“Do you want to be made well?”

I’ve always been struck by Jesus’ question to the man he encountered who had been paralyzed for 38 years. Jesus finds him at the pool called Bethesda and asks him, “Do you want to be made well?” (Today’s gospel, John 5:2-18)

The strange question would seem to elicit one obvious answer – ‘Yes.’ However, this is not what the man responds.

Instead he says, “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.”

Maybe this means what the man wanted was to have someone to help put him into the pool.

Maybe the man simply wanted people not to cut ahead of him.

Thirty-eight years is a really long time. Maybe he couldn’t fathom something as grandiose as being totally healed of his condition.

There are so many interesting aspects to this exchange.

If the man emphatically did not want to have been made well, Jesus surely would have respected his freedom and avoiding healing him.

Does Jesus’ question imply that being made well will also come with a cost and a responsibility, not just added ease or convenience?

And if we are well, then what’s the point of that, anyway?

Do we think health, affluence, security, or comfort are things to which we are entitled?

As Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel says, “For the high standard of living the young people enjoy we must demand in return a high standard of doing, a high standard of thinking.

Once Jesus has made the man well physically, Jesus then exhorts him not to sin, to a higher standard of morality.

If we want to be well we should be prepared for the demands our wellness makes upon us.

Published by Amanda Achtman

What matters to me is living in truth, taking responsibility, creating value & cultivating community.

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