(re)defining healing

One of the passages in the gospel of John that has always struck me is the lame man at the Pool of Bethesda in John 5. In it, Jesus asks a crippled man who has been hoping for healing for a long time if he wants to be well. What the man doesn’t realize is that Healing himself (capital-H) is standing right in front of him.

I often feel challenged, especially when I see ways I myself want to be healed, when I read this story. I say “I know what I’ll look like when I’m healed”. And I want that. I want a result.

But Jesus offers relationship. For Jesus, healing came as people followed him. In John 5, the result the man was hoping for (legs fixed) was just the surface of all Jesus wanted to do in this man’s life. The truth was that the man had gotten accustomed to being needy. Complaining had become his friend. And Jesus wanted far more than just fixed legs for the man. He wanted to give him new identity. New purpose. A new way of relating to people — all things I’m sure the man had no idea he needed.

I think I’m like that man a lot. I have my certain “broken legs” I’d like fixed. I want to procrastinate less. I wish I had better relationships with peers. And too often, I seek after those things, those results, rather than seeking after Jesus himself. We must learn that the healing Jesus desires for us is not just deeper than anything we already want for ourselves, but that it also only comes in following Jesus as a disciple, fully obeying him, and responding to the relationship he initiates with us.

by Steve Marks, InterVarsity staff at USC

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