Do You Want to Be Made Well
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?”
In the Gospel of John, Jesus performs seven miracles. In one case he changes water into wine. With another person, Lazarus, he raises him up from the dead. But not all these healings or miracles required the supernatural power of Jesus. For instance, in John 5:6, Jesus asks a man lying on the ground;
Do you want to get well?
We normally see Jesus in the Gospels, as a white knight who heals with miracles. But in this case, Jesus hesitates and sternly asks the question, Do you want to get well? . The answer to why Jesus asks this question is found in the preceding verses. The man, posing as an invalid, had been going to a pool called Bethesda for thirty-eight years. The pool was a place to go and be healed. Many went; the lame, the blind and the paralyzed. Legend has it that the pool would be stirred up by a spirit and if you entered the pool during this time you would be healed.
But for thirty-eight years the man never entered the pool. Knowing this Jesus, asks the question, Do you want to get well? To which the man meekly complains that there is never anyone around to help put him in the water. Jesus knew this was a weak excuse. Certainly, in thirty-eight years someone would have been able to help.
So we can also ask the question, Why after thirty-eight years did the man keep going back? Many that I tell this story have the same question.
Jesus then tells the man, Take up your mat, and walk. Now, no-where in the story does Jesus say he healed the man. Only the man says he was healed. In fact, the Jewish authorities who complained mightily to the man that it was unlawful on the Sabbath to take up you mat, never state he was ill or healed.
What Jesus did was a different kind of miracle and not the way we normally think about Jesus. Jesus simply reframed the man’s circumstances and told him to give up going to the pool for healing. Instead to stand on his two feet and get on with life. Jesus’s miracle was getting the man to see how futile it was to do the same thing every day and not get a different result.
We could imagine or even assume that the man was trapped in a bad habit. A habit that lessened his existence. He had become so used to his routine, that the routine became more important than living a productive life. In following this destructive habit he had become stuck.
Sin no more
Interestingly, Jesus says to the man at the end of the story, See, you are well! Sin no more, that nothing worse may happen to you. Jesus wasn’t talking about his ailment, but about how he had approached life. Jesus wanted him to be productive in his life, not trapped in a life of bad habits and routines.
While it is easy for us looking into this story to be amused that someone would do the same thing, over and over for thirty-eight years, are we really any different? Hopefully, not for thirty-eight years, but we all get caught up in routines that don’t help our lives. And I must confess, I can rattle off a few in my own life.
Bad habits limit our lives.
So this is not a miracle in a supernatural way, but a miracle of good advice on Jesus’s part. But also a lesson for us as well. Many of us know the saying, what would Jesus do? This is part of the life we sign up for when we accept Jesus. Not to be healed, but to follow his example. Certainly, if the man had asked himself, would Jesus being doing what I am doing? He would have given himself the same answer Jesus gave him.
Sometimes we don’t need to be healed, but our minds reframed. What we are doing isn’t working and we need to change. Or what we are doing is limiting ourselves as Christians to live a fuller and more productive life.
Is there something in our lives we can change to give ourselves a more productive life.
Maybe today is the day we; Take up your mat, and walk.
Listen to the Full Podcast – Do You Want to Get Well?
Blessings, until next time,
Bruce L. Hartman
Photo by Alex Duffy on Unsplash
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