How Well Are You?
Lord of Wholeness, help us to be open to deeper healing in our lives.
Read John 5:1–15
Some time later, Jesus went up to Jerusalem for one of the Jewish festivals. 2 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. 3 Here a great number of disabled people used to lie—the blind, the lame, the paralyzed.  5 One who was there had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. 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.” 9 At once the man was cured; he picked up his mat and walked.
The day on which this took place was a Sabbath, 10 and so the Jewish leaders said to the man who had been healed, “It is the Sabbath; the law forbids you to carry your mat.”
11 But he replied, “The man who made me well said to me, ‘Pick up your mat and walk.’ ”
12 So they asked him, “Who is this fellow who told you to pick it up and walk?”
13 The man who was healed had no idea who it was, for Jesus had slipped away into the crowd that was there.
14 Later Jesus found him at the temple and said to him, “See, you are well again. Stop sinning or something worse may happen to you.” 15 The man went away and told the Jewish leaders that it was Jesus who had made him well.
New International Version (NIV)
Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
This healing was performed on the Sabbath (9), which would eventuate in a caustic debate with Jesus’ enemies shortly thereafter (16) and even weeks later (7:23). What does this say about the Lord’s perspective on things? Do man-made Sabbath rules eclipse a reversal of 38 years of human misery (5:5)?
What does it mean to be completely well? First thoughts will probably focus on physical health, but other dimensions push us deeper. We can be morally unhealthy, incapable of dealing with sin; and socially unhealthy, unable to relate properly to others. Embedded in this vivid story about Jesus’ healing at the pool is a provocative question. In this immensely needy place, the pool of Bethesda, Jesus confronts a man with a long-standing physical disability. Yet, instead of a direct healing (as in Mark 2:11), Jesus asks a direct question: “Do you want to get well?” (6). This question may seem somewhere between unnecessary and ridiculous, but Jesus is probing the man’s will to be whole.
Obviously, he needs physical healing. Perhaps Jesus sees some defeatism. A
lengthy illness can easily lead to that. Now, in Jesus’ presence, the hope of physical health enters the picture. Will the man act on it? Jesus’ promise to heal continues today (Jas. 5:14,15), yet we can be reluctant to act and even be closed to its possibility. All that can be said about physical weakness applies to moral weakness, too. When we feel weak and incapable, how can we break out of such stifling negativity? Sin impairs wholeness, as becomes clear when Jesus finds the man later and tells him that he is to stop sinning (14). Further, his complaint about having no friends (7) suggests the need for healing in relationships—social healing. Instead of depending on others, he will be able to take the initiative for them. Is he willing to be well?
A friend of mine who was dying of pancreatic cancer articulated his trust in
Jesus like this: “We live and pray one day at a time. We pray each day and
say, ‘Thank You, God, for the healing You gave me today. Please heal me tomorrow.’”
Bearing in mind the range and depth of Jesus’ power to heal, where is he asking you to put your willingness to be well?
Lord, Your boldness is exceeded only by Your compassion. Help me to grow in both as I continue to strive to emulate You in all things.
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