We know that Jesus is the “Great Healer,” and He has the power to heal any ailment we have. Yet, when He comes to us, sometimes He asks a question that might sound strange, “Do you want to be healed?” It’s similar to its cousin question, “Do you want your sins forgiven?” In both cases, He’s saying, “I can do this for you, but, first, you must be willing to place your faith in Me.” So, the question remains open, “Do you want to be healed? Do you want to be forgiven?”
John 5:6 (ESV): “When Jesus saw him lying there and knew that he had already been there a long time, he said to him, ‘Do you want to be healed?’”
IT IS EASY TO OVERLOOK the real meat of this story.
Healing, the Jewish religious leaders said, can be done on six other days, but the Sabbath day is a day of rest, and God has decreed that we’re to refrain from working on that day to keep it holy.
It’s a familiar story in the Book of John, of how Jesus heals a man who has been lame from birth, but the story quickly pivots to the fact that the healing took place on the Sabbath, in violation of Jewish law.
But Jesus asks a question valid for all people in all places for all time.
“Do you want to be healed?”
THINK ABOUT IT. We’re apt to say immediately, “Of course, I want to be healed. I don’t want to be lame for the rest of my life … or blind or deaf or … whatever else it might be.”
Yes, I want to be healed.
So, what does Jesus do for the man? Does Jesus heal him right away?
According to John, no. Instead, Jesus tells the man to do something he’s never done before.
He tells him to get up from his pallet (the mat that has been his home for 40 years) and walk, and then bend over from a standing position and pick up the pallet and carry it with him. Implied is that (a) he won’t need it anymore and (b) he can’t just leave it by the side of the road.
Even carrying the pallet is a violation of Jewish Sabbath keeping.
Jesus is testing the religious leaders of the day for missing the point of God’s law, but let’s not overlook the real meat of this story because this story is not just a happy tale of how the Great Healer happened upon a man in distress and cured him — remarkably, unexplainably, and supernaturally.
This is a story for everyone of us for every day of our lives.
IT TURNS ON THE QUESTION Jesus asked the lame man and asks us today: “Do you want to be healed?”
To be healed, fine.
But will it cost us?
What will we need to give up or do, maybe something:
- we’ve never done before,
- out of our comfort zone,
- that will separate us from the crowd or our buddies,
- from our habits.
Do we really want to be healed?
This question has a cousin, another question Jesus asks: “Do you want your sins forgiven?”
“Well, of course!” We’re going to say. “Yes, please do that, kind Sir. Please forgive my sins, wipe my slate clean, erase my debts, forget my trespasses, start me off anew.”
But, do you really want your sins forgiven? All of them?
The shady business deals that are just part of the way things are. The friendships over the years with your drinking buddies. Those secret pleasures that have become the dessert in your boring life. Your private thoughts. Your wishes. Your dreams. No one’s looking. No one will ever know.
Do you want those sins forgiven?
What, like being healed, will it cost you?
IN OUR STORY, JOHN TELLS US that the man gives Jesus a rather strange answer. Instead of saying outright, “Yes, Sir, I sure want to be healed. Can You heal me? Will you heal me?”
No, instead, he tells Jesus a story of woe, of how he lies by the pool day by day, week by week, month by month, year by year — carried to the pool each morning, dropped off, and picked up at the day’s end and carted off, only to repeat the pattern the next day.
He tells Jesus he’s unable to get himself into the pool when the waters are stirred, when the waters contain some magic potion that will heal the distressed. “I have no one to carry me to the water,” he says, mournfully.
Then Jesus tells him something, seemingly unrelated to the man’s story but actually right on point to the man’s life. “You do something. Do something you’ve never done before. Stand up. Go ahead. Stand up, then pick up your pallet, and walk.”
This man’s legs did not function. The muscles had atrophied or never developed in the first place. The synopses that connect the brain to the legs were damaged or never functioned.
But Jesus told him, “Tell yourself to move.”
The man did so. He imagined his brain telling his legs to do something his legs had never done before and, in fact, could not do: to move.
THERE ARE OTHER STORIES in the Gospels where Jesus has directed someone — someone blind, or a leper, or a woman with a hemorrhage, or a centurion with a sick child, or a man carried to the roof of a house and lowered in front of Jesus and the crowd — and Jesus healed them by noticing their faith.
Yes, He possessed the power of healing, but the agent He chose was their response to His power.
Sometimes, He refused to heal the sick because of their unbelief. His power is there to heal, but He heals only where there’s faith, only when someone repents, only when someone truly wants what Jesus offers.
Do you want to be healed?
RETURNING TO OUR STORY in John, the Apostle tells us that as the lame man on the pallet tried to move, at the very moment that the man determined he would comply with Jesus’ directive, at that moment, Jesus healed him.
Healed the synopses connecting his brain to his legs, healed the muscles that never grew, and provided the ability for the man to lift himself off the pallet, right himself, bend over to pick up the pallet, tuck it under his arms, and walk away!
To walk … to be healed … required the man to do something he had never done before — to try to walk.
That took faith, and it was the man’s faith in Jesus that led to his cure.
It’s faith in Jesus that leads to forgiveness of sins.
It’s faith in Jesus that leads to eternal life.
Do you want to be healed?
Of course! Really?
It could cost you something.
Are you willing to pay that price? Will you do what it takes to be forgiven?
Are you willing to repent?
Are you willing to turn your life and soul over to the Master?
Do you want to live?
How much so?
Enough to trust Jesus … in faith … with everything you have, your life, your soul, your dreams, your future … everything.
Do you want to be healed?
O LORD, OUR HEAVENLY FATHER, please heal our broken souls, we pray. Heal our hard hearts, our deceitful tongues, our dishonest hands, our wicked ways. Soften us, O Lord, and make us Your children. Lord, we know that You and You alone are the Great Healer, but You require us to place our faith in You, in response to Your grace, Your calling. We ask for that faith, that faith that can move mountains, faith that proclaims our redemption from the rooftops, faith that shines a light into the dark corners of the world we live in. Lord, for healing, we give You thanks. In Jesus’ precious name, AMEN