“It may be hard for an egg to turn into a bird; it would be a jolly sight harder for it to learn to fly while remaining an egg. We are like eggs at present. And you cannot go on indefinitely being just an ordinary, decent egg. We must be hatched or go bad.” — C.S. Lewis
This summer we’re reading through the Gospel of John together. (For more on our online Bible study, see Summer in the Son.)
In John 5:1-13, Jesus visited the city of Jerusalem, stopping by the Pool of Bethesda. The pool was supposed to have healing powers. People believed that an angel would come and stir the waters, and the first person to get into the pool afterward would be healed.
All kinds of people who needed healing came to this pool, but especially the blind, the lame, the paralyzed. Those who couldn’t really do anything else BUT sit and wait. And hope. And pray. There was one man at the pool that day who had been paralyzed for thirty-eight years.
When Jesus saw the man and learned how long he had been that way, He asked him a surprising question:
“Do you want to get well?” (John 5:6)
What kind of question is that? Isn’t it obvious? Who wouldn’t want to get well?
Actually a lot of people. It seems there are a lot of people in the world who would rather stay the way they are. They’ve grown familiar — comfortable — with their pain. They’ve grown accustomed to their limitations. Somewhere along the way, it’s become their identity –who they are. And as miserable as they are, they’re afraid to change.
The paralyzed man immediately began explaining why, all these times, he hadn’t been able to get into the pool fast enough. He really did want to be healed. He was certain his healing would come from those waters, and he was so focused on them. So frustrated that all his attempts had been useless, his efforts thwarted. He didn’t realize he was talking to the Great Physician.
“I am the Lord who heals you.” (Exodus 15:26)
After listening to the whole story, all the man’s frustrations and complaints, Jesus simply said:
“Get up! Pick up your mat and walk!”
Just like that.
No mad dash for the pool. No scrambling or scraping or crawling. No jostling or jockeying for position. No pushing or pleading.
All he did was answer a question. It took some soul-searching, but he did it.
And Jesus took it from there.
Imagine you and I are sitting by the Pool of Bethesda today. We’re tired, frustrated, worn out and weary. We’re in pain… maybe not physical pain, but emotional pain. Hurts and heartaches. All kinds of issues we’re wrestling with. (Some of my issues have issues!)
Suddenly Jesus is standing before us, with a look of compassion on His face. He asks us a question:
“Do you want to get well?”
What will you say?
The man at the pool had to respond in faith — he had to do what Jesus said: Get up, pick up his mat, and walk. What kinds of things might Jesus ask US to do to participate in our own healing?