What’s Your Problem?
By Scott Fiddler
The Word: John 5:1-9
1 After these things there was a feast of the Jews, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem.
2Now there is in Jerusalem by the sheep gate a pool, which is called in Hebrew Bethesda, having five porticoes.
3In these lay a multitude of those who were sick, blind, lame, and withered, [waiting for the moving of the waters;
4for 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.]
5A man was there who had been ill for thirty-eight years.
6When 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?”
7The 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.”
8Jesus said to him, “Get up, pick up your pallet and walk.”
9Immediately the man became well, and picked up his pallet and began to walk. Now it was the Sabbath on that day.
“Do you wish to get well?” This seems an odd question for someone who has been ill for thirty-eight years, but Jesus asked it. And I have to believe He asked it for a good reason. I wonder if the man had been ill for so long he had adopted and accepted his illness. Maybe it brought him sympathy and attention—not that he wanted to be ill, no one truly wants that—but sometimes people get tired, stop fighting, and accept what oppress them as their lot in life. We can become so used to certain trials, distresses, and illnesses that we accept them as the new normal.
A bad marriage? I guess I’ll just have to learn to live with it. Debt and financial challenges? I’ll just have to get used never having enough. A persistent health problem? Maybe God wants me to learn to live with it. At some point, trying, hoping, and believing for change seems harder than acceptance.
Maybe this is where this man was, and Jesus asked him, “Do you wish to get well?” in an effort to snap him out of 38 years of conditioned acceptance. The man’s answer—essentially saying, I still try, its just too hard—revealed enough faith for Jesus to work with, so Jesus said, “Get up, Pick up your pallet and walk.” And when the man responded in obedience, he was healed.
I mention the man’s obedience because John says the man became well and picked up his pallet. He doesn’t say the man became well, got up, picked up his pallet and began to walk. I may be reading too much into it, but in verse 9 I can see room for the man making a move to get up in obedience to Jesus’s command and in that instance being healed.
Do you have a relationship, situation, or an illness that you have just accepted because you thought it could never change? Did you get tired of hoping and trying? Have you essentially given up because you think it would take a miracle for anything to change?
The multitudes at the Pool of Bethesda were sitting around waiting for a miracle in the waters and probably never realized the solution to their problems had walked into their midst in the person of Jesus.
Do you wish to get well? I believe Jesus is asking the same question today He asked of the man at the Pool of Bethesda. And we need to decide whether we will respond in faith and obedience to Jesus.