It’s a funny thing. I talk to people all the time who are sick or experiencing chronic pain and would do anything to get better. I also know others who are not healthy but seem to want to stay that way.
If you were to read through the four gospels, you would be struck with how many times Jesus provided healing to hurting people. Of the 19 recorded healings, one of my favorite stories takes place in the fifth chapter of John’s gospel. One day, when Jesus was out walking, He came across a paralytic. This man would spend his days lying by a pool of water.
This pool contained mineral water that would bubble up during certain times of the day – much like the mineral springs in Hot Springs, Arkansas. A legend had developed that an angel would on occasion come and stir up the waters of the pool, and the first one to jump in after the angel turned on the whirlpool would be healed. It was a superstition, but it was the last hope for many of these people. The water was thought to have a therapeutic effect on those who were in pain. Many were hoping that a quick bath would somehow cure them.
The Bible tells us that this man had not been well for 38 years! There must have been something that drew Jesus to him. Maybe it was the fact that he had been sick for so long. Perhaps Jesus heard the groaning and despair of those lying around the pool. As Jesus watched, he saw people crawl or stumble into the water every time the springs started bubbling. They were desperate for a cure.
John 5:6 says, “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?” This question has always puzzled me. Wasn’t the answer obvious? Of course he wanted to get better! That’s why he was lying there.
Jesus was trying to get him to admit his need for healing. He wanted the man to confess his complete inability to get better on his own. You’d think this invalid would say, “Of course I want to be healed!” He didn’t say that, however. After Jesus asked if he wanted to get well, the man began to give some excuses in verse 7: “Sir, 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.”
There was a rule in this pool: every man for himself. I think he was in this condition so long that his will was also paralyzed. He probably thought that maybe Jesus could help him into the water. What Jesus did next in verse 8 was totally unexpected: “Get up! Pick up your mat and walk. At once the man was cured; he picked up his mat and walked.”
This is a man who hadn’t walked for almost 4 decades! When Jesus told him to get up — he obeyed, thus showing his faith. He had just finished saying he couldn’t even get into the water. But now he was willing to do whatever Jesus said. He picked up his sleeping bag and walked away.
Are you a bit like this man? You recognize that things are not going real well in your life. Perhaps you’ve been a spiritual invalid for a long time. Maybe your anger has caused a paralysis of your will. Or it might be a broken relationship that has taken the wind out of your sails. You’re searching for a way to get better, to be made whole.
You might not be hanging out by the whirlpool, but maybe you’re trying to get better by reading self-help books. Perhaps you’re trying to do it all on your own. You’re trying hard to make changes in your life but they’re not happening as quickly as you’d like. Instead of looking to other things to help you get better, turn to Jesus the healer. He can heal you from the inside out. Are you willing to respond to Him? He wants to heal your hurts. He wants to forgive your sins. He wants to give you eternal life. How about it?
John 12:37 records another response that people had to Jesus: “Even after Jesus had done all these miraculous signs in their presence, they still would not believe in Him.” Even after seeing some amazing healings, some still refused to believe. Do you know why? Because they had grown accustomed to living as spiritually disabled people. They didn’t want to surrender their lives to Jesus. It was a moral issue — they didn’t want to allow Jesus to become the leader of their lives. They were content to live like they had always lived, even if they weren’t happy or whole.
Do you want to get well? Are you tired of being paralyzed by life? Are you ready to stop being bitter and start getting better? Turn your life over to Jesus by telling him that you want to be spiritually healthy.