I read about a Jesus who ignored a woman and then called her daughter a dog. A Jesus got angry; who cried. A Jesus, who in the 5th chapter of John, asks a weird and unexpected question. So Jesus comes across a man who has been crippled for a long, long time. This man has been trying to get into a pool that is said to have healing properties but has never made it in. Day after day, month after month, year after year this man has tried to receive healing with no avail. And to this man, Christ asks, “Do you want to be well?” This seems such an inappropriate question and I probably would have answered in some heavily sarcastic way. But the man takes another route. He doesn’t answer the question at all. He answers the question of why he hasn’t been healed. He gives Jesus the reasons and excuses of why he is in the predicament.
The man had set all his hopes and dreams on his way of healing. On the way he thought it should be done. And it is here that John once again differs from the other Gospels. In the others we find Jesus encountering people of tremendous faith, the centurion, the woman with the demon possessed daughter, the women with issue of blood. And we see Jesus commend their faith and grant their prayer. But we don’t seem to be finding that so much in John. Right before the man at the pool, Jesus had healed without seeing the faith of the people first. In fact, it was only after they saw the sign and wonder that they started to believe.
We don’t have any evidence that the man at the pool believed Jesus could heal him. But Jesus does it anyway. And it’s impressive to me that Jesus did it in a way that was totally different from what the man had in mind. How often do we think we know exactly how it is that we need to be healed? How often does the Jesus want to do differ from our expectations?
It’s also worth noting what happened after all this occurred. When the man went to celebrate his healing in the temple, the religious leaders were more concerned with a supposed violation of Sabbath law than they were amazed and overjoyed by the healing. Sometimes, and I know this might be hard to believe, even ministers, preachers, and pastors have a different a view and way of doing things than the way God wants them done. I know, crazy, right?
One last unexpected statement before we finish. It is so odd to me that when the man ran across Jesus again, Christ made the point to tell him not to sin again or something worse could happen to him. What a weird thing to go out on. Why would he tell him that? I think John is setting up a theme in this Gospel. It seems to me that John is speaking about both the spiritual and the physical aspects of our lives, telling us that they are both important. It appears that Jesus healed the man physically but still had questions about his spirituality. Now that his body was mended, what was he doing with his relationships? How was his relationship with God, with others and with himself? I suppose that we can be healthy in one area and unhealthy in another. Our physical and spiritual states are not always traveling in the same direction. It matters who we have our faith in and it matters how that faith is played out in our lives. I bet John comes back to this a few times during his Gospel. Just a guess.