Questions Jesus Asked: Do You Want to Be Well?
For each of the last two years, my wife and I have been a part of a well-being program where we earn monetary credits toward our doctor’s visits for doing an online health questionnaire and having a biometric screening. We are given a coach who calls us about every six weeks to discuss our diet and exercise goals.
The program is a proactive health care program. The question that it really sets before us on a regular basis is, “Do you want to be well?”
Doesn’t everyone want to be well? Don’t be so sure.
If you are unhealthy financially, you might consult a financial advisor or you might listen to advice from people like Clark Howard or Dave Ramsey. What these people tell you is that in order to get healthy financially is that you have to create a budget and stick to it. You have to cut out all non-essentials like cable television. I know you love HGTV, but if you don’t have a home what good is watching someone else fix up theirs?
You have to get rid of the Internet. It’s free at the library. You have to stop eating out and going to the movies. Do you realize you can drop $40 at the movies with just two people if you do the coke and popcorn thing?
You are going to have to develop different shopping habits. You need to consider shopping at Goodwill instead of the Mall or look for those super bargains like I got at Belks yesterday: two pairs of Levi jeans and two button down shirts for under $80. One of the dresses my wife bought only cost $12.
Also, as you develop a budget you need to get in the habit of being generous. Even as you learn to recover financially, you must learn to give some money away because God rewards obedience and he instructs us to be generous to others.
As this process continues, a lot of people who say they want financial freedom don’t want to pay the price to have it. They had rather retain their vices and habits and be enslaved to debt.
Now do you understand a little better that not everyone wants to get well?
Do you want your emotional wounds to heal? Some people walk around with deep emotional wounds from childhood, from someone they have been wounded by, from things happened in the past, from their job, from their marriage, from their children or their parents.
If you could physically see that wound, it would be shocking to know how long the person has been bandaged up. Just because you can’t actually see emotional wounds, that doesn’t mean people don’t hurt or that wound is not debilitating.
So a logical question would be, “Don’t you want to get well?
But in order to heal from emotional wounds, people have to do some forgiving and forgiving is hard work.
In order to heal from these kinds of wounds people have to forgive themselves and let go of guilt from years gone by.
To heal from these wounds people must stop denying their pain and deal with it in counseling or in some other healthy way until the issues no longer have power over them.
So when Jesus asked this man who was beside the pool, “Do you want to be well?” it was an appropriate question. It implies that even this man, after 38 years of being in this condition, had some responsibility for his well being.
In the movie, “The Good Lie,” four young Sudanese refugees (known as Lost Boys of Sudan) are helped by Carrie Davis, who works for the Placement Jobs Corps as these boys find a new home in America.
While in the refugee camp, all these men wanted was to come to America, but none of them understood what coming to America entailed. They had no concept of what it meant to live here, work here, and survive here.
When they got here, it was as much a shock for them to arrive in America as it would be for us to arrive and live in their hot, African landscape where they had to fend off lions and other animals from eating their cattle.
Carrie had to teach them what they had to do for themselves if they were going to survive in America because no one was going to hand them an education or hand them a job or hand them food. They had to learn an American skill, become educated to the American culture, and learn to work to pay for their food and an apartment. While they worked in Africa, it was a totally different kind of work that could not be duplicated here.
When Jesus asked the man by the pool if he wanted to get well, he said to Jesus, “Sir, I have no one to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up; and while I am making my way, someone else steps down ahead of me.”
The man is telling Jesus that he is completely dependent on others. Now there are times when we are completely dependent on others, but those times are rare. Most of the time, we have some input in our well being.
On June 29, 2015, Rev. Mark Mobley, former pastor of Living Word Church, lay down for a Sunday afternoon nap. When he woke up he felt a sharp pain down his right arm. He thought he might be having a heart attack. When the pain hit his jaw he knew he was having one. Help arrived within five minutes, but within fifteen minutes Mark died.
Mark had the worst heart attack anyone can have. It’s called the widow maker because it usually kills most people. There is a 100% blockage of the left main coronary artery. Doctors usually don’t have enough time to unblock it or there’s been too much damage to the heart to save the patient.
Mark was revived in the ambulance on the way to the hospital. With his heart beating at over 200 beats a minute and with Mark wide awake, the doctor was able to insert a stent in perfect position and the artery was opened and his life was saved.
The next day when Mark was thanking the doctor for saving his life, the doctor said to him: “30 people were in the right place at the right time and did the right thing or you wouldn’t be here.”
