Jesus went up to Jerusalem for one of the Jewish festivals. Now there is in Jerusalem near the Sheep Gate a pool, which in Aramaic is called Bethesda and which is surrounded by five covered colonnades. Here a great number of disabled people used to lie—the blind, the lame, the paralyzed. One who was there had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. 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?” (John 5:1-6)
That seems like such a strange question for Jesus to ask: “Do you want to get well?” Who wouldn’t want to? When we find ourselves with physical sickness, we go all out trying to find a solution to our problem. We are not at rest until we find a way to be healthy again.
However, when it comes to our soul sickness, we often resign ourselves to remaining in an unhealthy state. We might look for someone else to blame for our problems. Or, we might feel that we don’t have the time to attend to such matters. It might be that we don’t think Jesus is really interested in helping us. We just know that deep within our soul something isn’t right and perhaps we just need to live with it.
Jesus offers healing, if we want to be well. The catch is that we have to listen to him and be obedient to his commands. Often this involves confessing our sins. Perhaps it even means going to another person and asking for forgiveness. It means denying ourselves and walking in humility. These simple things are often the most difficult for people to do. We would prefer to seek another answer or wait for the other person to apologize first. Too often, we just live with spiritual illness. Following Jesus’ directions is the most direct way to a healthy soul.
The Jesus of scripture continues to stand nearby and ask, “Do you want to be well?”