When Jesus saw him and knew he had been ill for a long time, he asked him, “Would you like to get well?” (John 5:6)
Jesus didn’t ask this guy, “Do you have the faith to be healed?” This man wasn’t even thinking in those terms. This guy was locked in on only one kind of miracle.
“Do you want to be healed?” (John 5:6 ESV)
It’s interesting that Jesus doesn’t debate this man’s methodology. He doesn’t belittle this guy’s belief in what may just be a superstitious system.
Jesus just matter-of-factly asks him, “Would you like to get well? Do you really want to be healed?”
There are 183 or so questions contained in the Gospels, depending on the translation. And, on the surface, this question can seem ridiculous. Of course, this man wants to be healed! That’s why he’s been showing up at this pool for the last 38 years.
But years ago one man nailed it when he wrote: “Nothing is more desirable than to be released from your pain and affliction, but nothing is more frightening than to have to give up your crutch.” (James Baldwin, Reader’s Digest, 1/83)
"NOTHING IS MORE DESIRABLE THAN TO BE RELEASED FROM YOUR PAIN AND AFFLICTION, BUT NOTHING IS MORE FRIGHTENING THAN TO GIVE UP YOUR CRUTCH."
This guy’s entire life revolved around being a victim.
For 38 years family, friends and strangers have cared for him. I think this guy had started living in a state that social scientists call, "learned helplessness". In other words, he had developed a deep-seated belief that what he did wouldn’t really make a difference anyway. So he had just given up. That’s evident by the way he responded to Jesus’ question.
“Would you like to get well? Do you really want to be healed?”
“I can’t, sir,” the sick man said… (John 5:7)
I know a lot of human beings that live in a state of “learned helplessness.” They don't believe they're capable of change. They don’t believe their situation can change. They’ve given up on the thought that the power of God can bring change, or that a miracle from God is actually possible.
Some of you are in a situation right now where your back is pinned against the wall.
You are feeling pressure and stress.
You are in the middle of suffering and pain.
You’ve practically given up on the notion that things can change.
But Jesus is crashing your story with this question:
“Would you like to get well? Do you want to be healed?”
Do you remember a character from Winnie the Pooh who lived in a state of “learned helplessness”? This character always felt hopeless and helpless? That's right. His name was Eeyore.
He's the quintessential pessimist. Do you remember one of Eeyore's favorite expressions?
That’s the way some of you feel. I believe that’s the state this man had reached. 38 years of superstition had failed him! 38 years of dead religion had failed him! 38 years of showing up had failed him!
But then one day GRACE and TRUTH HIMSELF — JESUS — came crashing into this guy’s life and asked him, “Would you like to get well? Do you really want to be healed?”
The guy looked at Jesus with his Eeyore answer, “Why bother? I can’t. Nobody’s here to put me into the pool.”
I love the fact that this guy’s authenticity doesn’t fluster Jesus. It doesn’t cause Jesus to hit the panic button. Jesus doesn’t say to himself, “Uh oh, God. I think we’ve got an impossible one here. Guess he’ll just have to suffer.”
That’s not how Jesus responded!
Remember, Jesus was a man who was regularly “MOVED WITH COMPASSION”! So, instead of rejecting this man, Jesus spoke POWER of this man’s WEAKNESS. He spoke GRACE over this man’s REJECTION. He spoke HOPE over this man’s HOPELESSNESS and “learned helplessness.”
Every moment in this man’s life has been leading up to this moment!
Unknown to himself, this man has been on a collision course with the reckless love and amazing grace of God!
One MOMENT can change everything!
One EXPERIENCE with Jesus can change everything!
One ENCOUNTER with the PRESENCE of God, the POWER of the Holy Spirit, the RECKLESS LOVE of Jesus, and, the EXTRAVAGANT GRACE of God can change everything!
One WORD from GOD can change your life!