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.” John 5:6-8
The above passage of Scripture paints a picture of a too large portion of the Church. The pool of Bethesda was considered to be a place of healing among the Jews. The legend was that when the waters bubbled, it was believed they were being stirred by an angel, and that whoever would be first into the water afterwards would be healed. Into this place of hoped for healing steps the One who is healing incarnate; Jesus Christ. He sees a paralytic lying by the pool, and knows that he has been in that condition for 38 years. Obviously, the man had hope of being healed, yet Jesus asks him a seemingly foolish question, "Do you want to get well?" The man doesn't rebuke Jesus for asking the obvious. In fact, his answer reveals something hidden within him that keeps real healing from ever taking place. He answers in effect, "I can't," and then lists the reasons for that being so. In the natural, his reasons are legitimate, and those "reasons" keep him from seeing the One who is the Healer. His reasons keep him lying at the side of the pool, even when the One who can end all of his suffering stands right before him. How like him are we?
In 35 plus years of ministry, nothing has grieved my heart more than pointing wounded, hurting people to a Healer that stands right before them, and yet they cannot see, and they cannot believe. They see all the reasons why they cannot get well. Physical, emotional, and spiritual reasons why they must remain trapped in their crippled state. Jesus knew the man at the pool desired healing, but the "bonds" that kept him at the poolside were stronger than that desire. Jesus wasn't stating an obvious question. He was asking him, did he, more than anything else, want to be well, to be free and whole? Did he want to be delivered from that which crippled him on every level of life? It's a question He asks all who lie at the side of the "pool." Does He ask it of us today? How long have we been lying there, wanting to be free of the wounds of yesterday, the captivity that our actions, or th the actions of others have left us in? How long have we been in our own "crippled" state, emotionally, physically, spiritually? Do we want to get well, or are we trapped in that place by all the reasons we can come up with for why we can't?
Day after day, week after week, year after year, we come to our own pools. We "do" our devotionals, attend our Bible studies, go to our worship services, and yet we emerge with the same afflictions we've been trapped in for so long. The Healer is before us, but we don't see Him. We only see the reasons why we can't "get into the pool." To each of us He asks, "Do you want to get well?" The question unasked is, "Or do you wish to go on in your suffering?" How are you answering that? Do you say to Him, "I can't," or, do you, in faith proclaim, "I will!" In Him, by His grace and might, I will be free. I will be whole. I will take up my "mat," and I will walk. All by the power of the One who heals. The One who stands before me now.....with healing in His hands.
How long have you been going to the pool? How long have you been focused on what has kept you by its side instead of the One who is before you? He asks what seems to be obvious; "Do you want to get well?" Do you? Or, will you just keep coming back to the pool, but never stepping in?