Friday, November 6, 2015

An Important Question

“Some time later, Jesus went up to Jerusalem for one of the Jewish festivals. 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. Here a great number of disabled people used to lie—the blind, the lame, the paralyzed. One who was there had been an invalid for thirty-eight years.  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?’

‘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.’

Then Jesus said to him, ‘Get up! Pick up your mat and walk.’ At once the man was cured; he picked up his mat and walked.” (John 5:1-9 NIV)

Sometimes I want to ask this same question of students: Do you want to get well?  They complain of continual stress or anxiety, about an unhealthy relationship, or about a long-term struggle with a sin.  It may sound like an uncaring question, but Jesus did ask it of the crippled man at the pool of Bethesda.  

I think the reason is that some people can find their identity in a particular struggle with sin or an ailment or life situation or grow so accustomed to it that a change is threatening because it is unknown. Such a person may not, in fact, want to take a way out of their circumstances.  In an odd way, it works for them.  So, when we seek to help them, to point a way out of their predicament, they are not interested because that would mean a radical change in their lives.

We are, for the most part, creatures of comfort and refrain from making changes that threaten our comfort.  For instance, we may resist the urging to try new food or don a much different outfit than we’re used to wearing.  Or we may stay in the same job even if we hate it and there are better ones out there for us.  If our comfort range is very narrow, then we will resist change, even if it may be in our best interests.

Jesus was testing this man’s true desire to be healed.  Did he request to be brought to the pool every day in hopes of being healed, or had it just become his daily routine, something he was used to and content with doing?  It is a good question that sometimes needs to be asked.  I recall asking it of a young man struggling with pornography.  He often spoke of his struggle but never seemed interested in the counsel I gave him to help him overcome it.  I once posed it to a young woman who had a problem with drunkenness, but never seemed inclined to give up the friends who encouraged her to keep on drinking.  It is one thing to struggle with something; it is quite another to only want to talk about it but never want to do the necessary things to overcome it.

Today, perhaps there is a struggle in your own life that is ongoing.  It may be a good time to ask yourself the same question that Jesus posed to the crippled man: Do you want to get well?  And like this man, if the answer is yes, then Jesus can provide the way to healing. 

© Jim Musser 2015 

No comments: