Waiting on the Lord

Christ is risen!

This Sunday in the Orthodox Church we hear from the fifth chapter of the Gospel of St. John regarding the miraculous healing of the paralytic at the pool. It can be easy to dismiss this as just another healing in the ministry of Jesus Christ. But if we ever find ourselves in a difficult situation that feels like it will never end, this story is one that can be incredibly encouraging.

This past week I went to Chicago for a clergy convocation and, thankfully, I got to drive up and back with a good priest friend of mine. During our trip as each of us were preparing to preach for Sunday, we talked about this gospel passage and he made the insightful point that the paralytic had been waiting like that for 38 years, which was longer than the Lord’s earthly life.

When Jesus was presented in the temple and met by Simeon, the man by the pool had been paralyzed for nearly five years. When Jesus was 12 years old and remained in Jerusalem for three days teaching in the temple, that paralytic may have been there too. When Jesus began to preach during his three years of ministry, that paralytic was still present, just waiting. Even though the temple in Jerusalem was massive, composed of many different areas, courtyards, and rooms, as often as the Lord was in the temple throughout His life, it is likely that the paralytic noticed Jesus during those 30 plus years, and we know that Jesus noticed him.

At any time, the Lord could have healed this man, but He waited. The Lord waited because He was being obedient to His Father in Heaven. He waited because He was being obedient to His earthly parents. He waited because His time had not yet come. Finally though, after 38 years of waiting the Lord appeared in the temple and came to the paralytic to ask him: “Do you want to be made well?”

Why did the Lord wait so long? The answer lies in the patient response of the paralytic: “Sir, I have no man to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up; but while I am coming, another steps down before me.” He did not respond with sarcasm, or anger, or despair, but rather with the dispassionate response of someone who has surrendered to reality. His response revealed the incredible work that had been accomplished in his soul in those 38 years which granted him meekness. This man’s life and Jesus’ life became united because of his patience and perseverance, so much so that we still read about it today. This man’s 38 years of waiting not only granted stability to his soul, but also became an eternal event in the life of Christ.
As it is an eternal event, this means we can also participate in it: What paralysis do we have within ourselves? Though it may seem like we are just sitting around waiting to be healed, remember that the Lord is also waiting for the appointed time to heal us. While the waiting continues, we can work to surrender to God.


Father Joel is the Priest at Annunciation Orthodox Christian Church [annunciationoca.org] in St. James. Easy to spot around town, the black robe (cassock) that Fr. Joel wears is the uniform of Orthodox clergy which helps to remind him and you of God’s presence and love. He and his wife Tessi moved here in 2014. They have ten children, and feel increasingly grateful to call Phelps County “home!”

Also published in the Phelps County Focus »