Lenten Meditation: Tuesday, March 21, 2023
“When Jesus saw the man lying there and knew that he had been there a long time, he said to him, ‘Do you want to be made well?” - John 5:6
In today’s gospel, we hear about a man who has been sick for 38 years. Not only has he not received the help he’s needed, but people have just passed him by, stepping over him and ahead of him and generally ignoring his presence. Then he meets Jesus, and three miracles happen in quick succession: Jesus saw the man lying there and knew that he had been there a long time, and he said to him, "Do you want to be made well?” Jesus sees this man, knows him, and speaks to him. He immediately forms a connection with someone who until that moment had been outcast and ignored.
But recognizing this moment as miraculous only serves to make Jesus’ question all the more strange. Does this man want to be made well? Of course he does, he has been sick for so long and has dragged himself to the place famous for its healing powers! But the man’s response to Jesus reveals the same ambivalence and confusion that many of us feel about our own wholeness–instead of simply saying “yes,” the man explains the ways he has been impeded and prevented from making it to the water.
I once heard this story preached using a terrible old joke: A man goes to a psychiatrist and says “Doctor, we don’t know what to do. My brother thinks he’s a chicken!” The doctor wants to know how long this has been going on, and the man says “Oh, about five years.” The doctor is shocked and says, “Five years! Why didn’t you come to see me sooner!” And the man says “Well, we would have, but we needed the eggs.”
To be human is to need the eggs, so to speak. To find ourselves often ambivalent, to want things and not want them at the same time, to drag ourselves to the edge of the healing pool and find a lot of different reasons not to get in. Today, God has no patience for our resistance: “Stand up, take your mat, and walk.”
Today: Where is God getting a bit impatient with you?