Wednesday, January 29, 2014


Jesus was approaching the walled-city of Jerusalem from the northeast. On his approach to the entrance known as Herod's Gate, He walked past a pool or bath known as Bethesda. This pool was believed by the locals to have healing powers. In and around its porticos, many of the city's forgotten citizens afflicted with blindness, lameness, and other various maladies would linger, especially during special feast times hoping for a miracle of healing. It was believed that at such times the waters would be stirred, attributed to various Greek or Roman gods or even an angel of mercy, and that the first person to enter the water after this stirring, would be healed of their affliction. As Jesus approached, he came up to a man who had been visiting Bethesda regularly for nearly 40 years, hoping for his opportunity to enter the healing waters. Jesus asked the man, "Do you want to get well?" (John 5:6).

This seems like an inane question for Jesus to ask. This man has been an invalid likely for his whole life. A burden on his family and on society. He has sought healing for so long and come away empty each time, he has given up hoping for a cure. The man laments to Jesus in his response, "Sir, 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." Yet we know that Jesus does not ask foolish questions. I think that in our own personal states of affliction, too often we do not want to be healed. Our suffering and helplessness sometimes give us the attention of others, and sometimes they just become our identity or security in that we know what to expect. Sometimes we even feel that we deserve what we have gotten ourselves into and our condition is fit punishment.

Do we want to get well? What seems like an insulting or stupid question, in some cases gets a firm "no" for an answer because we become so entwined with our suffering. A single man that I know has struggled for years with loneliness. I have heard him time and again lament the hole in his life due to the lack of any close relationships. Recently he was asked out by a very nice lady, but was strongly considering turning her down because he had planned to spend some time finishing up a book that he was in the middle of reading. So, do you want to get well?