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.
"Do you want to be made well?" Jesus asks a man who has been ill for 38 years. The first time I read this years ago, I went, "Really, Jesus? You're asking a man who has been sick for 38 years if he wants to be well? Of course, he does!" But then, when I discovered that Jesus asked this question of almost everyone sick, I realized there wasn't any "of course." Maybe he didn't want to be made well. And now you are probably going, "Really, Aneel?"
Yeah, really! Let me explain. Here's a man sitting by a pool that has supposedly miraculous powers. If you look into your Bible, you might find verse 4 is missing. Some manuscripts include this verse: "From time to time, an angel of the Lord would come down and stir up the waters. The first one into the pool after each such disturbance would be cured of whatever disease they had." Some believe the angel was Gabriel, but let's not get sidetracked. From a later verse, we know that the water is being stirred, and the first one into the pool is healed.
Do you really believe that a guy who wanted to be healed would have let somebody beat him to the pool every day for thirty-eight years? If I had been there and wanted to be healed, I would have sat by the side and jumped in, and if I couldn't do that for any reason, I would have had somebody push me into the waters the moment there was the slightest ripple to be seen. So, now the question is, why would someone NOT want to be healed? Listen carefully because this might be true of a lot of us.
We like to wallow in self-pity. There is a perverse kind of pleasure to be had in feeling sorry for oneself. There is also a sense of satisfaction in having others sorry for us. And if this is not dealt with immediately, it can become a part of one's lifestyle, like cocaine can become part of a junkie's lifestyle. Eventually, one does not know how one would live without it. So now, consider this man. He has been pitying himself and been pitied for years. He likes it.
But it's not only that. His survival now depends on his continued sickness. Because should he be healed, what is he going to do? For thirty-eight years, he has been dependent on others. For thirty-eight years, he has begged for a living. What is he going to do if he is healed? He knows no trade. He has no skills. He has nothing. So, when Jesus asked him the question, it was a question that would change him in ways that he could not even begin to comprehend.
But the question goes beyond physical healing; it is about spiritual healing and the total transformation that comes with believing in Christ. Are we truly willing to give up our old sinful ways that we have become comfortable in and start leading a life of radical holiness because that is what Jesus is truly asking with this question?
So, my brothers and sisters, do you want to be made well?
God bless you.