Tuesday of the Fourth Week of Lent – ‘Do you want to be well?’
In today’s Gospel, we hear of Jesus going up to Jerusalem and stopping at the pool of Bethesda, near the Sheep Gate. The pool must have been an affecting sight; within its porticoes, “lay a large number of ill, blind, lame, and crippled.” It would seem to have been a forlorn place, full of pain and despair. In the midst of this suffering Jesus pauses and speaks to a man lying there, “who had been ill for thirty-eight years.” The question our Lord asks is as remarkable as the events which follow it; “he said to him, ‘Do you want to be well?’”
‘Do you want to be well?’ It would seem an unnecessary question, after all why wouldn’t the man wish to be healed? However, Jesus never asks unnecessary questions. He wants to see within this man a true desire to be cured; some affirmation of a desire to rise up and walk in a world which is full uncertainty, perhaps greater uncertainty than he feels at the poolside. Our Lord will not force upon this man wellness of being, if he shows no interest in attaining it. Within this man, however, there is a glimmer of desire, and though obviously weighed down by years neglect, he confirms his wish to be healed.
As Jesus was present to this man, so He is now present to each of us. He alone sees all that we do and earnestly desires us to be perfected. “He chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him”(Ephesians 1:4). What is needed is our desire to be such. Our Lord poses the same question to each of us daily; do you want to be healed? Perhaps we are comfortable in our sins? Perhaps we too have sat long at the poolside and grown accustomed to our old ways? Perhaps we feel that we cannot change, even with God’s grace, or are just too frightened of what such change may bring? It is not unusual to feel such things, but we must never despair of ourselves or others. We must never feel afraid to open ourselves to God’s grace, and we must allow ourselves to be transformed into the sons and daughters of God that He earnestly desires us to be. Christ asks us a very straightforward question; in this season of repentance and conversion, let us trust in Him and answer in the affirmative.