1Later Jesus went to Jerusalem for a special Jewish feast. 2In Jerusalem there is a pool with five covered porches, which is called Bethzatha [Bethseda in NIV, Bethsaida in others] in the Jewish language. This pool is near the Sheep Gate. 3Many sick people were lying on the porches beside the pool. Some were blind, some were crippled, and some were paralyzed. 4 5A man was lying there who had been sick for thirty-eight years. 6When Jesus saw the man and knew that he had been sick for such a long time, Jesus asked him, “Do you want to be well?“ 7The sick man answered, “Sir, there is no one to help me get into the pool when the water starts moving. While I am coming to the water, someone else always gets in before me.“ 8Then Jesus said, “Stand up. Pick up your mat and walk.“ 9And immediately the man was well; he picked up his mat and began to walk. The day this happened was a Sabbath day. 
John 5:1-9 (NCV)

This passage was part of our Resting at the River’s Edge readings on Monday. Ugh! It’s only January 10 and I’ve fallen behind in my reading – I didn’t read it until Wednesday and I haven’t made it much further. That’s OK. There’s plenty of time to catch up and hearing from God is more important that completing the readings. And as I read this passage, God impressed a number of things on me.

“A man was lying there who had been sick for thirty-eight years…”
My first thought was that we humans are pretty good at adjusting to our circumstances…and that can be a good thing and it can be a bad thing. It is wonderful that God has created us with that ability because if we didn’t adjust to our circumstances – or perhaps adapt to our circumstances is a better way of putting it, we would live miserable lives – we would always be discontent. (More about contentment later)

Yet when we adjust to our circumstances too much, we become complacent – satisfied where we are when God has so much more for us. There is a fine balance with being content and striving for more.

I brought up this passage in a small group I’m a part of and one woman began a discussion about being content in God. It didn’t occur to me as she talked, but as I sat to write this blog, it seems to me that she hit upon the key – we’re to be content in God while always striving to see more of His Word become alive and active in our life. Yes, we need to adapt or adjust to our circumstances, but not allow them to lull us into a shallow satisfaction.

We see in this story that the sick man had been striving for more. Verse 4 is missing from most modern translations because it is not in the earliest manuscripts. It provides context that makes the verse confusing without it. Verses 3 and 4 read like this in some manuscripts:

3Crowds of sick people—blind, lame, or paralyzed—lay on the porches, waiting for a certain movement of the water, 4for an angel of the Lord came from time to time and stirred up the water. And the first person to step in after the water is stirred was healed of whatever disease he had.
John 5:3 (NLT)

The sick man was lying by the pool and tried to enter the waters when they stirred, but someone else always got in first. He had undoubtedly experienced countless disappointments over many years. Yet he continued to lie by the pool waiting for the waters to stir.

“Do you want to be well?”
We can become so content in our circumstances that our limitations become our security or our comfort. What would happen if the sick man became well? He’d have to get up and move. He’d have to earn a living. He’d have to contend with things that those who are ill often don’t have to contend with – relationship issues, chores and living.

“Sir, there is no one to help me…”
I find it interesting that the sick man doesn’t answer Jesus’ question. Jesus asked a specific question – “Do you want to be healed?” One would think an enthusiastic “Yes!” would be the immediate answer. Instead, the sick man raises objections – he gives reasons why he hasn’t been healed. So do I. As I studied this passage this week, I realized that I do the same thing. Jesus offers life and life more abundant and I give excuses why I don’t have it. Instead of saying an enthusiastic “Yes!” I mutter to myself why I can’t really have it.

When I read the question “Do you want to be well?” a specific situation came to my mind. In this case, it was a ministry that I believe God inspired and I dropped the ball. No, it’s not a healing issue, specifically, but the principle of the story applies. God was asking me “Do you want me to do this for you?” My immediate answer was “I don’t know what to do next.” I immediately felt a catch in my spirit – I realized that I wasn’t being truthful with God – I did know what to do next – I knew the next one and a half steps. I hadn’t taken any action because I wasn’t sure what the second step would be. I could see a life-giving ministry at the end and I obviously could see the ground zero that I am at now. I just couldn’t see how to get from where I am now to the life-giving ministry God had shown me. So I hadn’t done anything. God asks “Do you want to be well?” Or in my case “Do you want me to open this ministry for you?”

“Then Jesus said, ‘Stand up. Pick up your mat and walk.’”
God is compassionate. The sick man had the wrong answer and God was ready to bring healing anyway. Our healings are not dependent on us having perfect faith. In this case, though, it required the sick man’s obedience. He was to stand up and walk. And when he did, Jesus’ healing miracle was manifested.

In The Bible Expositon Commentary (New Testament, Volume 1), Warren Wiersbe wrote this:

British writer George MacDonald pointed out that John 5:17 gives us a profound insight into our Lord’s miracles. Jesus did instantly what the Father is always doing slowly. For example, in nature, as mentioned earlier, the Father is slowly turning water into wine; but Jesus did it instantly. Through the powers in nature, the Father is healing broken bodies; but Jesus healed them immediately. Nature is repeatedly multiplying bread, from sowing to harvest; but Jesus multiplied it instantly in His own hands.

Is there some aspect of your life that Jesus wants to instantly do right now? As I read this passage, Jesus made it real to me, asking “Do you want to be healed?” “Do you want me to do something extraordinary in your life?” Is he asking you the same thing? And have you been like the sick man, making excuses for not being healed? Or have you been like me, making excuses for not taking the next step? If so, perhaps God is telling you to “Stand up. Pick up your mat and walk.” It’s what He was saying to me. Since reading this email, I’ve shared what God was speaking to me with our small group (for accountability), asked another woman to pray about being involved in the ministry and sent off an email to schedule our first get together to pray about the ministry and ask God what the next step is. Because we want to stand up, pick up our mats and walk. How about you?

One Response to “Do You Want to Be Healed?”
  1. Lamar says:

    I Loved your great christian insight/perspective on this scripture. I went through an experience several years ago, where I was asked that question, and I knew immediately what he meant and I was apprehensive as well, and not because I didn’t want to be well..of course, but the healing part is so not known, that the human side of us gets scared because we’ve always known the sick side/part of us….so it’s something that is unfamiliar to us, so it’s like being healed means I will not have a dependency anymor, Im going to have to think for myself, I can’t blame anyone else anymore,but what we dont know is that we’re dealing with the God, the son, the Holy Ghost dream team, whatever is not there…when we are healed, he inserts all the missing components..the what ifs…he heals all the broken mentality and the human excuses..all we have to do is trust him..and does the rest!!!!!

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