Some time later, Jesus went up to Jerusalem for one of the Jewish festivals. 2 Now there is in Jerusalem near the Sheep Gate a pool, which in Aramaic is called Bethesda[a] and which is surrounded by five covered colonnades. 3 Here a great number of disabled people used to lie—the blind, the lame, the paralyzed.  [b] 5 One who was there had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. 6 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)
This story in the book of John always makes me wonder exactly what Jesus meant when he asked the man, “Do you want to get well? The passage begins by letting us know that this pool was the place where disabled people hung out in hopes of being healed. So for Jesus to ask the man if he wanted to get well seemed like a hypothetical question.
If you have been struggling with some kind of disability or illness – such as type 2 diabetes – and I asked you if you wanted to get well, what would you say? I’m almost sure you would say, “Of course.” However, you may not stop there. You might go on to say, like the man in the scripture above, “I have no one to help me get better. I have been struggling with this for years. I have to live on medication.” Or, you might say, “My mother was a diabetic, my sister is a diabetic, my brother is a diabetic, I guess I can’t help being a diabetic.”
“Sir,” the invalid replied, “I have no one to help me into the pool when the water is stirred. While I am trying to get in, someone else goes down ahead of me.” Jesus listened to the man’s excuses then said to him, “Get up! Pick up your mat and walk.”
I know there are some people who have been sick for a long time. Doctors may have even told them they will never get well. As an occupational therapist, my job was to help my patients regain their prior level of functioning. If they were independent before their injury, then I had to do my best to restore them to independence. However, if someone came to me who needed assistance for years to shower herself, then I couldn’t hope to get her to function independently.
The man in the Bible story had been disabled for thirty-eight years! That’s a very long time. He’d given up hope. He’d no doubt learned to accept his fate and had decided he would just lie there and watch others get their healing. But Jesus was having none of that. We know the end of the story. Jesus commanded the man to get up and walk, and he did.
Well, you might say, “That’s just a Bible story. Jesus won’t come and heal me.” Maybe He won’t come physically and heal you, but He might require you to do certain things that will bring about your healing. First, you can pray. Amazing things happen when you pray. Through prayer you receive insight, knowledge, and wisdom about your condition and the steps you must take in order to be healed. Maybe God will show you that you need to change the way you eat, how you can become more active, quit smoking or make some simple lifestyle changes.
Notice, Jesus didn’t say to the man, “Wait a little longer. Someone will come along.” Or, “Call a little louder and someone will hear you.” All He said was, “Get up! Pick up your mat and walk.” Why? Because it was crucial for the man to seize the moment. It was time to stop waiting and take action. This man waited thirty-eight years! Think of what he could have accomplished during that time. You could be losing precious time if your illness is keeping you from being all you can be. So, why not start now? Why not get up, take your bed and walk to your recovery? Don’t wait a second longer.
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