Lenten Devotional Series 2020: Day 28

Where In Your Life Do You Need Healing? by Pastor John

When I lead one of Stone Village’s life groups, I always ask the question, “Where in your life do you need healing?”  It feels like a simple, straightforward question to me; a question most people would be capable of answering with ease. Some participants do answer the question quickly. Others though are clearly unsettled by the question, possibly embarrassed to name those facets of  life in need of healing or perhaps, simply unwilling to reflect upon the brokenness of their life.

Where in your life do you need healing?”

Our story today, is set in Jerusalem, near a pool by the Sheep’s Gate. Lying around the pool are the chronically sick and disabled of the city.  One of those lying by the pool is a man, who has been sick for 38 years. Jesus approaches the man and asks, a simple question, “Do you want to be made well?” You would anticipate, after 38 years of lying on a mat, the man would answer, “YES,” yes I want to be made well, however, the man gives no answer to Jesus’ question.

He does however offer circumstances and excuses, “I have no one to put me in the water. When the water bubbles others get there first.” In short, he avoids answering the direct question Jesus asks, which is not a question about the man’s circumstances at all, but a question about his need, his identity, and his desire for wellness.

Where in your life do you need healing?”

Although I do believe most people would answer Jesus’ simple question with a resounding YES. Yes, I want to be made well! Yes, I want to walk! Yes, I want to move! I also know how easily people can become entombed by their brokenness. Brokenness, in time, can become a comfortable companion; to the point, it feels impossible to image one’s life without it. It becomes impossible to imagine freedom. It becomes impossible to imagine wholeness. It becomes impossible to imagine wellness.

I believe when Jesus looks at the man on his mat, who has been stagnant and languishing by the poolside for 38 years, he sees more than sickness. He sees defeat. He sees resignation. He sees psychological and spiritual stagnation. He sees a man whose hope has dwindled. He sees a man whose imagination has atrophied to such a point that he cannot no longer articulate what he wants for this body or his life – he’s entombed by his identity on that mat.

Where in your life do you need healing?”

You’ll notice Jesus does not heal the man. He also doesn’t help the man into the water. He does though speak words of life and resurrection to the man, “Stand up, take your mat and walk.” It feels reminiscent of Lazarus’ resurrection and Jesus calling Lazarus forth from the tomb. Calling him to new life. Calling him to a new way of being in the world. Calling him from death to life. And like Lazarus, this man’s new life begins when he stands up and begins to walk.

For me, the poignancy of today’s story is that God in Christ wants us to be well. God in Christ wants us to walk again. To thrive again. To live again.  I believe there’s also this desire, on God’s part, for us to want to live. To answer the question, “Do you want to be made well?” and respond with a YES of fierce certainty, for God in Christ can only work with what we offer.

Where in your life do you need healing?” or to quote Jesus, “Do you want to be made well?” The journey to healing and wholeness begins based on how you answer that question.

John 5: 1-9

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 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.

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