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Lenten Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Friday, May 24, 2019              

Today’s Scripture Reading | 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 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. Now that day was a sabbath. (NRSV)

“Do you want to be made well?”

It seems like there should be an easy and quick answer to this question: an enthusiastic “Yes.”

But that’s not how the man answers. Instead, he explains that he doesn’t have anyone to put him in the healing waters of the pool and that, when he’s tried to get in on his own, others have stepped down into the pool ahead of him. He doesn’t have a support system to help him, and he can’t get into the pool of his own accord, no matter how hard he tries.

Jesus meets the man where is he is. Jesus physically comes to him as he lies paralyzed on his mat, but Jesus also meets him where is spiritually. Jesus knows that this man has been there for a long time, but Jesus asks him if being made well is what he wants. He listens to the man’s story.

Of course, the healing is the miracle of this story. Jesus makes well someone who has been ill for thirty-eight years. That is amazing. But what brings me closer in my relationship with God through this story is not the miracle; it’s that Jesus comes to this person, meets them where they are, and asks what they want. Jesus makes a connection and makes it personal by listening. And that’s what God wants to do for each of us: God wants to hear about our struggles, our hopes, and our wants. God wants to be in conversation with us.

Caring God, you draw us into relationship with you by asking us what we want, and you truly listen to our responses. May we be as honest and forthcoming as the man in this story. Amen.

Written by Katrina Buchanan, Editorial Assistant

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