… he asked him, “Do you want to be healed?” The man answered, “Lord, I don’t have anyone to put me in the pool when the water is stirred up. I try to get in, but someone else always gets there first.” Jesus told him, “Pick up your mat and walk!” (Joh 5:5-8 CEV)
Do you want to be healed? What a strange question. Obviously, the man has been camped out at the pool for a long time. No real reason to be there unless he wants to be healed. What do you say to a man who is beside the pool, but not in the water? He knows there is healing there but he is not getting in.
I don’t know if there was a hierarchy of sorts, but it would seem that there must have been some sort of queue in which to wait for a turn at healing. This man has been in this condition for at least 38 years and still has found no relief. Could it be that in 38 years there has been no one who would help him move closer to the water?
What do you say to such a man? My belief is that he has seen many people come and go in the time that he has been here by the pool. Why is he still on the edge and not in the pool? Why doesn’t he jump in? Why has no one helped him?
Several other questions come to my mind: Has he asked for help before? Has he declined help before? Why would you hang out in a place of healing without getting in? I don’t wish to be uncharitable, but the man seems to be more inclined to make excuses, than to make any movement toward the pool.
Another question begs to be asked, “How long have I waited by the water that gives life without plunging in? How many excuses have I manufactured for continuing in my sick and sinful state? How long have I experienced the paralysis of fear when healing and help were right next to me? How long have I cursed the fruit of bitterness in my life while nurturing the root of revenge and hate? How long have I wallowed in self-pity and weakness holding out for sympathy rather than healing?
Jesus comes on the scene and as always He makes a difference in a life.
Jesus doesn’t ask for the list of reasons he hasn’t been healed. He doesn’t even seem to be bothered by the others who may be listening to this conversation. He simply asks the man if he wants to be healed.
I wonder if this isn’t really the question for all of us.
“Do you want to be healed?”
You’ve been living with pain for years. It has become a part of who you are. You are used to it. Certainly, you wonder what it might feel like to be totally free of that emotional baggage from the past, but then again, it would feel as if you lost your identity if the pain was gone. Besides, pain and suffering does have some value when it comes to manipulating the feelings of some people.
Also, the crowd around the pool (the sick and the invalid, the weak and the sad) have become your social group. The victims of life and circumstance have become your peers. If you were healed you would lose your link to this group. You would be one of the privileged ones and you would need to learn life all over again.
Sometimes healing looks like a big challenge.
“Do you want to be healed?”
“Well, you see the reason that I am still here is because…”
Jesus cuts right to chase. “Do you want to be healed?” Get up take up your bed and walk!
Jesus isn’t one to throw a pity party. He cares, but He doesn’t get into this wallowing in sin or grief thing “because its just so hard”. Jesus is not into psychotherapy. Jesus speaks truth and heals what is hurt, restores what has been destroyed or damaged and speaks life. He doesn’t help us to heal ourselves. He doesn’t try to help us manage our days by the pool watching in frustration as others get in before us. He speaks life and heals us.
But the question He asks is simply, “Do you want to be healed?”
What is my answer? What is yours? “Do you want to be healed?” I believe that Jesus is ready to heal all of those who come.
Perhaps for the man by the pool, it was easier to hope for healing than to actually get into the pool. “What if it doesn’t work for me?” is a question that might have gone through his mind. “What if it works for others, but I don’t quite qualify?”
So healing is promised when an angel stirs the waters. “What if I exert the energy and find out it was just the wind? What if that ripple is nothing more than a water bug? I would feel so foolish if I got into the water and it hadn’t been stirred by an angel.”
I have looked at the promises of God and the testimony of Christians in that way. It worked for them, but I don’t think it would work for me. I would rather hold onto a hope of someday, than move in faith today.
“Do you want to be healed?” Jesus is about His Father’s business and He heals the one man, although there was a multitude there. He heals one man– A man who was wrapped up in sickness, fear, and self-pity—one man who sounds an awful lot like me…
The correct answer the question “Do you want to be healed?” is “YES,” but even that is not as powerful as the man’s response to Jesus’ command to “pick up your mat and walk.” To the man’s credit, he got up on faith, because nothing in the last 38 years would have allowed him to think that he could get up on his own strength.
He stood on the Word of Jesus. This is the beauty of the Gospel Message. Jesus speaks things into existence before we see them. Simply on the Word of Jesus, faith rose in the man. When Jesus says you can stand, you can stand.
He picked up his mat, a symbol of his sickness and sin. He picked it up in the strength of Jesus.
You know when a man is virtually immobile for 38 years, his bed wouldn’t be the most sterile piece of fabric around. I don’t like particularly enjoy cleaning up after myself when I have been sick and I am sure no one else in my family enjoys it either. I believe this would have been a less than desirable command for the man even if it hadn’t been the Sabbath day. (He wasn’t supposed to carry anything under Jewish Law on the Sabbath.) But he picked up his bed in the strength of Jesus.
There is a lot instruction in Jesus command to pick up his bed. Number one, he needed to take responsibility for his actions. He hadn’t been able to heal himself, but he needed to remember that he had been sick and helpless. Number two, He also needed to remove a stumbling hazard from the way of other people. There was no need to bring visitors back to look at the place where he used to lay. And there was no point in giving an invitation for someone else to lay there. Number three, it was a good reminder that he no longer had a bed among the sick. He was healed. He would not be coming back to spend his nights or days in self-pity and fear.
He walked in the command of Jesus. I don’t know where all that man walked after leaving the pool, but I do know this, when Jesus heals you and gives you the command to walk, there is purpose and there is life. Follow His Word.
So, where do you find yourself today? Do you want to be healed? Hear the Word of Jesus, and by faith, walk!