Summary: Third in a series on "Who is this Jesus?" based on the 7 signs in the Gospel of John; the main emphasis is on becoming spiritually well.

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“Do you want to get well?”

A friend and I were talking some time ago and both of us agreed that it had been a long time since either of us had felt completely well. There was nothing seriously wrong with us, just a general weariness, sinus problems, and mysterious aches. It would just be nice to feel 100 % more often than not. Most of us over 30 feel that way and we seek out holistic or alternative remedies as a result.

For decades thousands of people trekked out to a place called Evan’s Plunge in South Dakota, believing that the mineral waters there had healing powers. Spend some time in the tepid waters and feel your problems wash away. Someone at some time must have claimed healing of something in those springs and a legend was born. Tests were done, however, and it was discovered that the waters contained no healing properties whatsoever.

Canadians are more likely to travel to Wattress, Saskatchewan to sit in those potent waters. Again the general feeling is that those waters can heal all kinds of ailments. Abe Esau’s mother slipped in the pool trying to help Abe get his own footing…she went under getting a nose-full. She found that this actually cleared her sinuses. I tried the same water and found it did nothing for me.

But we try these things because we want to be well. And we try a host of other remedies, herbal based, reflexology, stress management, kinesiology, homeopathy, diet, exercise…you name it. Many people are finding help in some of these alternative healing methods. But the remarkable thing about them is that people are discerning, more and more, that the actual healing is in none of them. They can remove some of the obstacles to healing. They can help to evoke it, but the healing itself is in the power of God.

Do you want to get well?

1. The Situation: Everyone is sick

The pool they called Bethesda in Jerusalem had a mystic aura that drew the sick, the lame, the blind and the paralyzed. Legend said that if a person could slip into the pool when the water mysteriously rose up, there was a good chance that person could be healed. It was said that an angel troubled the pool and created a source for healing.

Archeologists believe that they found this very pool in the 1960’s with its five colonnades. They also found that, like other pools in the area, that it was fed by an intermittent spring. At times water was released in surges from hidden reservoirs in the hills causing the pool to rise and fall suddenly. Here is where fact was overshadowed by superstition. Some people may have been healed there, but it only heightened the legend and the hopes of the ill.

Jesus walks into this situation and picks out one man who had been invalid for 38 years. He could have healed everyone there but he didn’t. Jesus goes to this man who is weak, feeble, and unable to stand, because of some wasting disease. Why this one man? Jesus was very intentional about this choice. He wanted to reveal something about himself.

We might surmise that he wanted to show us how God proposes to deal with human weakness and helplessness. This helpless man does symbolize us in a way. We can all see ourselves as weak in a sense, or helpless, or paralyzed by our pasts, our fears, unable to do the thing we want to with our lives. Everyone is sick in one way or another. How can Jesus help?

2. The Question: Do you want to get well?

“When Jesus saw him lying there and learned that he had been in this condition for a long time, he asked him, “Do you want to get well?”

“What a strange thing to ask! I am sitting here by this supposed pool of healing aren’t I? It’s been 38 years and I am sick of being sick. What do you think?” Why would Jesus ask this?

Obviously it was an important question. Do you want to get well? Many people honestly do not want to get well. They don’t want to be helped. Their helplessness gets them the attention they crave. Their weakness is their excuse for not taking responsibility or for helping others.

For this man being healed was frightful. He made a living out of begging. What would he do now if he could walk? Many of the homeless people we meet on the streets of Winnipeg actually make a good living through begging. It’s an art; it’s takes skill to score good dough. And some of those street people make more money than you do. They don’t want help, it would ruin business. They need help, but they don’t want it. The change is too difficult.

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