagine Jesus being firm, yes, but he isn’t barking this order with a bulging neck and a hoarse, in-your-face tenacity. Okay, he might be a little tough in the moment, but he’s still Jesus.
Military men and women have been barked at, especially as new recruits. Their specific training yields specific results. One of their jobs is to protect a fellow soldier.
What if we pick up our mats and walk, roll, crawl or run not as something we do for ourselves, but for someone else? Like the soldier, what if we do this not for self but in service of others?
This scripture has a built-in ‘us’ and ‘them’ paradigm. As we read this text, we understand it’s a first come first serve world the lame man lives in, and no one has helped him into the healing water.
United, soldiers don’t have the ‘us’ and ‘them’ mentality. As I picture Jesus not using a drill sergeant voice, I also picture what a soldier would do to for someone in need. This sacrificial action may include laying down their life for the wellbeing of someone in need.
As we honor Memorial Day this weekend, let’s remember how many mats were picked up by men and women who gave their lives for the safety and freedom of our nation.
Let’s pick up mats ourselves not for ourselves, but for those we are called to serve.
PRAYER: Lord, use the voice you need to use to train us into service of others. Amen.