Growing In Faith
Posted: June 5, 2021
Author: Kerry Lytle
John 5:1-6, NLT
"Afterward Jesus returned to Jerusalem for one of the Jewish holy days. Inside the city, near the Sheep Gate, was the pool of Bethesda, with five covered porches. Crowds of sick people-blind, lame, or paralyzed-lay on the porches. One of the men lying there had been sick for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him and knew he had been I'll for a long time, He asked him, "Would you like to get well?"
This question seems obvious. When we are in pain we do what we can to feel better. This is almost a "well, duh" kind of question. But Jesus’ question reveals something important about God. The God we meet in Jesus will never force or push, even when it comes to offering healing. The God we meet in Jesus is deeply respectful of our freedom, and gives us space in which to choose. Do we want the grace that God is offering us? Will we give our consent? It is not just a rhetorical question. The question invites the man beside the pool — and invites us, as well — to explore our desires, to examine what we want and why. To examine what we put up with and live with.
So, do we really want to be made well? Well, yes and no. Some part of us likes to play the role of innocent victim, to blame the other person for wounding or offending us, or for keeping us stuck. Some part of us likes to complain and to look for excuses, to note maybe the ways our parents have done us wrong, or our spouse has let us down, I deserve better, it’s not my fault. So, here we are, stuck forever on the very edge of healing, with healing so close, but never quite making the move.
So maybe "Do you want to be made well?" isn't a stupid question after all. It's interesting that the man at the Bethesda pool doesn't simply answer "yes" or "no". Instead, he provides an excuse and defensive explanation for why he hasn't been healed already....."sir, I have no one to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up; and while I am making my way, someone else steps down ahead of me" (John 5:7, NLT).....paraphrased: "It's not my fault that I am in this position-I have no friends of family to help me out, everyone hates me......etc. Does that sound familiar? Have you ever put the blame on someone or something else instead of taking responsibility for yourself?
What’s your excuse? – A dysfunctional family, rejection, abuse, unloved, violated and offended. Maybe it’s, “I’ve been overlooked, unappreciated, misunderstood, stepped over, & pushed aside my whole life!” Yet there’s no understanding that no man can do for you what Jesus can do.
We must stop living on excuses and live with expectation. Jesus is present. He is the living water. He is always moving, working, cleansing, quenching, satisfying, sustaining, and healing.
Do you want to be made well? That question requires honest self-examination. You might say that it comes with a shovel. With that question in hand, we carry out an ‘archaeology’ of our motives and desires, and dig down deep to discover the rock bottom of what we really want. When we have sifted out and sorted through all our lesser wants, what we may discover is that deep down we want to be fully alive. Deep down we want to love and to be loved, and to draw close to the holy Source of love. Deep down we want our lives to be about something much larger than ourselves and our endless striving and self-promotion. We want our lives to be full of light, and to be a blessing to other people.
We may think about what the cost of being healed might be. Are we ready to live without the limitations with which we have lived for so long? Things we used as an excuse or crutch. Do you ask yourself, who will I be when I am no longer defined by this infirmity?
"What do you want?" It's a question each of us would so consider carefully. As well as "What changes are you willing to undergo in order to get there?" We need to be sure that we don't become complacent and that we wouldn't prefer to keep things as they are.
When God shows us a mess in our heart, sometimes we have been there, in that condition, a long time. We don't like it or the results we get. We know it's wrong. We know it will keep us from obtaining our deepest desires.... but.... it's what we have known. We are comfortable here. Familiar. Even though we don't like it.
Jesus asks us today, “Do you want to be made well?” Do you want to experience life in all its abundance? Then, maybe you need to try a new approach. Dare to alter your routine. Change your diet. Cultivate new friendships. Break old habits. Learn new techniques for relating to others more effectively. This can be an important first step toward experiencing a new and more abundant life.
It's painful to look at the ugly He shows you and uncomfortable to make that move He calls for. But it's more painful to stay here another thirty years, and never reach your desire... to only watch others jump in and be fulfilled! Compromise never fulfills.
When God exposes the ugliness in you, the realization of it is often... very painful. And we, like the man on that mat, begin to point fingers: "This is why I am here, why I am like this, why it's everyone else's fault. Especially my parents." It's easier to blame because we don't have to look at the mess in our self. But neither do we get up and walk (into our dreams) because we are looking at them and the problem rather than the word Jesus spoke to us.
Has it occurred to you that you don’t have to live like this? You don’t have to live with overwhelming stress and fear of tomorrow. You don’t have to be consumed with how to survive in your condition.
Jesus sees you. You are not overlooked and unnoticed by Him. He knows your condition – what, who, when, where and how to care for you in it and cure you of its effects.
Jesus is initiating a personal encounter with you right now. He is asking, “Do you want to be made well?” Your condition does not have to be your identity.
Whatever you are facing, whatever you are fighting, whatever your past or your present:
Miracles take place when we move in obedience to God’s word. The man put faith in Jesus word. He chose to act on what He was told.
Jesus is speaking to all of us and telling us to rise. Rise out of unbelief, rise out of confusion, darkness, and fear. Make a deliberate decision.
It is time for you and me to take up our beds. Do you want to decide right now that your circumstances may explain many things, however, you are no longer using them as an excuse to live a crippled life.
You have a choice. How bad do you want it? And what do you want at the end of the day? This thing, this issue won't fit through the door God has opened for you. But here is where grace meets obedience. Yours... is the choice.