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The Desire To Be Made Whole

John 5:1-6
Some time later, 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 paralysed. 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?’ (NIVUK)

This episode in Jesus' ministry took place in Jerusalem.  The pool of Bethesda (its name meant ’House of Provision’) was originally a watering place for sheep outside the city walls, but had been built up to become a sanatorium or hospice where many chronically ill people were brought.  They had shelter from the hot sunny days and cold nights in the alcoves between the supporting columns, and many would have family who visited to provide personal care.  

The man who features in this narrative was paralysed and had been unable to care for himself for thirty-eight years.  Nobody came to give personal or medical care, no-one sat with him to help him, and he saw himself as having no hope for the future.  It was enough for him to exist and, provided food was brought from time to time, he could do that.

Jesus asked him, "Do you want to get well?"  It may seem a strange question, but a long period of chronic illness leaves many without self-respect or hope.  Indeed, their lifestyle is dictated by their illness - which may have been considered to be due to some sin in the family (John 9:1-2).  It was a hopeless existence.   Even today, it is not just the physically sick who feel like that, but many who are burdened with impossible problems eventually lose the desire for things to change (Luke 13:11).   Indeed, if they did change, some would feel the challenge of a new lifestyle might be too difficult to handle.

Through this true story many people have heard the Lord ask them, ‘Do you want things to change?’  It is an important question, for often it is easier to stay where we are, and even its unpleasantness becomes comfortingly familiar.  The same is true about sick hearts and sinful souls who need to repent.  So today is a good day to review those things in your life which you have believed cannot be changed, and let the Lord ask you if you want Him to intervene.

Gracious God. Thank You that You love me. Thank You that You see all the things which are to be made whole because of discouragement or disobedience. Please help me to desire the future that You have planned for me and, where things are not right, to have the courage to tell You that I need to be made whole. And I pray for my friends who cannot see any hope: please help me to introduce them to Jesus, and give them faith to trust Him. In His Name. Amen.
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© Dr Paul Adams