John 5 tells an odd healing story. A sick guy hangs out by what he thinks is the solution to his problem, a healing pool, but day after day fails to have the help and ability to reach his goal. Jesus, the Creator and Healer, walks through crowds of sick people to this particular man and asks the question everyone in that crowd is after,
“would you like to get well?”
Duh! It says this guy was sick for 38 years. The very thing he had been hoping for, waiting for, trying for, crying for, and dreaming of was to be well. Jesus asked a simple yes or no question, and received a list of good excuses.
Deep down inside I love a good excuse. When I ran late to work and hit a patch of bad traffic, phew, now I have a good excuse for my boss. It’s raining so I can’t go running. I’m sick so I have to cancel.
When you are moving homes it becomes a good excuse to stop eating well, exercising, and it gets us out of commitments. It justifies being frazzled, forgetful and overwhelmed. It’s why you are lonely, angry, and resentful.
But the danger in this story isn’t in making excuses but clinging to excuses. We must admit to Jesus we can’t heal ourselves and that we need His power to stand up, pick up and move on. The danger was in choice the man faced, that we all face. Would he obey Jesus or cling to his excuses?
But it is hard to change, even when you want to be well. I want new friends but it is easier to stay on my mat and scroll the FB feed to see what my old friends are up to. I want to get up early and have quiet time with God, I know that will make me well, but it is easier to stay on my mat and snooze another hour. And I want to be settled in my new home but if I finish unpacking the boxes, then I don’t have the excuse that I am still moving in and I love a good excuse.
Jesus is invitational not forceful. He asks to make sure we really want to and are ready to change. Jesus wants to change our attitudes not our circumstances. Jesus wants to change our hearts from broken to healed, change our resentment to grace, and change our selfishness to loving others. He changes our focus from the healing to himself, the Healer. He listens to our excuses yet still graciously empowers us to get up, pick up our responsibilities and move on.
What has you stuck in life? What hopes and dreams seem out of reach? Have you encountered Jesus lately? His invitation stands, “would you like to get well?” The solution to your problems isn’t other people or different circumstances or better resources. Jesus is the Healer. If you believe in Jesus as your Lord and Savior than you are healed. I don’t know if the man felt his healing, saw a physical difference or just had to have faith enough to get up to see if it worked by taking one small step at a time.
The irony of this story is that after his miraculous healing he doesn’t skip off into the sunset, he walks into a bigger problem. He encounters some Jewish leaders who accuse him of working on the Sabbath, an offense punishable by death (See Numbers 15: 32-36). The man reverts right back to excuses, blaming Jesus for telling him to carry his mat. How quickly we can revert to our excuses.
Jesus catches back up with the man and encourages him to stop sinning. What sin is Jesus talking about? He had been invalid for 38 years, he couldn’t have been up to anything too devious. He wouldn’t have corrected him for carrying his mat like the people were trying to accuse him. Jesus was addressing his heart attitude. To stop relying on excuses in life and start relying on Jesus instead. Jesus is Healer, would you like to get well?”