In the Word: Encountering Jesus to Overcome Paralysis [PODCAST]

Urban Cusp in partnership with J Prophet, an independent recording artist, presents “In the Word Wednesdays.” #IWW is a weekly podcast seeking to tap into the transformative power of the Word in culturally relevant ways. J Prophet offers words of hope and Christian inspiration that empower us to meet life’s daily challenges.

Scripture:John 5:1-9 (NIV)
“Some time later, Jesus went up to Jerusalem for one of the Jewish festivals. Now there is in Jerusalem near the Sheep Gate a pool, which in Aramaic is called Bethesda and which is surrounded by five covered colonnades. Here a great number of disabled people used to lie—the blind, the lame, the paralyzed. One who was there had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him lying there and learned that he had been in this condition for a long time, he asked him, “Do you want to get well?” “Sir,” the invalid replied, “I have no one to help me into the pool when the water is stirred. While I am trying to get in, someone else goes down ahead of me.” Then Jesus said to him, “Get up! Pick up your mat and walk.” At once the man was cured; he picked up his mat and walked.”

Even in places where able-bodied persons are regarded as the status quo, we can experience blindness, lameness and paralysis. We can be blinded by our schedules, ambitions, and goals. We can be made lame by inferiority complexes driven by the unbelievably dynamic achievements of those around us. And we can become paralyzed by the pervasive presence of overwhelming injustice in the world, and the seemingly insurmountable odds to combat them. That paralysis can be worsened by the lack of response to our cries, and we can get tempted to just stop because we don’t always see the point of fighting.

The good news from this text, though, is that we can be healed from this paralysis by encountering Jesus. Sometimes we freedom fighters, social justice advocates and prophets get so caught up in our causes and fights that we forget to keep encountering the living God. At our low points, when we can’t see past our busyness; when our faith suffers from paralysis; when we stop moving because moving seems foolish there Jesus is, encouraging us to walk. These encounters spring us up.

In these encounters Jesus also tells us to pick up our mats, which are reminders of our healing encounters with Jesus. We could ask whether carrying our mats would be a cumbersome burden or reminders of our ailing predicaments. But by carrying our mats, we are reminded that because of Jesus we’re not where we used to be. When Jesus tells us to pick up our mats, he’s not only telling us to move from the location of our paralysis, but he’s also telling us not to forget what happened there! Don’t forget the encounter.

In encountering Jesus or remembering moments of healing, I also encourage us to walk. After we spring up and pick up our mats, we’re often energized to do a lot. We’re motivated to, then, go out and really bite off more than we can chew. But I think there’s something significant in Jesus’ call to walk. Not to run. Not to fly. But just to walk. As we go forth to fulfill the tasks set before us, meet deadlines, and fill our calendars, let us not forget our encounters with the living God. These encounters will heal us. Remembering these encounters will restore us. Get up! Pick up your mat! And walk!

Peace & Power,


Rodney "JP" Reynolds is a hip-hop artist and minister from Mt. Vernon, NY. His artistic and written content often reflect a perspective deeply concerned with issues of social justice and existential reality, especially as they relate to matters of faith. He is a graduate of Yale University where he earned his B.A in 2010 and M.Div. in 2013. Visit his website and follow him on Twitter @JProphetPAP.

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