Do You Want to be Well?
What a simple question, do you want to be well? Nobody wants to stay sick, right? Nobody wants to be in pain, or be unable to do even simple physical actions. And for sure nobody wants to be addicted to drugs or alcohol, of course we want to be well. But the real answer to this question is not always as simple or as easy to understand as the question itself, even though it might seem obvious, people are involved, and people are complicated. Let’s take a look at one man’s encounter…
2 Now there is in Jerusalem near the Sheep Gate a pool, which in Aramaic is called Bethesda and which is surrounded by five covered colonnades. 3 Here a great number of disabled people used to lie—the blind, the lame, the paralyzed. 5 One who was there had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. 6 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?”
7 “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.”
8 Then Jesus said to him, “Get up! Pick up your mat and walk.” 9 At once the man was cured; he picked up his mat and walked.
Here the Bible here tells us that there was a pool of water and that the water was stirred up occasionally, and when that happened someone could go in to the pool and come out well. The oldest manuscripts do not tell us how the water was stirred, but they do say it was stirred. This pool became a hospital of sorts as there was a great multitude of sick people present, these were the most hopeless of cases, the lame, blind and paralyzed, and they would have no hope from the doctors of their day, only a miracle could relieve them of their suffering. The fact that all of these were gathered around this pool and would have to be brought there by others, is one witness that the pool was known to those in Jerusalem and probably farther afield for its healing benefit. The invalid’s testimony, which Jesus does not correct, is another witness to the healing ability of the waters when they were stirred up.
John 5:5-7. Thirty-eight years of brokenness is a long time, an eternity really, which is why there is a level of hopelessness that settles in, a feeling that your circumstance can never change and you stop doing those things which might bring about change. Feelings of abandonment by man and by God come to the forefront of your mind. There are a lot of unanswered questions here – how did the lame man get there, who brought him, who is taking care of him, feeding him, dealing with the waste, does he stay there all day every day or does he go home at night, how does he get home, and why is he not sitting right at the edge of the water ready to roll in, why is he waiting to be helped in when there is no one there to do it? Personally, it would make me crazy to see others getting healed if it was totally impossible for me; I would leave and go about whatever made me feel best, and however I could find and be somewhat comfortable. That is how we come to live in our pain, our addictions. We find a certain level of comfort and because we have lost hope we don’t even make the effort anymore, we don’t even try. Sometimes we even use our condition to try to gain sympathy or advantage. Examples which we can all recognize are the man with the painful joints who won’t find relief by applying self-discipline to lose weight and exercise, or the addict who can see his life being destroyed yet giving in to the momentary high, the alcoholic who just won’t face life sober, the homeless who have adopted their situation as a lifestyle - in each of these conditions we even blame everyone else and not ourselves, not accepting our own responsibility or lack of desire to reach out again. I don’t say this to blame, but to face the reality of the human condition and our own internal brokenness. This is why the question “Do you want to be well?” is so important to the situation. There are some who have become so accustomed to their situation that they cannot and therefore will not see life in any other way. Fear of the unknown, or of facing their hurts, unforgiveness and the demons who torment them overcomes their desire for healing. Do you want to be healed?
John 5:6. Jesus came to him. The scripture here does not identify the man as a beggar, it doesn’t say that the man was calling out for someone to heal him, what it does say is that he was laying there, hopeless, forlorn and in his sin (vs.14). This gathering place of the sick would be avoided by the rest of the population, seeing the hurting almost always causes us discomfort, a sense of helplessness that we don’t like to feel, so we go to great lengths to travel around it. The Jews would have dodged this area because of the possibility of coming in contact with someone who is unclean and therefore keeping them out of the Temple. Other than the sick you would only find family, hired servants or the few compassionate ones here caring for them. It was here that Jesus traveled to, He came into the situation that others avoided and was willing to confront the invalid (that’s me and you!). There can be no doubt, we encounter Jesus because He comes to us. No matter our circumstance, at some point Jesus will ask us if we want to be well.
