I was thinking about the man who was lying on his mat at the pool of Bethesda for 38 years. That is a very long time and very likely was the majority of this man’s life. His situation was one where it was all but impossible for him to get the healing he was looking. Apparently every once in a while an angel would come and stir the waters of this pool and the first person to enter in after this happened was healed of whatever their affliction was.
So this man was crippled so rather then walking or running to the pool after this happened he had to crawl. Picture this for a moment. He is waiting for weeks which turn into months and finally the waters stir. He gets excited, rolls off his mat and begins to crawl. Suddenly he is covered by dust caused by the people running past to get to the water first. His heart sank as hope is dashed and he crawls back to his mat. Over the next year or two this same scenario is repeated over and over I wonder how many attempts were made by him for him to realize that this was never going to be the answer to his problem. It’s like laying out your financial plan and having it based on first winning the lottery.
So when I read in John 5 that Jesus asks the man “ Do you truly long to be healed?” ( TPT ) it made me wonder. When I first read the question I thought “ what a stupid question “ but we know that Jesus is anything but stupid so what was he getting at. So this is what I think. In that situation I would have certainly lost hope of winning the race to the pool. Then I would have been faced with a decision. Since this won’t change anything for me what do I do from here? With no money his options would be few. The point is that if you want things to change you need to try something new. This man did not so I am going to assume that he gave up.
When people get stuck in life sometimes that just accept things as they are and make that place home. In the son who became the prodigal had given up at the pen feeding pigs his story would have ended much differently. His options were few as well but he had to try something even against the odds of his dad accepting him back rather then just accepting things as they were.
Today many people are suffering with all kinds of physical and mental health challenges. What do you do when they come? Well many people today are being diagnosed with XYZ and the person accepts this proclamation as their lot in life and they lay on their mat and watch life pass by. Now perhaps you don’t know Jesus at least not in a real way. Maybe you do but your prayers have not changed your circumstances and you see that as Him saying no to you. So then we just nestle into whatever it condition it was that the doctor told us we had. For some it becomes our new identity. I can join a club of fellow people who suffer the same affliction. If your condition is made legitimate then you may become a speaker on behalf of your fellow suffers. Perhaps if it is sympathy and attention you wanted but never attained it before well you may have found a way.
So Jesus asks “ Do you truly long to be healed?” I’m sure the man at the pool knew everyone around there and their relatives. He was still alive so someone took care of him by proving food and drink perhaps a blanket. What did this man know how to do besides beg? It had been a long time since he worked. His whole world would change if he were healed. There goes the handouts that he had grown accustomed to. One thing that many of us fear is change. We cannot predict how the change will turn out and that stirs up fear. What if there was someone who you could trust completely. Let’s say that person loved you more then you loved yourself. This person already had a plan for your life that if you followed it you would be completely satisfied. Then you could surrender your life to someone like that and not need to fear.
So think about it. If you are sidelined with something and you just don’t know what you could do to change things then…. So Jesus asks “Do you truly long to be healed?”