Summary: Do we really want to be healed of what afflicts us?
First Baptist Church
October 20, 2002
Soon after the discovery of the New World, Europeans began making the long journey across the ocean in hopes of finding something. Some were hoping to find a new life. Others wanted adventure. Some wanted religious freedom. And there were still others who came in search of gold. One was a Spanish conquistador by the name of Ponce de Leon. Ponce de Leon and his men were the first Europeans to explore Puerto Rico, parts of Mexico and Florida. In his quest to find gold, he met many Indians who told him of a spring that bubbled up out of the ground. It was said that this spring had magical powers. Anyone who drank the water would be healed of any disease or physical problem they might have. And their bodies would once again be youthful. It was appropriately called the "Fountain of Youth." De Leon made this his life-long goal, however, he died from a poisoned arrow in 1521. Obviously he was unsuccessful.
In the year 2002, not much has changed. We’re still looking for the fountain of youth. Women try to find it in make-up and facials. (NEW SURGERIES) Men and women seek it by having their faces lifted and tummies tucked. As we enter the cold months, we’ll try on last years winter clothes. There is no better barometer to determine how our waistline is doing than trying those clothes on again. The suntan season is over. We lay out in the sun to soak up rays so we can have that "youthful glow." Yet, a century or two ago, the goal was to become aged so that you could enjoy the respect old age brings. But today, the goal is to look as young as you can so you can feel good about yourself. As much as we try, and as many breakthroughs as science hands us, our search for the fountain of youth will end the same way that Ponce de Leon’s search ended. It will forever be elusive.
Fifteen centuries before de Leon, Jesus strolled to a place called Bethesda. There He found a scene that would repulse many of us. Lying and sitting around this pool were many men and women, and maybe even boys and girls. They were all in search of the elusive fountain of youth. You see, it was believed that every time the water stirred in that pool, which was connected to an underground stream, healing powers would appear and whoever touched the water first would find healing.
Once a rumor got started it was hard to stop it, and quite possibly someone may have been healed one time and now it was difficult to get people to leave the pool. Jesus approaches a man who had been ill, who had most likely been bed ridden for the past 38 years. We know he was a beggar, making a living off of what others gave him. He may have paid people to bring him food and have others take care of any other needs. Life for this man may not have been so bad. One Bible scholar wrote (Findlay), "An Eastern beggar often loses a good living by being cured." So there was a risk if he was cured. Jesus lived in that culture, so He understood this way of thinking.
So Jesus stopped and asked him a question that seems to astound our senses — "DO YOU WANT TO BE MADE WELL?"
On the surface this is a ridiculous question. It would be like asking someone if they want to eat something when they’re hungry, or drink if they were thirsty. It would be like asking a person who was shivering in the freezing cold, if they wanted a coat. Yet, Jesus’ question was profound and insightful.
When Jesus asks the man if he WANTS to be made well, the word WANT takes this man to a deeper level. We don’t see it in the English, but Jesus is literally asking the man ‘you must not only be willing to be made well, but you must also show me by your actions. It’s like asking me if I want $1 million, I must take the money and do something with it. The word WANT means that I will participate in this action. And the same is true for this man. He must show Jesus by His actions. This man had lived for so long in this state, that his sense of hope may have vanished.
And dear friends we are asked the same question — "DO YOU WANT TO BE MADE WELL?" Again, this sounds crazy to us. Of course we want to be made well. But look around you. On the outside we all look and sound like there are no worries no concerns in our lives. We give off the assumption that life is grand. But as Marshall Hayden wrote in an article entitled, "Would Every Non-Hurter Please Stand Up?" He pointed out people come to church wearing their best clothes & their best smiles. Everybody looks happy, so we assume everything is okay. But he suggests we need to look beyond the facade and realize that the pews are full of hurting people.