If you want to change, you must decide that you want to change before you can change. Jesus asks the lame man:“Do you want to get well?” All of us must face this crucial question continuously throughout our lives. There is a reason Jesus asks this question. The answer to the question “Do you want to be well” is just as crucial.
If you can complain about it – you can do something to change it!
Follow this series on the Gospel of John here:
The Healing at the Pool
Some time later, Jesus went up to Jerusalem for one of the Jewish festivals. 2 Now there is in Jerusalem near the Sheep Gate a pool, which in Aramaic is called Bethesda and which is surrounded by five covered colonnades. 3 Here a great number of disabled people used to lie—the blind, the lame, the paralyzed. 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.”
8 Then Jesus said to him, “Get up! Pick up your mat and walk.” 9 At once the man was cured; he picked up his mat and walked.
The day on which this took place was a Sabbath, 10 and so the Jewish leaders said to the man who had been healed, “It is the Sabbath; the law forbids you to carry your mat.”
11 But he replied, “The man who made me well said to me, ‘Pick up your mat and walk.’ ”
12 So they asked him, “Who is this fellow who told you to pick it up and walk?”
13 The man who was healed had no idea who it was, for Jesus had slipped away into the crowd that was there.
14 Later Jesus found him at the temple and said to him, “See, you are well again. Stop sinning or something worse may happen to you.” 15 The man went away and told the Jewish leaders that it was Jesus who had made him well. John 5:1-14
After Jesus had visited Cana again, He came to the city of Jerusalem as it was customary for all Jewish males to attend these festivals. This meant it could only have been one of three festivals; we are not told which festival, but it could have been: either the Festival of Unleavened Bread, the Pentecost or the Festival of Tabernacles. Jesus enters in Jerusalem through the Sheep gate, the entrance through which the sheep they were using for sacrifices would enter.
Amazing fact: Jesus the lamb of God, who would take away the sins of the world; enters through the Sheep gate.
Once inside the city, He comes to the pool of Bethesda. This pool was believed by many people to be a miracle healing pool – a pool where the first person to enter it each day, would be miraculously healed. Obviously, this was just a superstition. All around the pool were sick and paralysed people waiting for their opportunity to get into the pool.
We are not told whether Jesus healed anyone else this day, or why John would specifically mention this miracle, but what we see is that Jesus is drawn to one particular man who had been paralysed for 38 years. What we know for certain that this man did not ask for Jesus’ or anyone else’s help. He didn’t even know who Jesus was! Jesus asks him a very strange question. Do you want to get well? This man had been paralysed for 38 years, no one to help him and Jesus asks this question? But, Jesus knows why, and we should trust that.
Do you know Jesus? No matter how trapped you feel in your infirmities, Jesus can minister to your deepest needs. Don’t let a problem or hardship cause you to lose hope. God may have a special plan for you to follow in spite of your condition, or even, because of it.
Three things stand out to me in this story.
1. Decide if you want to be changed.
Verse 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?”” Jesus often asked questions to make people think. This man, for 38 years, was a beggar, which means he lived off the generous donations of others. Getting well would mean he would lose these donations. A common sight in South Africa is some parents use their children to earn a living by making the children beg, using their children to work on people’s sympathies, passing the responsibility to provide for their children onto their children. If this man were healed he would be responsible for himself. He’d need a job. His whole world would change. It is the equivalent of offering the parents of those begging children , after many years of doing this, a job. Would they take the job or, be too afraid to change their circumstances because the responsibility would shift onto themselves? After so long of relying of others, this man, and even us, now suddenly been responsible for ourselves, would be a big change.
We always have a choice. No matter how difficult, or how sick we are or how dysfunctional our lives are, we choose to either let God show us something new He has planned for us, or, to remain trapped in our current circumstances. People hear the Gospel, the Good News, sometimes they get excited by it, but when it’s time to change, they don’t want to.
Free will – the choice is yours!
2. Stop making excuses.
Verse 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.” Now there’s a common deflection we’re all too familiar with. Instead of answering the question, the man immediately makes an excuse. I hope I hit some nerves here with this. Think hard and long, how many times in your life have you made excuses not to change? The man complains, he tells Jesus how difficult his circumstance are. but does not answer Jesus’ question.
Have you ever noticed some people just really enjoy complaining, seeing themselves as victims of their circumstances?
Constantly blaming society or your upbringing or your circumstances or your spouse or your dog is seeing yourself as a victim. It’s always everyone else’s fault. Anybody but yourself! We feel sorry for this man: all alone, his family has left him, he can’t walk, he’s lonely and he says, “I have no one to help me.” In other words, I can’t do anything for myself and God’s not doing anything for me either. If we want to be changed we must decide to stop making excuses.
3. Take action.
Verse 8-9. “Then Jesus said to him, “Get up! Pick up your mat and walk.” 9 At once the man was cured; he picked up his mat and walked.” Notice how this man was not healed by the water in the pool. Jesus healed him. Now this man had a choice – he could just ignore Jesus or he could listen to Jesus. The message here is: When Jesus says do it, just do it. Trust and obey Jesus. It’s a choice we all have. Do you want Jesus to heal the parts of your life where you’ve been hurt or is it easier to hold on to the hurt? When Jesus says to “pick up your mat”, he is telling us something very important! If you truly want to change then don’t make any back-up plans to go back to how things were. Burn that bridge down! Later, in verse 14 this man is in the temple and Jesus says to him, “See, you are well again. Stop sinning or something worse may happen to you.” If you want to change; if you want things to get better in your life, then you have to make the effort.
God works in mysterious ways!
We can all relate to this man. He made mistakes. There’s sin in our lives just as there was sin in his. Perhaps the sin was the cause of his illness, perhaps not, but I do believe Jesus was warning him that the results of sin in our lives are always worse than the results of any physical illness. This man’s illness happened so that the work of Jesus could be displayed in his life, that the work of Jesus could be seen by others and that we too will have faith in the work of Jesus.
This man no doubt did many things wrong but there are things he did right.
1. He knew what he wanted.
The first step to gain something is to want it. We must determine what we really want and then we must say, “I can do all this through him who gives me strength.” Philippians 4:13
2. He stopped blaming others.
We have been blaming others for our problems since the beginning of time. Stop it.
– Adam blamed Eve
– When the Israelites worshiped a golden calf, Aaron said: “the people made me do it.”
– I would do better at school, but my teacher doesn’t like me.”
– I would go further in life but you don’t understand how I was raised.”
We have a hard time saying these words: I was wrong. I’m actually responsible.
Stop blaming others.
3. Jesus motivated the lame man to stretch himself.
Verse 8. Jesus often told people that in order to be healed they must do something. Jesus said to this man, “Pick up your mat and walk.”
We have to stretch ourselves. We have to do something.
What’s your excuse?
You just have to say, yes Lord I am ready to put these things behind me. Yes I want to change. Can you imagine what a different life you would have!!
You can too! Just Say Yes to Jesus!