John 5:2-9 – “Now there is in Jerusalem by the sheep gate a pool, which is called in Hebrew Bethesda, having five porticoes. 3 In these lay a multitude of those who were sick, blind, lame, and withered, [ waiting for the moving of the waters; 4 for 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.] 5 A man was there who had been ill for thirty-eight years. 6 When 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?” 7 The 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.” 8 Jesus said to him, ” Get up, pick up your pallet and walk.” 9 Immediately the man became well, and picked up his pallet and began to walk.” NASU
From the first time I read this verse until now, this question has always amazed me. Here is a man that had been lame for 38 years. Think about that? He had been brought to the Pool of Bethesda for a very long time. The remarkable thing about his recurring trek to this pool was that on occasion an angel would stir the waters and the first one in the water was healed. The fact that he was there indicated that he wanted to be healed.
Jesus asked, “Do you wish to get well?” I would have expected him to shout at the top of his lungs, “Yes, Lord, Yes!” But rather than respond with a simple yes, he began to offer excuses as justifications as to why he was not healed. His answer reflects somewhat of a “woe is me” attitude. It was a backdoor response saying, “Yes, but.” I can almost hear, in his response an accusation toward the LORD by insinuating, “It’s not my fault. I’m lame and nobody is here to help me get to the water.” I would suggest that rather than expectation he was living in exasperation. I would also suggest that he had become accustomed to disappointment that he feared to answer the question in the affirmative fearing another letdown.
I find it difficult to criticize him because after 38 years his hope most assuredly had waned. He still had a flicker of hope or he would not have been at the pool, but that light was growing incredibly dim. I would also suggest that he did not truly know who was asking him the question. In that light, he may have been somewhat aggravated that anyone seeing his condition would even ask that question.
Sometimes the LORD seems to allow us to come to the end of our hope and rope so that He can demonstrate His incredible love, grace, mercy, and power. I wonder how many times the Holy Spirit whispers to us, “Do you want?” and we, out of fear, disappointment, or self-defense give excuses rather than give a straightforward answer. Too often we tend to justify our lack rather than face reality and openly admit that what we want seems impossible and out of our reach.
Jesus did not chide him for his failure to answer definitively and in the affirmative, but said, “Get up, pick up your pallet and walk.” Jesus saw the desire in him and after asking a question that had to cause him to look deep inside himself offered him that which he had not been able to attain. In the Bible, Jesus, from time to time, asked people, “What do you want?” or “What do you want Me to do for you?” Most of the times they responded with definitive requests, but it appears, that this man needed something beyond physical healing. He needed what everyone needs, a Savior and a refreshing of hope. I suggest that based on Jesus words to him later. In verse 14 Jesus found him in the temple and said, “Behold, you have become well; do not sin any more, so that nothing worse happens to you.” Jesus was addressing the man’s spiritual condition as well as his physical malady.
God’s greatest concern is not our physical well-being but our spiritual health. He is concerned about us physically else the promises would not be in the Bible and He would not have endured the stripes for our healing as spoken of in Isaiah. Jesus’ focus is the whole man, body, soul, and spirit. So, today, “Do you wish to get well?” It doesn’t matter if your issue is physical or spiritual the question remains the same. The song, “Touching Jesus” comes to mind as I write, and it is my cry and prayer to “touch the hem of His garment” and not only touch Him but have Him touch me and touch you.
God bless you as you reach out to Jesus and find He is reaching out to you!