“Art thou desiring to be made whole?” can be taken as a fundamental question of Christ to men. “Fear not she shall be made whole,” is addressed not to one solitary case of need; it is the message of the gospel to everybody. Christ is always concerned to quiet strained nerves, to allay fear, to remove prejudice and suspicion, fret and worry, strain and anxiety. But he also goes farther. He regards health of body and buoyancy of spirit as the true normal condition of life, and he called men to a way of living which produced these results. Pythagoras taught the novel idea, many centuries before, that the various elements of the body could, through the attitude and disposition of the mind, be put into such relation or balance with one another that the body in its right form would reveal a harmony, like that of the musical scale, or even like that of the harmony of the planetary spheres. It is from this theory that we get our word tonic as that which puts the body into tone, or harmony.
(Christ’s) gospel is in this fundamental sense tonic. It aims at nothing less than an integral wholeness of life, a harmony of outer and inner self, a freedom from all physical hindrances except those which are a necessary part of finite and limited existence and a complete possession of the potential powers of personality. That way of living seems to have been the normal course with him, and one of the most striking effects of his relationship and fellowship with men was this fundamental tonic effect upon them. He organized their potential powers. He liberated the forces of which they had been unconscious. He made them whole.
– Rufus Jones, “Jesus Christ and the Inner Life,” The World Within, 1918.
Now there is in Jerusalem, near the sheep-market, a public bath, called in Hebrew, Bethesda, having five covered walks, in which lay a great number of sick people, blind, lame, paralyzed. And there was a man there who had been detained by his sickness for thirty-eight years.
Jesus, noticing him prostrate,
and knowing that he had been ill for a long time,
“Do you desire to become well?”
“Sir,” replied the sick man to Him,
“I have no one to throw me into the bath when the water is agitated;
but while I am coming, some one else goes down before me.”
Jesus said to him,
“Rise up, take up your rug, and walk.”
And the man was at once restored;
and, taking up his rug, he began to walk.
John 5: 2-3, 5-9
The New Testament in Modern English, Fourth Edition, 1906
translated by Ferrar Fenton