My youngest son, Rory, is 5. He is 100% of all the youngest child stereotypes: artistic, popular, social, manipulative, charming, persistent. He is also the baby of the family. Every night, he is scared of something in his room, he can’t reach anything without his stool, and he is dependent on everyone in the house to meet his basic needs. Buy he does it in the most adorable voice!
I am not known for being sympathetic. When he is scared, though, I may still roll my eyes a little, but I sit with him, and we talk it out and hug a bunch. When he is injured, I am the first one to step up and offer my condolences and affection. If Rory steps on a Lego, I will gladly put a Band-Aid on that tiny red mark. (Even though this is futile, because we all know it’s immediately coming off.) He’s our youngest, and I’m happy to squeeze out the baby years as long as I can. I’m happy to come running at the slightest whimper, because it’s my job, and I am happy to do it.
I have been thinking about this a lot this week in connection to the man that Jesus healed in our scripture from Sunday. As a mom, I am mortified to think that someone’s child was left alone to try and get himself into a spring for healing while others beat him to it over and over again. No one beats me to Rory when he is hurt!
I’ve also been thinking about Jesus in that story, who stood by and watched the crowd of people waiting for the water to be stirred so they could be the first one in there. What did the only true healer think about as he saw people desperate, but not for him? What does he think of me as I sit outside my own Pool of Bethesda? What is my Pool of Bethesda? Likely, it is napping. Turning off the world is my own brand of healing, and often my first stop in the journey. What does he do while we sleep, over indulge, self-medicate, retreat into ourselves, diet or self-improve?
I think he does to us what he did to the paralyzed man who had been waiting 38 years for something to change. He said, “Do you want to be healed?” (John 5:6)
It is such a simple question with an obvious answer. Of course he wanted to be healed! He did not come to the pool of healing for a hamburger. He was waiting for this for 38 years. But Jesus showed him he was at the wrong place. The pool offered nothing compared to Jesus. Why, then, do we keep going back to our own pools, hoping for a healing moment when, all the while, Jesus is standing by, asking us if we want to be healed?
What we find when we look in other places for healing is nothing. It often adds to our pain and our loneliness, causing us to add other “pools”. If my nap didn’t work, then maybe I could just watch these 10 seasons of something on Netflix, because at least then the day would be over and I could maybe move on. All the while Jesus is asking, “Do you want to be healed?”
If Rory tried to doctor himself, I’d say, “Don’t do that, silly boy. I clearly know best, so come here!” Jesus offers us this kind of love, and it’s the only healing that works.
Jesus said to him, “Get up, take up your bed, and walk.” And at once the man was healed, and he took up his bed and walked.
— John 5:8–9