The sick, blind, crippled, and paralyzed waited on porches around the pool for the water to move. If someone touched the water when it moved, he or she would be healed (so they believed).
One of the men lying by the pool had been sick for 38 years:
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?”
“Sir,” the invalid replied, “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.”
Then Jesus said to him, “Get up! Pick up your mat and walk.” At once the man was cured; he picked up his mat and walked. John 5:6-9 NIV
My friend told me that she realized though she said she wanted to be well, sometimes deep down inside she really did not want to change.
I think the same may be true of the guy at Bethesda’s pool. I think it’s true for most of us.
This guy feels like a victim to me: “Oh, I really do want to be well, but this thing gets in the way, or that thing gets in the way, or the other thing gets in the way.”
Well, maybe the guy was too sick to crawl over to the pool, but my sense is he just didn’t try too hard. He waits for someone else to help him. Or he gives up when someone gets in the way.
I mean, if he REALLY wanted to get well, wouldn’t he use every ounce of energy he had to pull himself over to that pool? To do all he could to overcome the obstacle of other people?
“The man doth protest too much, methinks.” (as Hamlet’s mom said)
I think we all do this. We say we want to be made well spiritually. We say we want to change. We want to grow closer to Jesus. We want to be released of this sin or that.
But we don’t want to be healed at the same time. We are afraid. We don’t want to abandon the idols that have served us our whole lives (we actually convince ourselves they work!). The unknown future of health seems scarier than the familiar past of sickness. What if we got healed then couldn’t walk? Sometimes we’d rather just sit in our stew then to face our fears.
We convince ourselves we want to change, at the same time finding excuse after excuse for why we can’t change: “God isn’t answering my prayers.” “Nothing worked, so I gave up.” “I tried counseling, but it didn’t help.”
Like the man at the pool, we become victims instead of victors.
Maybe Jesus needs to ask us, too: “Do you REALLY want to get well? Really?”
Perhaps we need to show Jesus that we mean business. We need to drag ourselves over and around obstacles on the way to repentance.
That’s part of what motivated me to blog every day – Jesus’ promise from Jeremiah 29:13 that “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” I decided to take God at His Word and seek with all the heart I knew. I decided to wrestle like Jacob until I got the blessing of repentance, of greater intimacy with Jesus. I think it’s working.
But this is what I absolutely love about this story: Jesus does not wait for the man to decide he really wants to be healed. Jesus doesn’t wait for a show of desperation or dedication on the sick man’s part.
Jesus simply tells the man who’s been sick for 38 years to get up. Get up and get going.
“At once the man was cured.” What grace that Jesus doesn’t always wait for us to stop being victims and to start moving towards spiritual health.
Sometimes Jesus just says “Get up.” His words overcome our fear and indecision. His words heal.
Oh, Lord: So many of us are stuck. We’ve been stuck for a long time. We want to be healed spiritually, but we don’t want to at the same time. Deep down inside we are paralyzed by fear. So we find excuses to stay stuck. But deeper down inside, Your Spirit dwells and longs to see us move from victim to victor, from being spiritually sick to well, from sin to repentance. The Spirit is groaning on our behalf for You to say “Get up!” We’re waiting! Amen
P.S. Regarding my 2 Samuel reading, I thought it very interesting that the Ark of the Covenant was never around Saul when he was king (it stayed in Kiriath Jearim), but David fetched it and brought it to Jerusalem as soon as he became king… Which man knew he needed to rely on God?
Today’s Readings: 2 Samuel 5:1-6:23, Psalm 63:1-11, Proverbs 16:16-17, John 5:1-18. See About for what I’m up to with these daily posts. Your daily blogger, Holiday Longing (Reproduce with permission only).