Monday, September 20, 2010

Do you Want to be Well?

As we entered the area in Jerusalem close to the Sheep Gate, our tour guide said, this is what is called, “The Pool of Bethesda”, (Greek from Aramaic Beth hesda, meaning, "house of grace"). This was a spring-fed pool with five porches where invalids waited their turn to step in the water that was supposed to have had healing virtue when angels troubled the waters.

I was surprised, thinking, “This is nothing like I had imagined it to be!”

I mused, “I guess there are blind spots in more places than just driving in automobiles!” I just wasn’t making the connection between the old and the modern! The original design of the human mind is good, but not always accurate in terms of a change in culture! This is especially true if the Lord Jesus, Himself, has a special ministry for a man at that pool!

As I tried to imagine what it must have been like for this man who had been there for 38 years, (John 5), my mind went back to the hundreds of times I had played the piano, sung, and ministered in convalescent homes over the years. Gathered together in more modern facilities, the story was the same. Pitifully they would explain to me that they would soon be out, once their family had a place for them to stay; or once the medication they were taking would take effect, or the right doctor would come to see them. It seemed to me that in a sense they were all “waiting for the moving of the water”, the “angel that would go down and stir up the water for their cure, and someone to help them get there.

In this pitiful scene, Jesus comes by and asks him if he wants to get well.

My mind dutifully fills in the rest of the picture again, this time a little more accurate, as I imagine his reply, “Did you ask me if I wanted to get well? Why do you think I am waiting here? The water has amazing healing properties when the angel stirs up the water. I just can’t get people to help me get down there in time!”

Jesus statement now begins to really haunt him, “Do you want to get well?” Several thoughts loom up and clamor for attention, “No one helps me when the water is troubled.”

Much like the sensation of someone telling us that a taxi has arrived, the voice of Jesus rings clear, but full of acceptance, “Get up, pick up your bedroll and walk!” Amazingly he thinks, “Why, yes, I really do want to get well!” He picks up his bedroll and suddenly discovers that he can walk.

In the midst of all this, we need to remember that things are not that different today. What “is” different is the presence of the Lord Jesus as he stops by the pool and asks the man if wants to be well!

It is all too easy to say, “But Jesus cares about sick folk, he is always around places like this. He cares, and we need to care.” That is true, but why would Jesus do it with this man, and not in other cases?

I think there are some folks that are willing to suffer for grander causes, such as seeing their family develop Christian character by modeling what they gave their lives for in the first place. Sure it’s painful, but if it helps to inspire their children and grand children to keep thinking of the legacy they are leaving, they may say, “I’ll suffer and pray, as an illustration of what Jesus did for me on the cross, in implicit trust in the Father.”

Other folks really do want victory over themselves, and their tendency to displease the Lord, in spite of their pain. They want to joyfully accept their circumstances, and be ready for that celestial city.

We need to remember that the curse of death that all are under is permanent. The answer to it is really eternal life, and the ability to address our earthly sojourn in life with that hope.

As I looked at the massive pillars, and the ruins of what had been a beautiful health spa, I thought, “What had been a beautiful, but temporary resting place, had suddenly become a parking lot!”

Once again I hear the clarion call of Jesus’ words, “Do you want to be well?”

As the man leaves the area, he encounters some professionals who challenge his healing, “It is illegal for you to pick up your bed-roll!”

“What? Illegal to be made well?” You almost hear him mutter under his breath, “I am sick of things that do nothing to make a person any better!”

Jesus later meets the man and tells him not to sin any more, lest something worse happen to him.

The man had no authority problems – people who were “control freaks”, so to speak, who had authority problems themselves, had failed to acknowledge their own weaknesses in not telling the sick to call upon God.

It seemed that the reason the man got well, was because he had a God-ordained mission that was to demonstrate that God was bigger than any program.

Accountability and programs are helpful, but always have limitations. They are not the ultimate cure, only places to serve one another in love. Christ is still the Author of all life!

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