You’re Not Coming Back to this Place

by Liz Goodyear-Jones

John 5:1-8

Jesus saw the man lying on his mat by the pool and he put to him this question: “Do you want to be made well?” Isn’t that an amazing question to ask of someone who had been besides this pool known for its healing waters, for 38 years? It’s nothing I would ask on entering someone’s hospital room; yet the question could not be more apt.

Even more interesting is the man’s response. He starts with explanations and stories as to why he hasn’t been healed.

 In the scene from the movie, The Chosen, Jesus very, very gently says, “that’s not what I asked you”. And he says again, “Do you want to be healed?”

 In this moment, the rationalizations and reasons fall away, and this man begins to realize something extraordinary is happening. He nods yes and there is this marvelous moment of looking into each other’s eyes and then the man begins to giggle. Yes. Giggle. For he realized he can feel his legs and he can stand up. He has been made well. One of the disciples then says, “pick up your mat. You’re not coming back to this place.”

We are in the throws of moving. The vicissitudes and variances of this challenge had left me also waiting by the pool of indecision and uncertainty. I too have a story, rationalizations, and reasons. I am 75, in many ways tired and achy, one knee tearing up, living a life of retirement that I never expected. As you probably know retirement is often difficult for a priest and that is true for me. 

I was pretty sure I couldn’t be made well either. So when the Jesus of scripture put the question to me through the Gospel, I looked around and realized I’d been hanging on to what I knew, not what was possible in the unknown country of being 75. Hanging onto stuff, papers, books lots and lots of dishes and memories.

So, I did my version of standing up. I burst into tears, said “I don’t want to be old” and heaved a deep sigh of relief as I rounded the corner into what’s so and found my giggle.


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