As I sat quietly in front of my fireplace dreaming, planning and thinking about this new year I suddenly found myself drawn to this question in my time connecting with God. This very simple but profound question stood out to me as I read my Bible–Do you want to get well?
As a mom, I have asked this question lots of times when I find myself forcing medicine down a sickly child’s throat. The same child who only seconds ago was vomiting and complaining of their ailments is now refusing the medicine I offer.
Do you want to get well?
Many a time I have found myself asking this question as I counsel young women who’ve been rescued from sex trafficking and want to return back to the cruelty and monstrosity they were just saved from.
“Do you want to get well?”
When I first ran across this question in scripture I wondered why Jesus would ask the invalid such a thing. It’s quite obvious he needs help.
But the more I become acquainted with my own human tendency I’ve realized that just because we are overwhelmed, sick, stuck in a cycle of bad habits, hurting or in pain does NOT mean we want to get well.
My heart has been prompted with this question in the middle of the night as my wandering mind is filled with worry. And with each passing minute, I allow distorted truth to dictate my actions instead of God’s word. Leaving me agitated with my resistance to get well and annoyed at my lack of obedience.
But in this passage, you don’t see an agitated Jesus.
In John 5 Jesus walks over to the invalid and meets him in the middle of his pain and failed plan and He cuts through the small talk by extending a bold invitation for something better–healing. The invalid is faced with a choice–Will he continue on with his failed plan or will he move towards radical obedience with Jesus?
This invalid had been sitting by the pool for 38 years hoping someone would help him in when the angel stirred the water so he could be healed. That was his plan for healing for 38 years! As you can see it was not that great of a plan if he was on his 38th year and still waiting to be healed.
So Jesus comes along with a different plan for healing. It didn’t involve an angel, it didn’t involve the pool he’d been sitting by for 38 years.
Jesus’ plan involved grace and radical obedience!
Do you see what happened in verse 5:8?
Jesus changed the invalid’s life but not in the way this man had envisioned. Jesus didn’t walk him over to the pool nor did he send an angel. Nor does he take him out of Bethesda. He changes the invalid right where he’s at laying by the pool.
Friend, your circumstances may not change and you may still find yourself at Bethesda but ask the Lord to open your eyes to see the invitation of healing that he is offering right where you are.
Don’t miss His invitation! That simple question is an invitation for me and for you–Do you want to get well?
With an invitation, we are always left with a choice to make.
This question spills forth out of the mouth of Jesus in John 5:6 as he crosses paths with an invalid man who had been sitting around the pool of Bethesda for 38 years waiting for the angel to stir the water. That’s a long time to be waiting!
I love how Jesus uses questions to get to the heart of our situation. Basically he’s asking–Do you want something to change? Do you want to get better?
I’m kind of shocked at this invalid’s response. He has been sitting at the pool for 38 years and his reply is not a resounding, “YES!” Instead, he offers a plethora of excuses on why he’s still not well.
Many times we find ourselves making excuses just like this invalid when offered the invitation to get well. Sometimes our explanations are actually quite valid. We don’t have enough support, we are too exhausted, our kids are too wild, our husband is always absent, or there’s not enough time or money.
But more often than not we are discouraged when the change we want to see doesn’t happen exactly as we hoped so we drawback to what’s safe–laying by the pool at Bethesda as an invalid.
Please don’t lose hope! Hope is always found in Him.
You see when we cross paths with Jesus and we accept His invitation we will never be the same! He loves us so much that he’s not content leaving us as He found us. We see that Jesus wasn’t just interested in physical healing but also spiritual healing. John 5:14
Our Heavenly Father’s compassion amazes me. He loves us enough to stop what he’s doing and walk over and ask, “Do you want to be well?” He cares about us not only to inquire about us but to heal us.
When we are given an invitation we are always left with a choice.
We can either accept the invitation and let Him in, into those dark secret places, into the pain, into our big plans, into our desires and even into the loss, we’ve been grieving. Or we can go back and sit on our mats and have a pity party about how horrible our life is and whine about how you’ve been waiting for an angel to heal you but it never came.
The road to change always starts with accepting the invitation to healing.
Will you continue wasting your life or not? Will you get help or not? Will you continue to wait for that “thing” that will bring you supposed freedom instead of leaning into God? Will you stop choosing your sinful habits over God or not? Will you say no to temptation or not? The journey towards freedom starts with accepting the invitation God offers you.
A simple “Yes” leads to life-changing freedom. Accepting this radical invitation leads to radical obedience.
We see the invitation come at him twice just in case he missed it the first time. First, it’s in the form of a verbal response and then it’s in a physical response: Jesus said to him “Stand up, take up your mat, and walk.”
When you say, “Yes!” take up your mat and walk; there is freedom where there was once imprisonment.
But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. 23 For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. 24 For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. 25 But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing. James 1: 22-25
Ask God to give you the courage to take that one small step towards healing and if you have to baby step your way towards radical obedience!
You see you can’t say “Yes” to an invitation and just sit on your couch.
What is the proof that the invalid accepted the invitation to get well?
The invalid leaves his excuse-making and we see something shift from within. We see a phenomenal display of radical faith and obedience.
His courage grows and he enters into the invitation when:
He stands up.
When he takes up his mat.
When he walks.
As a result, he discovered freedom that day! He discovers Jesus the Healer, our Savior. He didn’t need a silly superstition, an angel, or miraculous waters–He needed Jesus.
Let me make this clear, the invalid is healed immediately that’s God’s grace. His life is changed forever because of God’s grace but it’s in his radical obedience that’s where he experiences change. The invalid shows childlike faith by taking Jesus at His word.
You see his radical obedience as he moves toward freedom one step at a time. He could’ve just sat at the pool for the next 25 years of his life and said thanks Jesus for the healing but continued in the same pool-sitting lifestyle because he didn’t believe in God’s healing.
I love that through this miracle Jesus reminds us that He is our ultimate healer!
The Pool of Bethesda was the focus of a local legend about healing, but Jesus showed that faith in legends and superstition is misplaced. In contrast, faith in Jesus Christ—the One who can heal with a simple word, the Savior who can forgive any sin, the true Master of the “House of Mercy”—is never misplaced.” ~ via Gotquestions.com
Oh, how new beginnings get me excited but the thought of the work involved, does not. I think about the change and healing I want to see God do in my life this year and I know that it will involve lots of baby steps of radical obedience over and over again, right where I am at.
It will involve me taking God at His word and believing that I can release my hopes, emotions, failures, and desires at His feet. It will require me to learn to cease striving and know that He is God my father who loves me just as I am. It will require me to daily walk away from the temptation to do things as I always have.
Oh Lord, help my heart that is prone to wander. Open the eyes of my heart so I may see your loving invitation of freedom no matter how different it looks from my plan.
Help me respond with a resounding yes to your invitation of freedom and hope.
Teach me to have radical obedience. Open my eyes so I may see your invitation of healing even when it looks different from what I envisioned.
Give me the faith I need to stand up and walk in freedom.
That’s what “new beginnings” are about–finding freedom in You. Trusting that the change you will bring about is what is best even if they look very different from my plans.
Teach me to release my plan and to receive your healing, your grace, and your freedom.
In the midst of life’s circumstances let me muster enough faith and hope just like this invalid to take a small step of radical faith and radical obedience. Help me put away my unbelief so I can stand up, take up my mat and walk.
In your name I pray!