LPNI DevotionMarch 2016


Getting Well


If I dare to contradict Jesus, it seemed the wrong question to ask.

Jesus encounters a man who, after 38 years of locomotive and relational immobility, is in his spot – the place where he has always been.  Stuck.  The scriptures don’t speak of how this man’s paralysis has occurred, only that his life had been invalidated by the surrounding culture.  Most distressing of all, this Sisyphusian tragedy could have been remedied by a simple act of caring kindness: an extra set of hands and legs to carry him down to the disturbed pool where he presumably could find healing for his disability.

Enter the Gentle Healer.  His question is a head scratcher.

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.’  (John 5:6, 7)

Isn’t it obvious what the man wants?  Jesus surely should have known that the man’s greatest need was to be mobile, to perambulate with the rest of the ‘healthy’ culture!  Jesus should have asked, ‘What do you want me to do?’

But he doesn’t.  He digs at the much deeper question of a man who lived in a constant state of paralysis.  What is closest to the man’s heart?  Is it leaping and jumping, walking and running, or is it much closer to the human soul?  I think Jesus asks this specific question to this specific unnamed man because at the heart of all human health is a vibrant sense of being part of the community, whether physically healthy or otherwise.  This man’s greatest wish was to be touched by others, to be carried down to the pool; his physical health notwithstanding, this man desperately wanted others to pay attention to him as a person …

Not as an invalid, and certainly not as an invalidated member of a community.

When Jesus asks you that question, how do you respond?

Are you finding the greatest desire of your heart the next promotion, a new technological toy, a trip to a far side of the planet?  Or, is it something deeper, something that will carry you through the darkest of times?  Do you desperately desire to be carried back into relationship with estranged family or friends?  Do you seek a miraculous mobility in a previously paralyzed relationship?

The question that follows, then, is, “Where do you find healing for broken hearts in broken relationships?”

The man who had been paralyzed was told that healing could be found in an unreachable goal.  Just out of his grasp, just out of walking distance, he’d been told the lie that if he could somehow drag himself down to the pool, everything would be all right.  How many times had he done this in 38 years?  How much rejection had he encountered?  How dark was his soul when it was intimated it was up to him to heal himself?

Then, unannounced, Jesus arrives on the scene and it is no longer the law of dragging-himself-to-the-pool-healing, but God who comes to him with healing in his hands.

God continues to come to all of us reminding us of his continual care for the deepest part of our relational lives.  In his words we find hope and healing.  In his questioning our motivation in life, we find a different perspective.

Reid Matthias, BA, MDiv

Pastor,  Faith Lutheran College,  Plainland, Queensland 4341 Australia