Scripture: John 5:5-6 (NIV)
5 Beside the pool was a man who had been sick for thirty-eight years. 6 When Jesus saw the man and realized that he had been crippled for a long time, he asked him, “Do you want to be healed?”
This story of the paralytic man who laid helpless by the pool of Bethesda is quite familiar to us. According to local legend, angels came periodically and stirred the water, and whoever dove in first received miraculous healing. What is not stated in the story is whether the pool was actually miraculous. Nevertheless, this man, and many sick, blind, lame, and crippled would annually go to this pool to be healed.
The man was standing face-to-face with Jesus, who asked him a life-changing question. The man was not sure if he wanted to be healed in the manner that Jesus offered. Instead of answering yes, the paralytic man gave reasons for why he could not get into the pool first.
Traditionally, Christians have applied this passage to physical, emotional and spiritual ailments. Rarely, if ever, do we apply this passage concerning the need for racial healing. But we should! Our country’s history of racial division has been in existence since its formation. What is more, the Lord instructs us that we have been given the ministry of reconciliation, so we have the tools to be healed. Unfortunately, just like that paralytic man, we give reasons for why our attempts to be racially healed has not worked.
We have relied on easy answers. We have prayed and asked God to heal us, to strengthen us, and to free us of our “racial” infirmities. But are we truly willing to be healed? Are we ready to let go of the old ways of being healed and give Jesus access to those scabbed, wounded places? If so, it means allowing blood to flow into places long paralyzed. It will hurt. It won’t be easy. It means we have to get up and walk.
- Have you ever read Jesus’ words, “Do you want to be healed?” as a collective question? Have you read this question through the lens of our nation healing from the wounds of racial injustices? Write out what thoughts come to mind.
- How can you be invested in the work of racial reconciliation alongside of Jesus? Take some time to pray, confess, and repent. Ask Jesus to renew your eyes and strengthen your heart to be a part of the work of racial reconciliation in our world today.
Soul Care Practice
Become aware of God’s loving presence and imagine Jesus saying these words to you: “Do you want to be healed?” Talk with Jesus about any thoughts, reflections, challenges, and emotions that come up within you. How can you embody these words and follow Christ in your home, neighborhood, and workplace?
Read Jesus’ words again slowly: “Do you want to be healed?” How did these words shape and guide you today? Pray your thoughts, desires, needs, struggles, and joys from today. As you go to bed, rest in God’s presence.
“The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face shine on you and be gracious to you; the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace.” (Numbers 6:24-26)
Written by John Williams, Director of the Fellowship Center for Racial Reconciliation