from the desk of… Do you want to be well?
By Dave Hudson, Colonel
I have overheard some ridiculous questions in my life—one recently at Disneyland when an obviously distressed mother asked her child, “Do you think we are here to play around?”
I wanted to answer the question for the child, by saying, “Of course we are—we’re at Disneyland!” Now I know there was more to the story, but on surface, the question was silly.
Jesus, in John 5:1-9, posed a seemingly ridiculous question to a man who had been an invalid for 38 years. He asked, “Do you want to get well?” Are you kidding me? After 38 years, of course the man wanted to be healed. Who wouldn’t want to be?
However, like the mother at Disneyland, there was more to the situation than met the eye. It is important to note the man did not answer the question; rather, he responded by outlining the problems he faced. He could not get to the pool fast enough. Other people were standing in his way. He had no one to help him. It was not his fault—other people were the problem. The question Jesus asked was a very insightful one.
“Do you want to get well?” Jesus knew that many people actually learn to enjoy their problems. It gives them an excuse for not performing, for failure, for living a life unpleasing to God. “I cannot succeed because I am [fill in the blank].” Excuses are where you find them.
“Do you want to get well?” The man had not attempted to move on or investigate other solutions to his long-term illness. He prefered the “status quo” to a change in tactic. He was now little more than a professional beggar.
“Do you want to get well?” The man had no one to help him, feeling abandoned and alone. His first words to Jesus were, “I have no one to help me.” Is it any wonder that we can sense a hardness of heart, cynicism, anger and hopelessness in the man?
It is not difficult to understand the man, as we tend to think that time produces hopelessness. Surely the longer a person is sick, the less likely it is that he or she will get well. The longer a person is an addict, the less likely the individual will remain clean and sober. The longer a person has lived in sin, the less likely that person will come to Christ. We have all the statistics to show that we must win people to Christ when they are young or the chances diminish. The argument is sound on the basis of what we know. But God is the master of difficult situations just like this one. What is humanly impossible, God loves to do.
It is interesting that Jesus did not debate the man’s false theology; he simply told him to get up and take his mattress and walk. Do not miss the absence of faith. The man did not ask for help, he showed no faith, and he did not even know who Jesus was. While faith is essential to please God, God does not limit his goodness only to those who have faith. God causes the sun to rise on the evil and the good (Matt. 5:45).
Ask yourself the following questions: Why did Jesus choose this man from among all the others? Where was his faith? Why did Jesus go there in the first place? The answer to these questions and many more is the same—God’s grace.
What is it that prevents us from saying yes to the question? Do we lack the moral courage, confidence, conviction and faith to take the risks involved in moving forward? Are we too comfortable and too ready to take the “less than best” option rather than strive for God’s best for our lives? Can we face the question that Jesus asks—do we really want to be well?