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 Beth-zatha, 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. (John 5:1-9 NRSV)
What an incredible gift we have in knowing that one day, in the end, ALL will be well. We will all be made new. We will experience resurrection into a lovelier and more perfect way of being. Until that day, we will have the wounds and weariness, heartaches and headaches, sickness and sadness, griefs and grudges, of here and now.
In the midst of all of these, Jesus comes to give us abundant life. In the midst of all of these, Jesus asks us, “Do you want to be made well?”
I have wrestled so much with this meditation. It’s difficult to comprehend the healing of the lame man, while even now a parent is watching a child die. It’s difficult to consider the gift of “abundant life” while someone is currently suffering incredible injustice or terrible abuse. Does Jesus really intend to give us life abundantly? Does Jesus really ask us, “Do you want to be made well?”
Of course he does. Our earthly sufferings are not the desire or intent of Jesus. In the midst of all the suffering, sickness and sadness, Jesus comes to show us we are not alone; he too, has endured so much pain and sorrow. He understands our struggle more than anyone. So Jesus promises us an incredibly better ending. In the meantime, he helps us to make good of all of our days until that better ending- our glorious eternity together.
My ideas of abundance and healing are far less than what Jesus offers. When Jesus promises us abundant life, he doesn’t mean a life that is free of pain or sorrow or burden. Nobody has that kind of life. The word abundant means bountiful and plentiful. Jesus comes to help us live a life that is full, that is lived as freely and completely as possible, that is embraced for all that it offers, that is filled with the hope that only he can give.
You may have heard how many mystics and contemplatives learn to embrace all of life without judgment. They see that each moment of life has wisdom to offer us. Each moment of life has a hidden gift to uncover, a blessing to glean. Each moment of life can be surrendered to Jesus so that he can help us make good of the situation. I hope to keep growing in this understanding, too.
Being made well is journeying through life with a spirit of trust in the One who loves us more than we can fathom. Healing can come in a variety of ways, and Jesus brings us all of these. Comfort for pain. Consolation for sorrow. Relief for stress. Companionship for loneliness. Guidance for tough times. Wisdom for confusion. Acceptance for the unavoidable. Rest for weariness. Peace for conflict. Resurrection for death. We receive these gifts of healing each time we open ourselves to them, and we share his healing each time we offer these gifts to others.
Our healing comes when we learn to embrace ALL of life, with ALL of Jesus.
Are you talking to ME?
Today Jesus is asking, “Do you want to be made well?
What would you like to bring to Jesus for healing today- any trouble of body, mind, or spirit? Will you be ready to help him do the work? Will you have Jesus reveal new or better ways you can honor your personal temple- body, mind, soul? How might you embrace all of life with a greater awareness of the presence of Christ? Does it help you to know that Jesus understands us and has experienced all that we have? How might you be his healing hands for others?
Do you want to be made well?