John 5:8-9. Jesus listened, we must admit that the man’s complaint was self-centered to be sure, there was quite a bit of whining and blaming others in his story. But Jesus listened. Jesus had a heart of compassion and let the man speak his peace before He responded. We also need to be compassionate listeners, willing to hear the complaining that brokenness brings. We are usually quick to see an answer or at least to offer our own quick fix and are too impatient to take a moment and learn what the full situation really is. Jesus knew the man’s condition and how long he had been that way yet asked anyway. Jesus listens and then responds. Get up! Here there was no pronouncement of healing, no direction for healing, and no prayer for healing. But there was a command to “Get up! Pick up your mat and walk”. When Jesus comes to us, and today that is usually through the scripture, direct revelation and our brothers and sisters in Him (with all means we are to verify by the scriptures), we must realize that we are indeed responsible to respond, we are to pick up and move. The healing in this scripture occurred instantaneously, followed immediately with the man’s obedience to the command. Also realize that the man’s obedience went against the convention of the day. No one was supposed to carry something on the Sabbath, in the Jewish culture this was breaking the law with strict consequences, yet the man obeyed Jesus. When Jesus gives us a command, it could very well go against the grain of our day. We might have to do something that our families will consider crazy, we might have to trust in something that goes against our own judgement, and we might be required to follow an authority that we do not agree with. One thing is for sure, we will have to give up “self”, our rights and our ways of doing things.
The day on which this took place was a Sabbath, 10 and so the Jews said to the man who had been healed, “It is the Sabbath; the law forbids you to carry your mat.”
11 But he replied, “The man who made me well said to me, ‘Pick up your mat and walk.’”
12 So they asked him, “Who is this fellow who told you to pick it up and walk?”
13 The man who was healed had no idea who it was, for Jesus had slipped away into the crowd that was there.
14 Later Jesus found him at the temple and said to him, “See, you are well again. Stop sinning or something worse may happen to you.” 15 The man went away and told the Jews that it was Jesus who had made him well.
John 5:9-11. Prepare to be challenged. When we are healed, there will be a push back. The enemy of our souls does not like to see positive changes in our lives, even people around us can and will challenge us when they see us moving in a different direction, especially if it takes us away from them. Our healing and/or our moving away from sin causes discomfort in those who are still trapped in that life. They become defensive about their own condition and try to work out scenarios to justify sinful attitudes and unforgiveness. They hide behind traditions and worldly values instead of coming into the light of Jesus’ teachings. Even those who are “Religious” or “Christian” can be challenged because they are not experiencing that same level of grace in their lives that obedience to Jesus brings about. Here we see the Jews immediately charging this man with breaking the law. The Jews totally ignored that an amazing miracle had taken place – the only thing they saw was the breaking of their law and they were having none of it, demanding to know who was responsible. As we allow God’s Kingdom to come and reign in our lives we will experience the kingdom of darkness coming against us from every direction, fortunately the grace of God overcomes the intentions of our enemies.
John 5:11-13. “Who is this fellow?” This is where we realize that the paralyzed man actually had no idea who Jesus was. In his conversation with Jesus he never says anything about the miracle worker or even hoping that Jesus would give him some coin. Why is this important? It opens the door for us to realize that Jesus acts independently of our thoughts, notions and preconceptions of who He is. Jesus can do what He wills and to whom He chooses. When we look at others we tend to judge them as worthy or unworthy, we make decisions for them as to whether they want to hear about the Kingdom of God or not, and in our own lives we judge our own selves worthy or unworthy of healing based upon how “holy” we think we have been. Jesus has a different perspective, He sees need and His desire is to bring life! Even when we don’t really know or believe He shows up to prove who He is and His great love for us.
John 5:14. Jesus doesn’t abandon us, He will keep speaking to us, encouraging us, even confronting us and yes, chastising us. All illness flows out of the corrupted condition of creation, because of the original sin, but here Jesus also brings out that man is impacted by his own personal sin as well. And here the scripture points out that the root cause of this man’s ailment was his own sin. There are always consequences to our actions, good and bad, but the Bible is clear, God loves us all and God corrects those He loves.
John 5:15. I would like to say that Jesus found the man in the temple, this could mean that the man was somewhat thankful to God for his healing. Unfortunately, this verse reveals more of the man’s heart, he was still more interested in protecting his own skin in relation to the Jews and notice that there is not even a thank you to Jesus. This man appears to have walked away unchanged by a miraculous encounter with the living God, we will meet others in our life that will do the same. The question comes again “do we want to be healed?” Do we want our lives changed and are we willing to give up “self” to accomplish this change?
Do you want to be well?
 The New American Standard Version Bible. (1995)
 Borchert, G. L. (1996). John 1–11 (Vol. 25A, pp. 230–231). Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers.
 Vincent, M. R. (1887). Word studies in the New Testament (Vol. 2, p. 132). New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons
 Henry, M. (1994). Matthew Henry’s commentary on the whole Bible: complete and unabridged in one volume (p. 1944). Peabody: Hendrickson