Summary: Here was a man, for 38 years unable to walk, a burden to others, & probably with little sense of self-worth. Let's see how Jesus motivated him to become a candidate for healing, because I believe the same things are necessary today. (Powerpoints - #203)
Actually, it was a valid question, for there are people who, if given an opportunity, might actually choose to remain sick. Right now they're free of some unpleasant responsibilities, & they get sympathy by complaining about their sickness. They can manipulate people by being sick, or punish themselves if they feel guilty.
ILL. Dave Reavor, disabled Viet Nam veteran, tells of a young man in the 1960s who didn't want to be drafted. So he had all his teeth pulled out to make himself unfit for military duty. But when he took his physical, he was declared unfit because of flat feet!
So when Jesus asked, "Do you want to get well?" He seems to be saying, "You have friends who bring you here, & you've developed friendships with others who come here regularly. If I heal you, your life will do a complete reversal. You'll be expected to get a job & relate to people on a different basis. Are you ready for that change? Do you really want to get well?"
B. That's a question we may need to answer as well. What do you want? The first step to gaining something is to want it.
ILL. Zig Ziglar looked into a mirror one day & realized that he needed to lose a lot of weight. He found all kinds of motivational gimmicks available to would-be dieters. For example, how about a sound track that laughs at you & calls you “fatso” when you open your refrigerator door?
Well, Ziglar really wanted to get in shape, so as a positive incentive, he put a picture of a thin man on his refrigerator door. That constant reminder was the first step toward achieving his goal.
ILL. Drs. Minirth & Meyer wrote a book entitled "Happiness Is a Choice." In it they said, "As psychiatrists, we cringe whenever … patients use the words, ‘I can't'… Any good psychiatrist knows that ‘I can't' … is merely a lame excuse. We insist that our patients stop saying ‘can't' & say ‘won't' instead."
"They need to see what they are really doing, so we make them face up to it by repeating, ‘I just won't get along with my wife.' ‘My husband & I won't communicate.' ‘I won't discipline my kids the way I should.' ‘I won't stop gossiping.' When they change their ‘can'ts’ to ‘won'ts’ they stop avoiding the truth & start facing reality."
We need to determine what we really want, & as God's people, learn to say with the apostle Paul, "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me" (Phlp. 4:13).
II. HE HAD TO QUIT BLAMING OTHERS
A. A second need for this man's healing was to quit blaming others for his problem.
There was a local belief that the waters of Bethesda had healing powers. Some Biblical manuscripts also contain the words that "An angel of the Lord came down & stirred up the waters." Earlier manuscripts did not contain that explanation, & many scholars believe the stirring of the water was from an underground spring that would occasionally experience extreme pressure.
Whatever caused the disturbance, the people in that day believed that when the waters of Bethesda bubbled up, the first one in the water would be cured.