Last week we looked at things Jesus said that were hard to understand. We saw that especially true when He spoke to Paul in dealing with Paul’s on-going struggles with what he called his torn. Remember His answer: My Grace is sufficient for you. Now, though that was a personal story about Paul, the application is there for all of us, because grace is God’s resource for all our needs.
But, if you remember, that was still considered a hard saying from Jesus. Hard because it required accepting God’s help over-against our desires. Paul had prayed in one direction. God’s answer came from another, only resolved when Paul accepted God’s help instead of imposing personal restrictions on that help.
We found out what made Jesus’ words hard was the application. Application is that point at which we are accepting what he has said into our lives, not just nodding that we agree with what He said, but opening our lives to receive what He said.
Jesus never taught just for information, but for usage. He always left the people with the necessity of a response. In light of what I just told you, what are you going to do? He expected them to want what He was saying to be so in their lives. Leaving them to answer the question: Would they accept His words as true and then let them transform their lives?
Admittedly, sometime what He said was hard to figure out. “What did He mean by that?” was a common question the disciples asked each other. And then there were the times He would ask a question with an answer that seemed too obvious, yet that question exposed the area where someone’s problem really lay.
John 5:1 After these things 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 porticoes. 3 In these lay a multitude of those who were sick, blind, lame, and withered, [waiting for the moving of the waters; 4 for an angel of the Lord went down at certain seasons into the pool and stirred up the water; whoever then first, after the stirring up of the water, stepped in was made well from whatever disease with which he was afflicted.] 5 A man was there who had been ill for thirty-eight years. 6 When Jesus saw him lying there, and knew that he had already been a long time in that condition, He said to him, "Do you wish to get 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, "Get up, pick up your pallet and walk." 9 Immediately the man became well, and picked up his pallet and began to walk. Now it was the Sabbath on that day. 10 So the Jews were saying to the man who was cured, "It is the Sabbath, and it is not permissible for you to carry your pallet." 11 But he answered them, "He who made me well was the one who said to me, 'Pick up your pallet and walk.'" 12 They asked him, "Who is the man who said to you, 'Pick up your pallet and walk'?" 13 But the man who was healed did not know who it was, for Jesus had slipped away while there was a crowd in that place. 14 Afterward Jesus found him in the temple and said to him, "Behold, you have become well; do not sin anymore, so that nothing worse happens to you." 15 The man went away, and told the Jews that it was Jesus who had made him well.
“Do you want to be healed?” sounds somewhat insulting to a man paralyzed for 38 years. Obviously, he wanted to be healed. That’s why he was sitting beside the pool of Bethesda. Lying there was proof that he believed in the legend of the pool. According to that legend, all he needed to do was get into the water so the pool could work its magic.
We roll out eyes when someone asks a question with an obvious answer. Like the old “Here’s Your Sign” routine.
Man was putting skis on top of his rental car in Salt Lake. Guy came over. “You going skiing?” No, just putting these up there in case the car tips over in the snow. Here’s…
Plane came in for a landing and hit a deer. Pilot called the tower. “Tower, we hit a deer.” Tower answered back, “On the ground?” “No, he was up in the sky with us. Must have been one of those flying reindeer.” Here’s…
But Jesus wasn’t just stating the obvious when He asked the question, because He never wasted words. “Do you want to be healed?” was loaded question.
There are several statements within that question:
1. If you want to get healed, be sure you’re trusting in the right source to provide it.
a. Desperate people try desperate measures.
b. When there is no proven solution, any answer will do.
c. People will drown waiting for their preferred method of deliverance. (flood) – What were you waiting for?
2. If you want to get healed, you might first want to consider if what caused the problem is still a problem.
When Jesus found the man in the Temple after the healing, He said: Sin no more that nothing worse happens to you. In other words, in this man’s specific case, he had caused his own problem in the first place. Jesus was saying to him, “You brought this on by your own behavior and without changing your behavior, your healing won’t last.”
Sometimes we contribute to our own problem. I’ve heard doctors say, “If you stop ___, we can help you manage your condition. If you don’t, we can’t help you.” In other words, if you refuse to acknowledge what’s causing the problem, you will remain in the cycle of action and result. Until we admit there is a problem and we are helping it control our lives, it is unlikely we will stop it to seek help.
Which means: some of our issues and experiences can cause physical illness. I once was told by a doctor I had a psycho-somatic illness. I took offense. I thought that meant the illness was only my head – I was only imagining I was sick. He explained that I was clinically sick, but the cause originated in my head. The symptoms came from stress.
We can have physical illness and emotional illness. We can even be sick because things aren’t right spiritually. Any of these can affect our bodies, but it’s when they affect our souls, we need more than just getting well. Healing my symptoms and not the cause will never provide the relief I need, and something worse might happen.
So, Jesus’ question carried a significant message. If we want to be healed, we must get to the root of the problem. Not just be made better, get some relief, ease the turmoil, but do you want to be healed? The word means: be made whole.
But, this is not a simple question. It forces us to be honest. Honesty is the first step to seeing what the problem really is – bitterness, regret, fear, doubt, lust, trauma, stress. Our healing might not be the kind that can be solved by a dip in the pool of Bethesda. Unaddressed issues continue to drain and haunt. That kind of healing requires Jesus.
This man was paralyzed for 38 years. We’re not told how old he is at this point in his life, but since it doesn’t say he was born this way, we can assume he once was whole. Something happened to take him down this road. That’s where his current problem came from. Jesus knew it and knew to address that cause.
Do you want to be healed? began the process of healing. The completion of that process required sin no more. That’s more than a simple yes. It was an absolute yes. Because in that question, Jesus was offering him so much more than the opportunity to get well. Jesus gave him the opportunity to be made whole.
What if the Lord asks us the same question? Do we want to be healed? Would that offend us? Would we jerk a reaction: I’m not sick, I don’t need healing, or can we admit, of course, that’s why I’m here? Either way, it’s a question we have to answer.
Do we want whatever it takes for Him to do His miracle of making us whole? Do we want Him to heal us physically, emotionally or spiritually? Do we want a new beginning? Can you imagine 38 years of that man’s condition controlling him? Has our emptiness gone on long enough and now need the wholeness only He can give?
James 5:14 Is anyone among you sick? Then he must call for the elders of the church and they are to pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord; 15 and the prayer offered in faith will restore the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up, and if he has committed sins, they will be forgiven him. Do you see a connection?
We may need to forgive others, or finally and fully accepting God’s forgiveness. Beth Moore said she couldn’t “break out of the cycle of defeat” until she started to fully accept she had been forgiven for her sins. Ps 32:1 Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered.
Healing may come after we say yes. It may require a process that follows us stopping what we’re doing that’s caused our suffering. It may mean we begin taking captive the thoughts that hold us down. John Wesley: Can’t stop the birds from flying over my head but I can stop them from building a nest in my hair.
But what if I ask and God doesn’t take my illness away? Then your illness isn’t what’s keeping you from being made whole. That was Jesus’ question: Do you want to be whole? Physically, emotionally or spiritually.
- The objective of God’s work in our life is wholeness.
- At whatever point the lack of our wholeness is manifested, God’s grace is sufficient.
- For some, that’s an invitation into a personal relationship with Him; for others, it’s to address issues that are causing us to suffer.
- Healing doesn’t always fix the problem, but it does make us whole.
- If He asks you today: Do you want to be made whole? Are you ready to say yes?