As soon as the guide pointed to the excavated and fenced off hollow and named it, my heart pounded with awe. Pool of Bethesda. While its name meant house of mercy, there was no mercy for the infirm and invalids who waited here beside the Temple. They waited for an angel to ripple the water. They who waited for healing that would not come.
I knew the story of the man on the mat who embraced all the reasons he would never walk away whole and healed. Underdog. Outcast. His only community lined the pool as hopeless as he was.
Until Jesus walked by.
Hadn’t Jesus announced his mission to release the captives? Did it only involve political prisoners? Was not paralysis and blindness, deformity and disease its own prison? Was not this pool for prisoners?
I sat beside the pool and cried. I cried because I knew something of such imprisonment. Our daughter Lisa, who used to skip, run ahead of us in the airport, take off on her own when shopping, read through a book in a week, could no longer see well enough to do any of it by without help. Lots of help.
The story of this pool healing has always captivated me. But sitting beside it, the story played out before me like a movie. There was the man on the mat. There was Jesus standing above him.
Do you want to get well?
Is that all it takes? To want? Then, hear me loud and clear, I want. Not with some anemic wish that evaporates like dew of the morning. I want with desire grown from the painful processes that have tried to bring their healing to Lisa and failed. I want with the ache of hope that lives in the face of all the unpredictability. I want and I will die wanting.
I sat beside the pool of Bethsaida and cried, wanting.
Jesus, Lord of mercy,
If this were the pool where healing happened
I would carry Lisa here,
All 100 pounds of her,
Without excuse or complaint.
No one could stop me.
But healing does not inhabit this pool.
Nor does it hide in my want
No matter how deep or dedicated.
Healing always fills your will.
And you will
And yes, heal.
Jesus of healing mercy,
Fill my want with your will.
Where you will,