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The four dimensions of knowing (3)

Now there is in Jerusalem by the Sheep Gate a pool, in Aramaic called Bethesda, which has five roofed colonnades. In these lay a multitude of invalids—blind, lame, and paralyzed. One man was there who had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him lying there and knew that he had already been there a long time, he said to him, “Do you want to be healed?” The sick man answered him, “Sir, I have no one to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up, and while I am going another steps down before me.” Jesus said to him, “Get up, take up your bed, and walk.” And at once the man was healed, and he took up his bed and walked. [John’s biography of Jesus Christ 5: 2-9 c. AD 30]


Some Jersey folk like to be known as “agnostics.” That noun is not at all nice. It’s origin is a Greek word a-gnostos which means no (the “a”) knowledge (the “gnostos”). To be an agnostic is to claim not to know...... Maybe these folk don’t know the meaning of “I’m a know-nothing”....


Maybe they’ve discovered the “Lived World” around them and they’ve discovered their own “Self”. Maybe they’ve placed their own “Self” in centre position – and that’s it........ Actually, maybe not.......


Maybe the other two dimensions of “knowing” are in fact known by them – but unacknowledged. It’s not at all pleasant to know the third dimension of knowing – the “Void”.  To know the Void is to know personally that there are problems, awful problems, which seemingly cannot be resolved. There are many such Voids to be known. One is sickness. Another is inability - shortfall within. And then there’s wrong within - evil within. The ultimate Void is truly to know – to face up to - the fact of death.


Is there something more to know? More than the Lived World, the Self and the Void? Something that even a-gnostics can know? Yes, there is a fourth dimension (let’s call it the “Holy”) but it can only be discovered, be known, when one is in the Void. It can’t be known if the Void is avoided or denied.


The man in the incident in bold above was in the Void. What was his Void? He was “an invalid” in a kind of hospice. What made this man in-valid? The word used for him and for all the others there (including the blind, lame and paralysed) has the literal meaning – no strength. No strength to live a normal life – for 38 years. And he knew it.


Into this man’s own Void came Jesus. He had a very important question for all who know that they are in the Void. Do you want to be healed?Do you or do you not desire to come out of the Void? How do I, Richard Syvret, react to that question – in my Void? I answer a resounding, “yes!” Do you not, like me, hate the Voids of this world, of this life? And long to escape?


The no-strength-man’s answer is a surprise. Sir, I have no one to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up, and while I am going another steps down before me.In other words he was a victim of competition – even in this “world of the in-valids”. Competition makes invalids of us all. We don’t have the strength always to win. In fact, increasingly, we can’t possibly win in the employment arena in Jersey (for example) where so many strong folk are ahead of me.


Did this strength-less man discover the Holy – the fourth dimension of knowing? His invalidity (his Void) qualified him.


Yes, he did. Jesus said to him, Get up, take up your bed, and walk.Strength enabled him to lift himself and his camp bed. He walked.


The verb which Jesus used to say Get up was egeiro. John the biographer of Jesus uses it several times in this book. One stands out – “This was now the third time that Jesus was revealed to the disciples after he was raised (egeiro) from the dead.” Jesus had asked the man to arise from the Void. He did.


He wanted to escape the Void. Other in-valids with greater strength had, in the past 38 years, beaten him. This time he knew the “Holy” in the “Void”. “… Jesus saw him lying there and knew that he had already been there a long time….”

‘Weakness and pain helped me to study how to die; that set me studying how to live.’ (Richard Baxter, writer and poet, 1615-1691)
 ‘Pain and suffering are not necessarily signs of God’s anger; they may be exactly the opposite.' (John Blanchard)
Richard Syvret

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