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?” – John 5:6
Jesus had said this to a man 2000 years ago, but He may as well have said it to me.
The man in the verse – he had been an invalid for thirty-eight years.
I shake my head as I read, thinking how sad a situation…
How long have you and I been disabled in our own ways?
I’m pushing thirty-one. How about you?
I shake my head as I reflect, even if I had a couple good years on the front end of my life, I’ve been an invalid for far too long… saved by grace and Heaven-bound, but disabled nonetheless…
The man in the verse – he doesn’t answer Jesus’ question. Jesus is looking for yes or no – do you or don’t you want to get well? But the man says, “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,” (John 5:7).
I guess that’s as good as a yes to Jesus… the man had been trying to get well… he just couldn’t find the help he needed. His heart wanted healing; but the path to healing was so difficult, especially for an invalid. The way to the healing water was littered with people inadvertently blocking his way to full health.
They were probably his friends, those people going down ahead of him. They had spent many days (years?) together, forming relationships as they begged on the side of the road, waiting for the pool to stir… They had nothing but time to build friendships…
So when the waters stirred and all his friends rushed ahead of him, pursuing their own healing, not one stopping to help him down to the pool… I wonder if the invalid was angry… or if he had compassion on them, wanting healing for them, too, because he understood the emotional pain of being disabled… or if, on account of his love for them, he let them go ahead of him?
If real love is laying down your life for another (1 John 3:16), looking to another’s best interest no matter the cost to you, how are you and I loving the broken around us by encouraging them to pursue healing?
Whatever his feelings about the others going down ahead of him, the man expressed the desire to get well. So Jesus said to him, “Get up! Pick up your mat and walk,” and the man was healed (John 5:8). Not by some magic waters, but by the very Word of God.
I wonder if Jesus would’ve healed the man if he had responded differently to Jesus’ question… if the man had said, ‘No, Jesus, I don’t really want to get well… I’m pretty content to sit here and beg my way through the next 30, 40 years with my broken legs and empty heart.”
I can’t think of one example in the entire Bible of God forcing healing or blessing or favor or health on someone who didn’t want it.
But the examples of the Lord healing those who want to get well? Those are numerous.
I have heard your prayer and seen your tears; I will heal you. – 2 Kings 20:5
They will turn to the LORD, and he will respond to their pleas and heal them. – Isaiah 19:22
LORD my God, I called to you for help, and you healed me. – Psalm 30:2
How many years have you and I been sitting disabled by the pool?
Or are we comfortable, albeit miserable, with our familiar disabilities?
Like the invalid by the pool, I think healing of any spiritual infirmity must start with our wills…
Lord, help us want to get well, and help us to trust that You will heal us if that is our desire.