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 ill for a long time, he asked him, “Would you like to get well?” John 5:2-6
This is an interesting question. I am tempted to think it’s a stupid question, but then I remember that Jesus is the one asking it. So by faith I know there is a lesson to be learned from the question itself. Jesus always had a purpose in His interaction with the people around Him. But this man who has been sick for 38 years is in the waiting room of the finest hospital of the day waiting to be healed. Certainly the Master Physician doesn’t need to ask, Would you like to get well? The answer would seem obvious. But what if the cure required a treatment the man would refuse to take? Then the question begins to make sense!
On February 8, 2012 I underwent bypass surgery believing it would be the cure for my cardiac disease. By November of 2013 I began experiencing symptoms of recurrent disease. The question Jesus asked the man at the pool of Bethesda suddenly became a pertinent question to me. That’s because I was discouraged and felt my condition was hopeless. My first response was the same as the man Jesus stood beside that day, “I can’t sir.” (John 5:7) I had done everything possible for healing to take place and it hadn’t worked. But after a few months of observing my symptoms becoming worse, I reconsidered the question of Jesus, Would I like to get well?
The very next thing Jesus told the man beside that pool was, “Stand up, pick up your mat, and walk!” (John 5:8) When I stopped to listen to His question again, I heard Him tell me the very same thing, “Get up and start walking!” I had been doing nothing but feeling sorry for myself. It was time to make the necessary physician appointments, take a hard look at my dietary choices, seek second and third opinions, and open my heart to the heart of God. Getting up is not easy. Taking up my mat and leaving my despair and self-pity behind has been a faith building experience.
Just as the man by the pool must have been invigorated to walk after 38 years, I feel God’s strength, love, grace, and peace as I walk in His path. I don’t know where this journey leads. I don’t know what all the treatment will include, but at this point all I need to know is that God is telling me to walk! My walk includes constant communion with God, reading His Word daily, journaling His thoughts, living in His will, and seeking the direction of the physicians He sends me to see.
Would you like to get well today? If you do, Jesus invites you take up your mat and walk with Him!