The fact that Jesus asked this question to a man that had been sick for 38 years greatly troubles me. The answer should be seemingly obvious. The ill man described in the miraculous healing found in John chapter 5 was laying by a so-called healing pool utterly hopeless. In the past he had attempted by his own efforts to get into the pool to experience this unpredictable healing alternative. His efforts time and time again were fruitless and futile. Every time I read this story I wonder if the lame man was tempted to declare a resounding, “Duh, of course I do!”
This man spent many years living in complete despair, unable to help himself, unable to get the he needed, and unable to do anything about his horrible predicament until Jesus approached him. Although Jesus already knew this mans heart, his approach of this lame man was initiated by that simple question, “Do you want to get well?”
I think examining this question reveals something very important for those of us who have been wounded by circumstances from our pasts, pained by our own poor decisions, harmed by others, or mistreated by life in general. Though God is divinely sovereign, our human responsibility and our response to Jesus invitation is crucial.
As I read this story today, I thought, what would I say if Jesus was to ask me if I wanted to be healed? Because not even the darkest corners of our heart can be hidden from Jesus, He alone knows how wounded and lame I really am. He knows the lies I have believed and how they have destroyed me. He knows the sin that I allow to so easily snare me. He understands the addictive patterns I welcome in my life that are unhealthy. He sees the masks I often wear to disguise my spiritual illness from others. Jesus alone knows that I am utterly hopeless to obtain healing from any other source, yet, He still gently asks, the simple question that should be painfully obvious.
I believe Jesus asked the invalid man this question, and similarly asks all those with wounded hearts the same question because when we have lived with a disability for so long it sometimes becomes comfortable. Perhaps we fear the terror of the unknown more then the everyday known pain. Perhaps the newness of rehabilitation causes agonizing anxiety because we are afraid to hope.
The mans response indicates that he wants healing and Jesus is more then faithful to grant the man such an extravagant gift. Don’t miss this though, healing did not come from the source that the lame man expected. Quite clearly this man has no idea who Jesus is or what He is capable of! In John 5:7, the man tells Jesus that he has no one to help him get in the pool, and that whenever he tries someone goes ahead of him. You see, the man expected to be healed from the pool by which he was waiting. However, Jesus had an entirely different, and drastically more efficient way to heal him. Receiving the healing of Jesus, doesn’t work on my terms, it works on His. The gloriously good news is that His terms are overwhelmingly better then anything you and I could dream up!
Jesus could have grabbed the mans hand and led him into the pool. Instead, He simply said, “Get up! Pick up your mat and walk!” The bible says, “at once” the man was cured. Immediately, that very instant, this man received unthinkable healing. With complete authority Jesus exceeded any expectation this man could have ever had by not just healing him wholly, but also, giving him the strength to immediately walk!
If Jesus were to ask you that question today, how would you answer? I have that often found in my life I try to make my own terms when it comes to my heart wounds, essentially dictating lists of things I “won’t do” instead of inviting the healing of God to come do whatever is necessary. If like me, you’ve often responded with your own terms, expectations, or wishes for the route to healing, are you willing to surrender that for a healing exceedingly better and more complete then anything you can achieve on your own?