Pathways through Lent

Weekday reflections from St. John’s in the season of Lent.

Tuesday in the Fourth Week of Lent: March 12, 2024

“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 5:6–9)

When I catch up with my bestie from high school, we share our woes, along with joys and some giggles. After my “You’re not going to believe this!” story, I admit that I relish her sympathetic nod or “Oh no, that’s terrible!” An hour on the phone with her usually refreshes me. A recent conversation, however, was different; she told me that she has received a serious diagnosis and will soon have surgery. This news has caused me to reexamine Jesus’s healing miracles.

In today’s passage from John, the sick man sees only obstacles. Jesus seems to ignore his complaints. Rather than smiling and nodding or saying, “That must be hard,” Jesus simply and swiftly heals him. Jesus does this despite no sign of the man’s faith or evidence that he deserves to be healed.

After the two meet in the temple, the formerly sick man reveals that it was Jesus who helped him walk again (on the Sabbath), a disclosure that leads to Jesus’s persecution. The now-healed man seems to be blind to the presence of God.

These verses from John contrast with Luke’s account of a different miracle: Jesus’s healing of ten lepers, in which Jesus says to the one who thanked him, “Get up and go on your way; your faith has made you well.”

So, which is it? Did they need faith to be healed, or not? Today’s passage suggests that regardless of the situation or the consequences, Jesus continues doing the life-giving work of his Father.

Prayer: Merciful God, when we encounter calamities, hurts, and sorrows in others’ lives and our own, let us show compassion. Help us understand that Jesus’s healing is not reserved only for those who “deserve” it. May we bear witness to the power of your unbiased healing, remembering that You are our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Amen.

Elizabeth Morrison
Pathways Contributor

Links to the appointed readings for today