The cover art for this issue is an illustration — art created to tell a story. Artist Jeff Preston created this illustration digitally using a handheld computer pen. The clean, sharp lines and shades of color create the look of a photograph.
John 5:1-9 tells the story of Jesus going to the pool of Bethesda near the Sheep Gate in Jerusalem. Persons suffering all types of afflictions gathered around the pool waiting for the calm waters to be stirred. They believed that a divine spirit stirred the waters and that the first person to enter the pool would be healed.
In the story, Jesus approached a man known to have lain there for many years. The artist places the man between the columns of one of the pool’s porticoes, propped up on his right elbow. The man strokes his beard and looks pensively at Jesus. Jesus is focused entirely on the man, and his robe touches the man’s arm. Jesus’ right hand reaches toward him asking, “Do you want to be made well?” (v. 6, NRSV). The man responds to Jesus’ question with excuses. It makes me wonder why he doesn’t immediately say, “Yes, I want to be healed!” But then I imagine lying there for years with no one to help me into the pool. If a stranger had come along and spoken to me directly, the encounter would be so unexpected that I too might have given excuses!
When Jesus invites the man to “stand up, take your mat and walk,” he accepts Jesus’ invitation. And look at the difference it made in the man’s life. Today, Jesus might be extending to us an invitation unique to our circumstances and experiences. How will we respond?
Cover art courtesy of Jeff Preston. © 2014 United Methodist Publishing House. No prints of cover art available from Upper Room Ministries®.
I could not have found The Upper Room Moments of Prayer (on Facebook Live) sooner. For it is during these moments of centering spiritual practices, meditating on the words of scripture, praying with and for the world, that I find moments of transcendence, hear whispers of peace and hope, see glimpses of truth and justice, behold visions of love and beauty amid all the stark realities that are around me.”