Tuesday, May 22, 2007

"Do You Want to Get Well?"

What a stupid question!

Back up 15 minutes ...

There was a place in Isreal which was legendary for healing. It was a public pool, probably originally a decorative area, or maybe a place where the poor could come to cool off on a hot day. But after years it was no longer used for that purpose. It seems that this place had a reputation for healing miracles. Legend had it that if you sat there long enough, the normally calm waters would get a ripple, or maybe a splash, and that was supposedly because an angel touched the water. At that point, the first person in the pool was healed of whatever illness they had. Either it must have worked, or maybe the people hanging around were so desperate that they would try anything.

Any way, there was a man, a quadraplegic, who had been there for thirty-eight years (St. John 5:1-14). He must have seen some people healed, otherwise I cannot imagine that he would have stayed there that long. As a matter of fact, he does claim that other people have gotten in ahead of him (v. 7) and they must have been healed, or he would have gone home (at least I would have if I had been him).

It is into this situation that Jesus walks. He looks at the man and asks him that question, "Do you want to get well?" I find it interesting that instead of saying, "What are you, nuts? Of course I do!" the man tries to explain why he hasn't been able to ... "some one always jumps in ahead of me." (So, get a patio chair and go sit in the shallow end ... don't get out of the pool!)

(Hint to the man who had been sitting there for thirty-eight years, you are talking to the Guy who sends the angels to splash in the pool!)

Jesus by-passes the pool and just tells him to get up and walk. And he does. No splashing in the pool, no going for a swim, no big ceremony. Just a simple "pack up and go" (OK, "Pick up your mat and walk.") And he was healed.

What about us? Do we want to get well? Well from what? The simple answer is sin. Do we want to be healed from our sin? Oh, not just the "God saved me and washed away my sin, and now I'm going to Heaven" sin, but what about the daily sin that we commit? Do I really want to be healed of the sin of ignoring God six and a half days a week, and playing Christian on Sunday morning? Do I really want to be healed of the sin of ignoring other people and thinking myself to be the most important person in the world? Do I really want to be healed of the sin of treating God like a cosmic Santa Claus, and constantly pestering Him with my petty wants? Do I really want to be healed of the sin of not falling on my face in worship and treating Him like the Creator of the universe that He is?

There is a part of us that says, "oh, yeah, I guess I could do that, if I want," but can we really? I'm sure that every time the man saw the water splash, he thought, "maybe this time." But, it didn't happen. He was too far gone, he lost the ability to move the inches to get into the pool. Had Jesus not come by, he probably would have been there until he died. We are also too far gone. Sin has robbed us of the will or the drive or whatever you want to call it that would "put us in the pool".

"I could do that if I wanted to," but the not-wanting-to is part of the disease of sin. Even if we could start, we could not keep it up. The life of the Spirit cannot be lived in the power of the flesh. That means that if you have to force yourself to do the right thing, go to church, give an offering, be nice to people even when they're a pain, etc., then you will come to the end of your rope and quit. It might be tomorrow, next week, or a year from now, but at some point you will say, "to heck with it! It's not worth it!"

Like the man at the pool, we need Jesus to heal us.


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