Continued Reflection on John 5:1-9
DID I WANT TO BE HEALED? Seriously?
I imagine the man beside the Bethesda pool feels the same way when Jesus asks the question. As if he hasn’t prayed for healing every day for thirty-eight years. As if he hasn’t wished that very thing every hour he lies beside the pool, waiting for the water to stir. As if he hasn’t yelled out in frustration, even anger, each time another person beats him to the water.
Jesus knows this, of course. He knows the man’s story, his pain, his need for healing. Jesus can easily walk over to the man, kneel beside him, speak some healing words, help the man to his feet, and go on about his day. But he doesn’t. Instead, he insists on asking the question, which tells us two things.
First, Jesus will not impose himself on the man and assume he desires healing – with good reason. Jesus understands the man needs to play an active role in his own healing. Think about it. The man has been paralyzed for thirty-eight years. All that time he’s depended on others to carry him places, take care of him, even help him into the pool. We can imagine how this would play on his self-esteem, how over time his identity would change to incorporate a sense of dependence and passiveness. Had Jesus just walked up and healed him, the man would have remained in a passive position. But through his question, Jesus invites the man to become an active participant in his own healing journey. For his sake, the man needs to say, “Yes, I want to be healed “before any real healing will take place.
And that is critical. Because the other reason Jesus asks the question is this: Healing is hard. It takes work. Being healed from paralysis represents only the first step in the man’s journey. Following that, he will have to learn a whole new way of living. Life will no longer be as he has known it; it will be completely different, and he will have to learn to adjust.
– Kristen E. Vincent
Beads of Healing
From pages 21-22 of Beads of Healing: Prayer, Trauma, and Spiritual Wholeness by Kristen E. Vincent. Copyright © 2016 by Kristen E. Vincent. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Upper Room Books. http://bookstore.upperroom.org/ Learn more about or purchase this book.
What do you find difficult about accepting God’s healing in your life? Share your thoughts.
After this there was a festival of the Jews, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem.
Now in Jerusalem by the Sheep Gate there is a pool, called in Hebrew[a] Bethzatha,which has five porticoes. In these lay many invalids—blind, lame, and paralyzed. One man was there who had been ill for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him lying there and knew that he had been there a long time, he said to him, “Do you want to be made well?” 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 making my way, someone else steps down ahead of me.” Jesus said to him, “Stand up, take your mat and walk.” At once the man was made well, and he took up his mat and began to walk.
Now that day was a sabbath.
John 5:1-9, NRSV
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This week we remember: Valentine (February 14).
(Courtesy of Vanderbilt Divinity Library)
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