Summary: 5th in the series "Conversations with Jesus." Jesus asks us today just as he did the man at the pool, "Do you want to get well?"
When I was a chaplain for soldiers in Basic Training, I learned to use a counseling technique called "Soloution Focused Therapy. One of the main questions that the counselor asks with this technique is, "What are you going to do?"
Almost always the first reply would be be "I need someone else to do something for me" My Drill Sergeant, My wife, the Army, God. Soloutions to my problems are the responsibility of anyone but myself.
I think that’s a typical human response. It’s far easier to look for a rescuer than to take responsibility. That’s one of the reasons I like soloution focused counseling. It reminds people of their role as a participant in their lives, not an innocent bystander as life goes by experiencing hurt, rejection, dissappointment, but unable to do anything about it. It focuses attention on individual responsibility.
This isn’t really a new counseling technique, in fact it’s one that Jesus used quite often in His conversations with people. We’re going to look at one of those conversations this morning.
As in each of these "conversations with Jesus" that we are looking at as we follow the course of this brief encounter between Jesus and a man with a need I’d like us to consider the possibility that Jesus may be speaking the same message to us that He did to the Lame man. The conversation begins with...
A Crazy Question (v. 6)
Go back with me for a moment to the pool of Bethesda. Here is a place where sick people congregate because they believe that they can be healed by getting into the water whenever it is stirred. Jesus approaches a man obviously crippled. He has about him the paraphernalia common to cripples who begged for a living in those days--a mat to lay on, a collection plate for the alms of those who might take pity upon him, perhaps he had crutches if he was able to use them.
Jesus was speaking to him and had learned that he had been this way for 38 years. Add to this the fact that he was hanging out at a pool that was known for healing and we can begin to get some sense of how crazy it must have sounded for Jesus to ask, "Do you want to get well?’"
What kind of a question is that? Does a crippled man want to get well? That’s a question that rivals one of my Dad’s all time favorites: "Do you want a spanking?" "Well Dad, I’ll have to think about that one. The answer to the question seems obvious.
But maybe, just maybe, the question isn’t as shallow as it seems at first glance. Let’s just consider that for a moment. Here is a man who had been crippled for 38 years. All of that time he had relied upon the kindness of others to make his way in life. If he were to "get well" he would have to earn his way for the first time in 38 years--perhaps the first time ever. He would no longer have an excuse for what his life was. The responsibility would be his.
So maybe the question "Do you want to get well" wasn’t such a crazy question at all. Maybe it was a question that pierced to the very center of the man’s heart and exposed the motives that lay deep within.