If You Really, Really Want It…
John 5:1-9 NKJV
A Man Healed at the Pool of Bethesda
1 After this there was a feast of the Jews, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. 2 Now there is in Jerusalem by the Sheep Gate a pool, which is called in Hebrew, Bethesda, having five porches. 3In these lay a great multitude of sick people, blind, lame, paralyzed, waiting for the moving of the water. 4 For an angel went down at a certain time into the pool and stirred up the water; then whoever stepped in first, after the stirring of the water, was made well of whatever disease he had. 5 Now a certain man was there who had an infirmity thirty-eight years. 6 When Jesus saw him lying there, and knew that he already had been in that condition a long time, He said to him, “Do you want to be made well?”
7 The sick man answered Him, “Sir, I have no man to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up; but while I am coming, another steps down before me.”
8 Jesus said to him, “Rise, take up your bed and walk.” 9 And immediately the man was made well, took up his bed, and walked…
I remember the early part of my college career. I was a young, green, and a little bit silly. I was into a lot of things that I knew deep down, I shouldn’t have been in involved in. I was doing what I felt was my right at that age. I was born and raised in Springfield, Illinois where I led a pretty straight-laced, church going life. When I hit the ground in Atlanta, Georgia and the campus of Clark Atlanta University, WHOOOA NELLY!!!! I had never seen so many beautiful women! I quickly found my place in that brave new world. I began to use poor language, chase women, drink a little bit and many participate in other behaviors that you probably wouldn’t want to tell your mother about. But hey, I was in college having my fun!
From time to time I would visit church or talk to believers. (For the first time in my life I wasn’t mandated to go to church) Like I said before, deep down, I knew I was into some things that God wasn’t pleased with. From time to time I would be convicted. Every now and then I would say I wanted to do better, but you want to know the truth? I really didn’t want to do anything different. I didn’t want anyone to change the life I was enjoying. I couldn’t imagine anything different.
I think we can learn a few things through this incident at the pool of Bethesda. This man was afflicted by his affliction for 38 years. I can’t be sure, but I’d surmise that whatever was wrong with him gradually and unstoppably got worse. Look at the way Jesus responds in verse 6:
When Jesus saw him lying there, and knew that he already had been in that condition a long time, He said to him, “Do you want to be made well?”
Why would the Lord ask such a question? Isn’t the answer obvious? I’ve heard it said that the Lord wanted the man to ask for help. While that may be true, I think the answer is a little deeper. Jesus noticed that the man had been lying there a long time with his healing clearly within reach. Now this man indeed had a legitimate problem getting to the pool. However, I wonder if his condition had always hindered his entering the pool. I wonder if in the early days of his affliction, he could have jumped in that water and received his healing. I wonder if he thought he had time to get it right later but alas, he waited too late.
Sometimes we get too comfortable in our affliction. The affliction may be associations; it may be behaviors; it may be habits. Sometimes we get so used to living the way that we live. I think we stay comfortable until it becomes almost too late. I think that the Lord sees us and asks the same question, “Do you want to be made well.” The answer seems obvious on the surface, but sometimes our limited understanding of the grace, provision and goodness of the Lord cause us to doubt that there could truly be something different, something better for us.
I once heard it said that some will not change until the pain of staying the same exceeds the pain of change. (Somebody please email me and tell me who said that.) Are you going to wait that long?
Do you (really) want to be made well?