The Reading from the Holy Gospel according to St. John 5:1-15
On this the Fourth Sunday of the Pascha (easter) celebration we remember the paralytic who was sick for 38 years. Today’s passage is interesting and it makes us wonder, “what is the point of this story in the middle of our Easter celebrations?”
The Lord was walking near the pool called Bethesda which means house of mercy or house of grace. As the Lord Jesus Christ looked at all those sick people near the pool waiting for healing He paid particular attention to this poor man who was paralyzed for 38 years. He had been near the pool for a long time but was powerless to pull himself into the pool in time to receive the healing which came from an angel which stirred the waters.
The Lord Jesus went up to this man and asked him one simple question. “Do you want to be healed?” Other translations will also say “Do you want to be made whole?”
Each of us is like this man. We are sick in various ways. Some physical and many spiritual illnesses. We can see some physical illnesses but often the spiritual illnesses are hidden. These spiritual illnesses are due to our choices. They are due to lives lived apart from God and His teachings. More than anything this question “Do you want to be healed?” is a question that is meant for each and every person who claims to be a follower of Christ.
We often say to each other, oh I wish I could pray more. I wish I had more time for my family. I wish I could overcome my addictions. I wish I could be a better person. I wish I could have a deeper faith. I wish I could stop swearing or stop being so impatient.
We are always looking for the fruit of healing. Healing results in better relationships with others, better time management, better ability to defeat sin, better everything. But these are not healing, they are by-products, the results of healing. Achieving all of these things is only possible if we have the source of healing. That source is and must be Jesus Christ our creator and giver of life.
“Do you want to be healed?” is a question with meaning for each and every one of us because it reminds us that we are either sick or well. We are either choosing spiritual sickness or we really want to be spiritually healed and restored. This question “Do you want to be healed?” is the way that Jesus Christ asks us what we really want, what is really inside our hearts, what is our deepest desire. Is it a desire for the things of the world, for the pleasures of life, or is it a desire for the merciful healing touch that comes from Jesus.
This story is a reminder that Jesus can change the life of someone who has been sick for a very long time, someone who might be like me or you. It is also a story that encourages each of us to draw near to Jesus Christ through prayer and boldly ask to be healed spiritually, to be made integrated and whole people. We are reminded that by prayer and and living according to the commandments of Jesus Christ we can have everything that God wants for our lives.
This story encourages us with the power of the resurrection not only to save those who are physically dead but those who are paralyzed or spiritually dead through sin. All the fruits of the resurrection become ours when we allow Jesus a place inside our heart, our mind and our life.
May God bless each of us with the power of this resurrection…..and glory be to God forever AMEN.
Originally delivered on May 6, 2012