After this there was a festival of the Jews, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. 2Now in Jerusalem by the Sheep Gate there is a pool, called in Hebrew Beth-zatha, which has five porticoes. 3In these lay many invalids—blind, lame, and paralyzed. 5One man was there who had been ill for thirty-eight years. 6When Jesus saw him lying there and knew that he had been there a long time, he said to him, “Do you want to be made well?” 7The sick man answered him, “Sir, I have no one to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up; and while I am making my way, someone else steps down ahead of me.” 8Jesus said to him, “Stand up, take your mat and walk.” 9At once the man was made well, and he took up his mat and began to walk. John 5:1-9
Jesus asks a man who was at a pool of healing and who had been ill for 38 years: "do you want to be made well?" This seems like a strange question doesn't it? Who wouldn't want to be made well? Why else would he be there? Yet Jesus' question moves beyond the obvious level of an ill person becoming well. Jesus' question goes to the heart of what it means to be healed. It takes not only a healing element, but also a desire to be healed and the belief that healing is possible.
When Jesus asks the man if he wants to be healed he doesn't actually receive an answer. Instead the man shares why he hasn't been healed. He shares his frustration that despite many efforts he has been unable to been made well. To be made well in mind, body, and spirit frees people to live transformed lives. Once healed, we are compelled to live differently and are given a calling and responsibility to serve and love others. This man, after 38 years, may have wanted to be healed but also may have been anxious about what a healed life would look like. Perhaps he couldn't answer the question because he become so consumed by his illness he could no longer imagine life without it.
People find themselves in all sorts of unhealthy situations, whether personal health conditions or unhealthy relationships. They may know life is unhealthy but they remain stuck. We all know addictions like smoking are bad for us yet people are almost powerless to change. Others may be stuck in abusive relationships because the imagined alternatives could be even worse. As human beings we cling to what we know even if it hurts us. We resist the very change that could transform our lives into so much more. Jesus asks: do you want to be made well? Do you want the abundant life (John 10:10) that Jesus promised or the life you know?
Part of the healing Jesus provides for us is the vision of a transformed world. We are not simply destined to suffer and die. Christ came to give us abundant and eternal life. When we trust this promise and respond in faith, we can experience true healing. This may take the form of cured illness, but even more important is an enlivened and healthy spirit. True healing is spiritual. When we believe we are a child of God, created for a purpose, and loved by the creator, we will no longer settle for an unhealthy and unfulfilling life. Jesus came to make us well and offers us the gift of grace and love. Do you want to be made well?
Prayer: Lord, heal my spirit so I may know your presence. Cure the pain of my soul so that I may experience abundant life here and now, and trust the promise of eternal life with you. In Jesus' name, AMEN.