Daily reflection for the Season of Lent

Tuesday 16th March 2021

Picture: Christ heading the Paralytic by Bartolome Esteban Murillo

Do you want to be healed?

There are certain things that are out with our personal control, that no amount of cajoling or coaxing will solve. Take for example the current Covid 19 pandemic. I can follow the guidance, but ultimately the only way of ensuring my personal safety and the wellbeing of the people around me is to have the vaccine. Which is exactly what I did this afternoon. In this, I was a recipient. I made no contribution to the research and organisation which have it possible. I simply received. I benefited from the skill, hard work and dedication of other people.

Bible Reading

John 5: 1-15

Jesus Heals on the Sabbath
After this there was a feast of the Jews, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem.
Now there is in Jerusalem by the Sheep Gate a pool, in Hebrew called Beth-za′tha, which has five porticoes. In these lay a multitude of invalids, blind, lame, paralyzed. One man was there, who had been ill for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him and knew that he had been lying there a long time, he said to him, “Do you want to be healed?” The sick man answered him, “Sir, I have no man to put me into the pool when the water is troubled, and while I am going another steps down before me.” Jesus said to him, “Rise, take up your pallet, and walk.” And at once the man was healed, and he took up his pallet and walked.
Now that day was the sabbath. So the Jews said to the man who was cured, “It is the sabbath, it is not lawful for you to carry your pallet.” But he answered them, “The man who healed me said to me, ‘Take up your pallet, and walk.’” They asked him, “Who is the man who said to you, ‘Take up your pallet, and walk’?” Now the man who had been healed did not know who it was, for Jesus had withdrawn, as there was a crowd in the place. Afterward, Jesus found him in the temple, and said to him, “See, you are well! Sin no more, that nothing worse befall you.” The man went away and told the Jews that it was Jesus who had healed him. And this was why the Jews persecuted Jesus, because he did this on the sabbath. But Jesus answered them, “My Father is working still, and I am working.” This was why the Jews sought all the more to kill him, because he not only broke the sabbath but also called God his own Father, making himself equal with God.


This is a complicated and troubling passage, especially when Jesus told the healed man to stop sinning, otherwise something worse may befall him! In the original context, it was widely thought that debilitating sickness and disability were the result personal of sin. This misguided and misinformed notion continues to this day. How many times have we or others muttered ‘what have I done to deserve this?’ So what are we to make of Jesus link between the man’s paralysis and sin?
One possible explanation is the response of the paralysed man. Consider carefully the man’s response. Jesus asks him, do you want to be healed? He responds not by seizing the opportunity and saying yes, rather he complains and puts the emphasis on other people. Even after his healing, unlike other people who are cured and leap and sing with joy, he simply picks up his mat and slinks away.

One writer suggests that the key issue here is the sin of surviving on complaining! In other words, he is his own victim, and suffers not just from physical lameness, but lameness of spirit – the inability to make decisions about his own life, but instead looking at the lives of the people around his to gurn and complain. Maybe this is reading a wee bit too much into the story, but there is a deep truth here. It is a warning about allowing listlessness and mediocrity into our lives. And there is a lot of it about.

So do you want to be healed?

Some illnesses can only be helped by skilled medical intervention.
Some illnesses are here to stay – the key issue is learning to cope and manage the condition.
And some illnesses can only be helped by a change of lifestyle and a commitment to regular exercise (Our walking for health and well-being group has restated and the Fitness at Cruden Boot Camp restarts in May).

This is one person's reflection on this passage:

• I can wait all my life for the stirring of the water. How safe it is not to see, not to have to move! No one can blame me for my inaction, because there’s nobody to lift me. When Jesus asks “Do you want to be healed?” I don’t really answer the question. I am not sure. If I were healed I would have to move on from the familiar place in which I have been lying all these years. God, stir my heart! (Anon)

Prayer for Healing

O Lord, you are indeed the healer of all our ills. We bring to you, Lord, our bodies, minds and spirits hurting and broken by the violence, ills, trauma and cares of a world separated from you. Come to us now with your healing powers.
O God, we ask that you heal us. Give us the strength, health, wisdom and knowledge found only through you. Send your life-giving Spirit so that we may live our lives with courage in the profound peace of your love. Come to us now with your healing powers.
Breathe on me, O God, and make me whole.
O God, we ask that you sustain those who seek to alleviate the pain and suffering of this world. Give strength, courage, wisdom and knowledge to all doctors and orderlies, nurses and clerks, psychiatrists, researchers, and all other medical care givers, volunteers and professionals. Send your life-giving Spirit so that their ministries may bring healing and promote health. Come to us now with your healing powers.
Breathe on me, O God, and make me whole.
Be also with those who work to heal the wounds of societies and nations. Guide, protect and strengthen our lawyers and police, chaplains and pastors, healthcare and social workers, politicians, military, diplomats and all others who work for economic and social reform. Send your life-giving Spirit that they may promote your love and grace, bringing healing to those in conflict and stability to those who are vulnerable. Come to us now with your healing powers.
Breathe on me, O God, and make me whole.
God so loved this world and this people that God sent Christ to suffer and die for us. Accept now that gift. Know that you are forgiven, reconciled, accepted and loved.
Breathe on me, O God, and make me whole.

— written by Lisa Frenz


So now we leave this space of reflection
And while so much of the road ahead is uncertain,
the path constantly changing,
we know some things that are as solid and sure
as the ground beneath our feet,
and the sky above our heads.
We know God is love.
We know Christ’s light endures.
We know the Holy Spirit this there,
found in the space between all things,
closer to us than our next breath,
binding us to each other,
until we meet we again,
Go in peace.