Then his wife Robin told him. “There’s 75-100 people in the waiting room. They’ve all been praying for you.”
After Mark returned home, he was walking in the neighborhood and he ran into some friends. One lady’s husband is a medic. She said, “We heard the call come over the radio and we knew it was your address. We were in Commerce and could not come over, so we dropped to our knees and started praying.”
Mark reminded our First and Goal Men’s Group that we are all dependent on other people and that our friendships matter. He said, “When you are dead, you cannot pray for yourself. My friends and my family were praying for me. People that have exceptional skills were working on me. When I could do nothing for myself, there were other people doing things for me, and I am alive today because of that.”
There are times when we can do nothing for ourselves. There are times when we are completely helpless and must depend totally on someone else for our very survival.
However, until that time comes, we all play some role in our own well being.
With Jesus’ question to this man at the Pool of Bethesda, “Do you want to get well?” Jesus was saying that even he had some role to play in his well being.
This man had been brought to the Pool of Bethesda for years. These twin pools of water were fed by an underground stream which was used for drinking and bathing. It was rumored that an angel came and stirred the waters of the pool and those who made it into the pool during this stirring were healed.
The sick, the lame, and the disabled would gather in these areas to beg for money or food, get a break from the heat, and ask to be put in the water when it was mysteriously stirred.
This man had been depending on others to help him. So when Jesus asked him if he wanted to get well, this is how he responded –that he didn’t have anyone to help him.
So Jesus says to the man, “Stand up, take your mat, and walk.”
He could have said to a couple of people, “Help him get to his feet.” But Jesus said to him, “Stand up, take your mat, and walk.”
This man could have responded in a number of ways. He could have said, “I haven’t stood on my feet in 38 years. What makes you think I’m going to walk now? I told you, I don’t have anybody to help me.”
It’s the same way we can respond when we are asked for the first time to handle our finances in a different way. “I’ve not been able to save or give away money since I’ve had a job. What makes you think I’m going to be able to start now?”
“It’s the same way the married couple that’s having problems might respond, “We’ve not been able to get along for the last three years; what makes you think we are going to be able to start now?”
It’s the same way a person with physical issues might respond to a doctor, “I’ve not been able to make any changes in my diet or my exercise habits in the last five years. What makes you think I’m going to start now?”
Jesus can provide a lot of things, but if things are gong to change in our lives, we have to provide some “want to.”
Jesus could have healed the man and the man would have never known he was healed had he not wanted to stand up.
Jesus can provide healing in a lot of ways but we need to provide some “want to.”
Jesus cares about our souls; that is, he cares about the whole of us, about our mind, body and spirit. If we want to be made whole, then all of these must work together. We must exercise all three. We must listen to the Spirit and must do what the Spirit tells us to do.
I can assure you that the journey of being made well wasn’t over when this man took up his mat and went home. His journey had only begun.
This was the case when Mark Mobley was healed from the widow maker, when he was brought back to life five times. He was healed but when he went back home, his journey had only begun.
Mark Mobley said that after his healing he became depressed and discouraged, even though he woke up every morning grateful to be alive. Yet he felt led to do some deep searching and then to make some life changes. He and his wife made some deep structural changes in their lives.
Mark said, “Change is not change until it’s change. There are things that God puts in our hearts and there are things that we see that we need to do differently. The thing that I learned is that I don’t know how much time I have and if I’m going to do them I’ve got to do them now.”
Being made whole is a journey. It isn’t something Jesus does for us once and it’s over. Being made whole by Jesus is a life-long project.
The apostle Paul said it like this: “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” (Ephesians 2:10)
If you believe God is finished with you, then the persons sitting next to you should look at you and shake their heads and say, “I’m sorry.”
But if you believe that you are God’s handiwork and God still has some shaping to do with you, then turn to the person sitting beside you and say, “God’s not finished with me yet.”
Mark says that when we are lying on our bed dying, the thing we will regret the most is not what we did, but what we didn’t do.
Had the man beside the Pool of Bethesda not picked up his mat that day and walked home, he would have regretted it. One day he would have heard about the man from Nazareth who was healing people and it would have occurred to him that that same man had come his way but he was not willing to pick up his mat and walk when he told him to and he would have thought, “Did I miss my chance to walk again?”
If we don’t have the faith to do what Jesus tells us to do to be well, we too will have regrets.
Jesus’ question to us is the same as it was to this man by the Pool of Bethesda, “Do you want to be well?”
If so, I invite you to come to Jesus today with some want to, with a desire to follow Him and live according to Jesus’ commands.