Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Do you want to get well?

That's what Jesus asked the lame man lying near the pool at Bethesda after hearing he'd been in that condition for a long time (John 5:6). The correct answer to Jesus was, of course, Yes, Lord!" (or "Yes, please, Lord," for those with better manners than I). But what does the man say?
"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.
from John 5:7-9
I used to think it odd that the man didn't actually answer Jesus' question. But it occurred to me this morning that Jesus might have asked that in order to gauge how depressed the man was. It could have been worse -- the man might have just given Jesus a deer-in-the-headlights look.

But let's step back a minute. What's all this about the water being stirred? Apparently, the waters of this pool would be disturbed from time to time, and there was a race to see who could be the first one in after such a stirring. People believed that the first one in would be healed. Was it true? Probably not.

So this guy was focused on a false hope for healing. And how many of us are, too? How often have I thought happiness would be found in a new toy or book, or later on in life, a new car, book or relationship?

Yet, as we see, Jesus did heal the man, as he wants to heal us today.

The other thing that comes to me is this: when I'm listening to someone's problems, and I see them focused on a false hope for healing, do I just get exasperated, or do I extend grace to them, as Jesus did?

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