“Do you want to be made well?” John 5:6
In the gospel of John, Jesus asks this question to a man who had been ill for 38 years. This man spent his days next to a pool near one of the city gates in Jerusalem. It was believed that the water of this pool had healing properties that were activated whenever the water began to stir. Because of his infirmity, however, someone always got to the water before this man.
This encounter between Jesus and the man and Jesus’ question to him have caused me to wonder. If Jesus asks us the same question—“Do you want to be made well?”—I wonder what we would say? Well, of course, Jesus. You know I want to be made well. But do we, really? What would happen if Jesus gave us His wellness and wholeness? What changes would we have to implement in our lives? Would our same old day in day out routine continue? Why did the man do the same exact thing every day for 38 years—knowing someone would always beat him to the water—and expect to be healed?
We want the pain, the fear, the anxiety, the hurt, the stress, the “whatever”, to go away, but are we willing to implement the changes necessary to make it happen. Jesus offers wellness to the man at the well in a simple and very direct way. He tells him to “Stand up, take your mat and walk.” John 5:8
Think of what the man could have said. “I’m sick.” “I’m lame.” “I haven’t ever walked.” “I can’t.” All of these responses would have been true. What would we have said? The same, I suspect. But in this gospel, Jesus’ Truth slams up against our truth—BIG T truth and little t truth; our brokenness against His wholeness.
In these last weeks of Lent, I am continually hearing Jesus’ voice calling out to me: “Do you want to be made well?” To be honest, I find myself a bit hesitant in replying. Do I really want His wellness? Do I really want to lay myself out for Him to change and transform me? Do you? Either way, there is a cost. To remain broken will cost us as well as those around us. To be well, to be whole, requires us to change our lives and our relationships.
To be well asks us to let something die. In the gospel, the lame man had to die so the well man—the man who took up his mat and walked away—could live. As we look ahead to Easter, what needs to die so that we can be well and whole? What do we need to give to Jesus so that we can embrace and live into the new life promised to us in the resurrection?
The Rev. Robert T. J. Childers
Church of the Good Shepherd,
Diocese of East Tennessee
Lookout Mountain, Tennessee