Now in Jerusalem by the Sheep Gate there is a pool, called in Hebrew Beth-zatha, which has five porticoes. In these lay many invalids — blind, lame, and paralyzed.  One man was there who had been ill for thirty-eight years.  When Jesus saw him lying there and knew that he had been there a long time, he said to him, “Do you want to be made well?”  The sick man answered him, “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.”  Jesus said to him, “Stand up, take your mat and walk.”  At once the man was made well, and he took up his mat and began to walk.

The questions Jesus asks can be quite terrifying.

“Do you want to be made well?” (v.6)

I don’t know, do I? Or am I more interested in making excuses, like this sick man? As Lent trudges on, am I really listening to Jesus, or am I fixated on what gets in my way: my stubborn reluctance, the dreariness of winter, all of the busy-ness expected of me? Jesus question cuts across all of that:

“Do you want to be made well?” (v.6).

Note that Jesus doesn’t ask us, “Do you want to be well?” or “Do you want to make yourself well?” No, Jesus understands that this healing and wholeness cannot be found with some fresh insight, or renewed energy, or doubled efforts. Jesus is the only one capable of making us well.

Today’s morning prayers at the seminary centered on the beautiful gift of confession as we looked at Psalm 51 together. Rather than rob every excellent highlight (so, the whole 20 minutes) of this morning’s proclamation to beef up my post, I will include only one of the many salient quotes from Jared Ayers:

“The good news is that we are bigger sinners than we thought, and that we have a better Savior than we thought.”

The Lenten journey with Jesus from Galilee to Jerusalem reminds me of the pervasive obstacle of my own sin, but it also promises that his expansive grace extends beyond even the furthest reaches of sin to embrace me and cleanse me and restore me. “What Wondrous Love is This!”