“We Are Absolutely Incapable”

Bethesda Healing Wolffert
“Christ at the Pool of Bethesda” by Artus Wolffort

In his book The Fourth Gospel (p. 100), Louis Bouyer comments on the healing of the paralytic at the pool of Bethesda (John 5:2-16): “The way in which Jesus works the cure reveals well how St. John understands faith. Jesus said: ‘Rise, take up thy pallet and walk,’ and the man does so. The other evangelists have similar details, but St. John dwells specially on [the aspect of faith]. For him faith, far from obviating activity on the part of man, includes it as an essential element. Faith is by no means pure passivity; on the contrary it requires action from us, but also a realization that by ourselves we are absolutely incapable of it, and therefore [we need] a total reliance on God. Just when the paralytic has given vent to his despair of ever being cured Jesus commands him to act as if he were [already made whole]: he attempts it, having only the speaker’s word.”

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