Last week we started talking about the Healing at the Pool of Bethesda.
About getting too comfortable in our lack, hanging around people who are also focused on what they need, and waiting for someone else to come to the rescue.
Today’s part of the story shows what happens when Jesus confronts us in our comfort zone.
It’s part two of a three-part series and is focused on John 5:5-7 (NIV):
5 One who was there had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. 6 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?”
7 “Sir,” the invalid replied, “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.”
We’re told that the man Jesus singled out had been an “invalid” for 38 years.
The word describes someone who has a physical illness, injury or disability that prevents them from taking care of themselves.
I can’t even imagine his life.
For the past 38 years, this man had depended on the kindness and generosity of other people to move him from one place to another. Since he couldn’t work, he was also dependent on people for food, clothing and other basic necessities. (Image via Pixabay)
Then Jesus sees him, finds out he’s been in this condition for a long time, and asks him a question.
I don’t know about you, but the words I would expect to come out of Jesus’s mouth would be words of comfort and sympathy and possibly some hope and encouragement.
Or, better yet, just the words He eventually says: “Pick up your mat and walk!”
But the man had an issue much deeper than his disability. And Jesus wanted him to deal with it.
So, Jesus asked this invalid a seemingly incredibly insensitive question:
“Do you want to get well?”
What person in their right mind who hadn’t been able to live a normal life for 38 years would NOT want to get well?
But notice something.
The man doesn’t automatically say, “Yes!”
Instead, he starts explaining to Jesus why he hasn’t already gotten well. That he can’t get into the pool by himself. How he doesn’t have anyone to help him into the pool after the water is stirred. That someone else always beats him into the pool and gets healed. And how he’s always left behind.
These are legitimate reasons the man hasn’t been healed yet. He’s not making this stuff up.
But it shows how he sees himself . . .
- Totally alone
- Completely dependent on others
- Less than what he needs to be
I realize Jesus’s question may sound cruel.
But I don’t believe Jesus was being callous.
I also don’t think Jesus was just asking the man about his infirmity.
I believe Jesus was asking the man about his identity.
I believe Jesus was confronting a man who had become extremely comfortable with his current condition. With his lack and need. With his status as an invalid.
He was known in the community as the man who had been an invalid for 38 years. That’s sad.
But the worst part was . . . that’s also who HE believed he was.
His disability had become his identity.
And Jesus was calling him out on it by asking him if he REALLY wanted to get well.
If this man got well, then he would no longer be known as the man who had been an invalid for 38 years.
Bu how he identified himself had to change first.
It’s obvious this man would want to get well. But the resulting changes would be dramatic. Especially after 38 years. And they would affect every area of his life.
- His relationships.
- His career.
- His finances.
- His friends.
- His daily activities.
- His diet.
- His clothing.
- His housing.
- His perspective.
- His future.
It sounds like a simple question with an obvious answer. But Jesus was asking this man a much deeper question.
And He’s asking us that same question today?
Do you REALLY want . . . whatever it is you’ve been asking Jesus to do for you?
The obvious answer is YES!
But in order for that situation in your life to change, your identity — your core belief about who you are — may need to change.
You may need to start seeing yourself differently.
You may need to start seeing yourself as a Daughter/Son of the Most High God Who loves you more than life . . . instead of whatever identity you’ve taken on based on your past experiences or current circumstances.
Changing what you believe about who you are will cause you to behave differently. And to make different choices. Which will result in a totally different life.
Are you ready for things to change that drastically?
Do you really want to get well?
Or will you choose to stay comfortable where you are?
Come back and we’ll talk more about this next week.