Jesus saw him lying there. He knew that the man had been in that condition for a long time. So he asked him, “Do you want to get well?” John 5:6
In John, we are told the story about Jesus healing the blind, lame, and paralyzed at the Pool of Bethesda. It’s a familiar story to many about an invalid who had suffered for 38 years. Jesus came upon him lying next to the pool when Jesus asked him, “Do you want to get well?”
I always thought that was an unusual question to ask someone who was clearly suffering, and clearly in need of healing, who had come to the pool specifically for healing.
Yet, I see this scenario almost daily in my office. People come for help, get evaluated, are given a diagnosis and treatment recommendations. Often, however, they return a year or two later unchanged. When I review my prior recommendations with them, I am met with reasons and excuses for why they previously left my office with recommendations and have returned in a worse condition, not having followed my recommendations.
Sometimes we say we want to get well, but in reality, we are more comfortable in our known misery than we are willing to risk the discomfort of the unknown. Our pastor, Robert Morris, has said, “If we are comfortable in our bondage, we need someone to shake us out of it.”
I think that is what Jesus was doing when he asked the invalid if he wanted to get well. He was figuratively shaking him out of his bondage by having him examine his condition to determine if he really wanted to get well. Jesus knew the discomfort of the unknown:
-the man would be healed after 38 years of infirmity
-he would have to learn a new way of life
-once he was healed, Jesus expected him to obedient to what he would tell him to do: both pick up his mat and walk, and stop sinning
Sometimes we say we want to get well, yet we aren’t really willing to do what it will take, whether it be stopping an addictive habit, breaking off negative relationships, or transforming our thought life.
So Jesus’s question to the invalid, and to each of us is a valid, hopefully thought provoking question. He not only asks “Do you want to get well?” but in essence, “Are you prepared to do what it takes? Are you prepared for the change that being well may bring to your life?”