the ears to the deaf will hear,
the chains of the lame will be broken;
streams will flow in deserts of fear.
So goes the first line of a song we used to sing in college, based on the passage from Isaiah 35 we read today. The blind see, the deaf hear, the lame walk, and the poor have the good news preached to them: this is the fulfillment of Isaiah's prophecy in the ministry of Jesus. The answer to John the Baptist's question is, 'yes': Jesus is the one.
The question that confronts me this Advent is simple and straightforward. It is the question that Jesus asks the man who sits by the pool at Bethsaida: 'Do you want to be healed?' Here is the one who brings healing; the one who makes all things new is coming in power and love, bringing light and life. There can be no doubt that healing is at hand, and it is for all who seek it. The man sitting by the pool answers Jesus in a roundabout sort of way, explaining why he is still sitting there and describing the difficulties he has getting into the healing waters. I've always been this way, he seems to be saying, and the healing that some seem to find here just isn't for me.
Like the man by the pool, I hesitate. What would it mean to be healed? For him, it means a whole new way of life. Better, maybe, but nonetheless pretty scary. To be blind, and then to see? To be deaf, and then to hear? Not to be able to walk, and then to stand up and step forward? All these remarkable healings involve a total paradigm shift for the one being healed. Am I ready for that? Is anyone really ready for the amazing power and the limitless love of God that comes to us in Jesus?
Ready or not, here he comes. And that is good news--if scary news--indeed.