In the Western Isles of Scotland, just off the Isle of Mull, there's a small island called the Isle of Erraid. A cousin of mine used to farm it, and my family and I spent happy holidays there. But an interesting fact about Erraid has meaning for all of us. Robert Louis Stevenson mentioned this fact in his book Kidnapped.
In the book, David Balfour, the hero of the tale, was cast away on Erraid, at that time wild and uninhabited. When he saw a boat passing, with two people aboard, he waved frantically, expecting them to rescue him, but they just sailed on. He thought they were pretty heartless. But they knew something he didn't know. The fact is, at low tide the Isle of Erraid is not isolated and cut off. When the tide flows out, you can walk across to the main island on a wide stretch of firm sand.
David Balfour was afraid because of what he thought was true. But his assumed facts were not facts at all. When he understood the true facts he was no longer afraid and no longer a prisoner. The truth made him free.
In the Bible there's an account about a man who had been ill for nearly forty years and couldn't walk. He too was freed through an understanding of the truth. This incident occurred by a pool called Bethesda, where at certain times the water was disturbed, and, according to tradition, the first person into the water was healed of any particular disease.
Christ Jesus spoke to the man, asking him if he wanted to be well. The man said he had no one to help him into the pool when the water was disturbed. Jesus then told him to take up his bed and walk, which he did. He stood up and walked, freed. n1
n1 See John 5:2-9.
What facts did Jesus know that the sick man didn't know? How could a man who had been ill for nearly forty years stand up and walk in a moment?
It could seem impossible. But Jesus has said, ''With God all things are possible.'' n2 Also, ''Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.'' n3
n2 Matthew 19:26.
n3 John 8:32.
What truth did he mean?
From the crippled man's point of view, the truth was the physical facts, and these facts said he couldn't walk. From Jesus' standpoint, the truth was clearly something different.
Didn't the Master see beyond physical impressions, beyond what the five senses report, to the true, spiritual facts? Beyond the limitations of material sense he saw spiritual reality. He discerned men, women, and children as actually spiritual, freeborn, in the likeness of God.
Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, writes of the Master's viewpoint: ''Jesus beheld in Science the perfect man, who appeared to him where sinning mortal man appears to mortals. In this perfect man the Saviour saw God's own likeness, and this correct view of man healed the sick.'' n4
n4 Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, pp. 476-477.
Jesus healed the sick - he liberated people - by understanding the true, spiritual facts of God and man. God is Spirit, as the Bible tells us. He is the one universal Principle, governing every aspect of true being through divine law. Everything in God's universe, including man, reflects the harmony of divine law. By understanding these true facts we gain a new sense of freedom. Fears that would incapacitate us dissolve in a spiritual sense of divine peace. Truth, we learn, liberates.
The man in the Biblical story must have responded to the truth and love Jesus radiated. Like the man on the Scottish island, who realized he wasn't isolated and cut off, the man at Bethesda must have realized he wasn't mentally or spiritually cut off from the healing love of God. His conscious response to the truth that he was spiritually freeborn liberated him, mentally and physically. The truth made him a free man.
For each of us the same truth applies. God's healing love is ever present, right where we are. In reality, we're all spiritually freeborn, never separated from God's love.
That's the Christian message Jesus brought to each of us.
It's the truth.
We just have to respond to it, acknowledge it, accept it. DAILY BIBLE VERSE There is a spirit in man: and the inspiration of the Almighty giveth them understanding. Job 32:8.