Some time later, Jesus went up to Jerusalem for one of the Jewish festivals. 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. Here a great number of disabled people used to lie—the blind, the lame, the paralyzed. One who was there had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. 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?”
“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.”
Then Jesus said to him, “Get up! Pick up your mat and walk.” At once the man was cured; he picked up his mat and walked.
The day on which this took place was a Sabbath, 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.”
But he replied, “The man who made me well said to me, ‘Pick up your mat and walk.’ ”
So they asked him, “Who is this fellow who told you to pick it up and walk?”
The man who was healed had no idea who it was, for Jesus had slipped away into the crowd that was there.
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.” The man went away and told the Jewish leaders that it was Jesus who had made him well.
Do you want to get well?
Let’s set aside the physical aspect of this healing for a second so that we can authentically ask ourselves that question. In a very general, spiritual sense, do you want to get well? Or, like me so often, are you completely fine with your current level of unwellness?
This is a foundational question at the root of any life change. Have you had enough? Are you ready? Are you desperate? This is why AA works. And weight watchers. And therapy. When you’re really ready for it, you’re ready. (It’s also why none of those programs work until you are ready.)
That’s why the 12 steps introduce a Higher Power. Because just like the guy in this story, when asked if we want to change, we blame others for our situation. That works for a while, but not in the face of Jesus. There it becomes evident. We see that whoever or whatever got us in a bad place, it doesn’t really matter. The only thing that matters is Jesus in front of us asking, “Do you want to get well?”
The best gift I could give you this week is to encourage you to find ten minutes of solitude. Take a notebook and a pen and write, “Am I ready to get well?” on top. Spend some time writing what comes to mind. Only you really know the answer to that question.
Photo (Flickr CC) by Jared Cherup