Summary: The moment we hear Jesus ask us, “Do you want to get well?” and the moment we heed Christ’s call to, “Get up! Pick up your mat and walk,” is the moment when victory is assured!!!
“A Crippled Body but a Healthy Soul”
By: Ken Sauer, Pastor of East Ridge United Methodist Church, Chattanooga, TN
Tony Campolo tells the story of a young woman named Nancy.
Although Nancy has a handicapping condition and is confined to a wheelchair, she has an extraordinary ministry.
Every week, in the personals section of her local newspaper, she runs an ad that reads, “If you are lonely or have a problem, call me. I am in a wheelchair and I seldom get out. We can share our problems with each other. I’d love to talk.”
Nancy spends much of her day on the telephone talking with the more than 30 lonely and discouraged people who call her each week.
When Campolo asked Nancy how she became confined to a wheelchair, Nancy told him that she had tried to commit suicide by jumping off the balcony of her apartment.
Instead of dying, however, she ended up in a hospital room paralyzed from the waist down.
According to Nancy, one night in the hospital Jesus came to her and very clearly said, “You have had a healthy body and a crippled soul. From now on you will have a crippled body, but you will have a healthy soul.”
Nancy said, “I gave my life to Jesus that night in that hospital room, and I knew that if I kept a healthy soul, it would mean that I would have to help other people. So that’s what I do.”
Through her obedience to Christ, Nancy found the road to salvation!
There are so many things in this world that defeat us, or seek to defeat us.
But, if we want…
…if we will allow Him, hopeless as this life can seem, the power of Christ enables us to conquer the things that for a long time have conquered us!
In our Gospel Lesson Jesus comes to the pool of Bethesda—a well-known place of healing.
I have read that the original site has been excavated by archaeologists, and if you go to Jerusalem you can see it today.
The pool was deep enough to swim in, and beneath it was a subterranean stream which, every now and again, bubbled up and stirred the waters.
The belief was that the stirring up of the waters was caused by an angel, and that the first person to get into the pool after the waters bubbled up would be healed from any sickness he or she was suffering.
But the pool doesn’t appear to have been particularly successful.
Even so, understandably, every hopeless medical case in Jerusalem, it seems, had walked, limped or been carried to this pool.
And there they wait, by the edge of the water.
The slightest stir in the pool was enough to trigger a stampede.
And then, the whole group of sick folks would look around at each other, and slowly wade back out of the pool.
Then they would take their places once again, to wait for the next time.
On the day Jesus happened by He noticed a man lying on his stretcher.
This guy’s 38 year paralysis is so bad he couldn’t pull himself up on his own feet, let alone make it to the pool.
And so he just lies there, hoping against hope that some kind person will pick him up and carry him there one day.
Or so he says.
It could also be that, after 38 years, he’s pretty much given up on the contest.
The place he’s at is familiar to him, and he’s in the company of other sufferers.
Perhaps, from time to time, some kind passer-by drops a coin into his cup.
It’s not a fulfilling life, but its life, and he’s used to it.
One thing he may not be used to is a stranger stopping to talk with him about his inner motivation.
That stranger, of course, is Jesus.
Jesus looks at the man’s circumstances, and then Jesus looks earnestly into his eyes and asks, “Do you want to get well?”
Notice that the man doesn’t answer Jesus’ question…not really.
Instead he replies, “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.”
It could be that this person has given up on trying.
And that is an easy thing to do.
The situations we find ourselves in may not be very fulfilling.
We may feel that this life is but a cruel joke.
Maybe we lost hope of a better life or situation long ago.
Perhaps we have been frustrated, put down, held back, and hurt so many times that we have come to the conclusion, “What’s the use?
Things aren’t going to get better, but that’s life and I’m used to it.”