The Healing at the Pool
Some time later, Jesus went up to Jerusalem for one of the Jewish festivals. Now there is in Jerusalem near the Sheep Gate a pool, which in Aramaic is called Bethesda and which is surrounded by five covered colonnades. Here a great number of disabled people used to lie— the blind, the lame, the paralyzed. One who was there had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him lying there and learned that he had been in this condition for a long time, he asked him, “Do you want to get well?”
“Sir,” the invalid replied, “I have no one to help me into the pool when the water is stirred. While I am trying to get in, someone else goes down ahead of me.”
Then Jesus said to him, “Get up! Pick up your mat and walk.” At once the man was cured; he picked up his mat and walked.
John 5:1-9 (NIV)
The exchange with the sick man and Jesus is quick but interesting. The man has been lying next to a known healing pool for years, even decades. If he could make it a bit further, he would be healed like the many others he has watched go by. We don’t know why he can not make it to the pool, there are many possibilities. Maybe he has no friends nor family to carry him the rest of the way; maybe because of death but maybe he has burnt all his bridges. Maybe people are frightened by him or maybe he is a jerk or maybe it is an aggressive scene and he just doesn’t have it in him to fight anymore. We don’t know why but we know he can not make it to the healing pool. All of this is interesting to ponder but what is truly curious is what Jesus asks him and asks of him.
Jesus asks, “Do you want to get well?”
What? The man has not been able to walk for 38 years and Jesus ask if he wants to get well. We know the heart of Jesus and we know he means what he says, so let’s explore this. Do you want to get well? Do I want to get well? The quick response in my head is a sassy, “ummm, yah”. But in these situations I have learned that Jesus has something to teach me. I must pause, surrender, slow down and ask Jesus to speak to my sassy hardened heart.
Do I want to get well? The initial response is a screaming YES, of course I want to be well and then a little thought begins to sprout in my mind. In 2010 I was diagnosed with stage 4 breast cancer, which is a whole story or 12 in itself, and I was given an oral chemo to continue with indefinitely. The medication has some crummy side effects. My body has mostly adjusted to it but I still have days of pain. The best way to describe this is when you get the flu and your body aches and you don’t want to move. This is the pain. There are other medication options out there but with this one, I know the pain of side effects and know I can deal with it. I fear the unknown. I’d rather deal with this pain then start with a new medication and whatever it’s side effects are. I fear the unknown so I stay in pain. I think we do this in life. We stay stuck even though the situation is not ideal because we fear the unknown. We would rather manage the trouble we have instead our facing fears or doing the hard work to get out of it.
Do you want to get well? The question carries a heaviness.
Of course everyone wants to be healed, right?
The bestie of fear is worry. When we do not know what to expect or what the future holds (which is actually always) and anxiousness takes over and begins ruling the show. Decisions are made or not made because of the “what ifs”. Somehow we think worrying is doing something when we are uneasy or unsure. Over and over the Bible tells us not to worry, that it is a waste of time. (Mt 6:25-34, 11:28-30, Phil 4:6-7, Lk 12:24-34, John 14:27) Instead of worry, we are to pray, trust and have faith in God’s promises. Worry is a distraction that keeps us from the best version of ourselves. It is not helpful nor productive but our minds deceive us into thinking it is what we are supposed to do when in actuality it is not doing anything and even destructive. The world has taught that worry is a way of showing you care. Jesus teaches instead of worrying, surrender it in prayer. I have had situations in my life where this surrender took place every day, several times a day. When I begin to worry, I stop and pray and ask for God’s will be done and for the peace that only God can give. I have felt this peace and have been given miracles, pray works. Do you want to get well? Read your Bible. Learn God’s promises. Pray, surrender the worry and repeat.
I think back at early times in my marriage when I would get angry at something my man did and I could not let it go. I pouted, maybe even stomped a bit but for sure I was going to let him know he was wrong by staying angry. Later in life I heard anger described as “false control.” It is a reaction to something you have no control over and you retaliate with anger in order punish the other person. (If you’ve never heard that before, think and pray on that. It is eye and heart opening.) Anyway, I was angry. I chose anger and I chose to hold on to anger for the remainder of the day. Do you want to get well? Honestly, my answer would have been no. My anger was a choice and I wanted to be angry. I did not want to be well or healed or anything that would have stopped the punishment. Fortunately, I have grown by leaps and bounds in this area and rarely get angry at my man. Maybe I still get angry but I am able to let it go so quickly that I do not remember the times I do get angry. My eyes were opened and I was able to see that I was punishing myself more than I was punishing him. I ruined my own day and decided that life is too short to hold on to anger. How about you? Are you holding on to anger? Do you want to get well?
I think of those who struggle with addictions. Do they want to get well? Yes, but… there is often a but. Family and friends around them are crying and praying for the Yes but it doesn’t come. At times it even appears as if the answer were yes, but the change would be too hard. Life would have to change, friends would have to change. Admitting there was a problem and the guilt and shame that surrounds it are overwhelming. The price is high. If only they could see the other side of it, they would never go back.
This seemingly crazy question, “Do you want to be well?” is not so crazy at all. Surprisingly, we answer no all to often to this question.
What IF we always responded yes?
The paralyzed man in the story could have worried about all the changes to come— no more hand outs, where would he go from here, life would change drastically. But with little hesitation, he said yes. He wanted to be healed but did not have the help to do so. Jesus said to him, “Get up! Pick up your mat and walk.” The man did so and was instantly cured.
What if we always responded yes? The man said yes, did the action that was required of him and was healed. What if it were all that simple?
Jesus invites us to be healed every day, all day. It is a standing invitation that is waiting for our acceptance. We must say yes. After the yes, we must do the action or the work required of us. When we do this, we will be healed. We will get well.
Oh friends, let’s get well together. Let us throw away our fears, give up our anger or worry, surrender our addictions and answer yes with out hesitation then get to work. Our healing is waiting. Life abundant is waiting.
Do you want to get well? Let’s go.