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. [b] 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.” (John 5:1–7)
Have you ever felt wrecked, broken, and stuck? One man who had been crippled for 38 years felt the same way.
Day after day, he sat in a part of the Temple where miracles would occur. On occasion, an angel would arrive, stir the waters in the pool, and heal the first person who got in. This was the only place hopeless people seemed to have any help. The scene had to be overwhelming.
Some years ago, I got to visit this place in Jerusalem with my family, and we saw that it is not a large area. What do you think it smelled like with a large crowd of dying people, who could not even get up to go to the bathroom, all packed in a tight space fighting over their place near the pool? What do you think it sounded like, with hurting people moaning, desperate people praying, and fighting people yelling?
Amazingly, Jesus showed up and went to this place. Jesus spoke only to one man, a man who did not know who Jesus was or seek Him in any way. Jesus asked him a curious question: “Do you want to be healed?”
At first glance, it might seem obvious that the man wanted to be healed. But that well was a lot like a church. People needing help were there, but not all of them wanted to have their lives changed. Some people were there solely for sympathy. Others just wanted company. Still others wanted charity as well-meaning people would come and give food and money to those present around the well.
There is an important lesson in this story: the “want to” precedes the “how to.” If someone wants life change and is committed to taking the steps that are required, then helping is a good use of time and energy. But, if someone does not want life change and is not committed to taking the steps that are required, then helping is impossible and a waste of time and energy.
How about you? Is there an area of your life where Jesus is asking you if you really and truly want to experience change?