“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 5:6
Jesus does this often, doesn’t He?
Here is a disabled man. He’s been lying beside this healing pool for 38 years waiting for the chance to jump in when the water is stirred and be healed. I’m pretty sure he wasn’t there for the scenery or the delightful company. Seems to me the answer is simply ‘Yes.’ How often does Jesus ask us this very obvious question?
Maybe you’ve sent applications to every college you can think of because…well, because you want to go to college and get that education! Duh.
Maybe you’ve gone to every social event the youth department at your church has set up for young singles so that you might finally meet Mr. Right. It should be obvious to Jesus that you want a husband. Duh.
You’re putting in some crazy hours at work – first one in, last one out of the office. What lunch break? Sure boss, anything you need boss. Of course you want a promotion! Duh.
But Jesus wants to get to a deeper level. Because you see, not everybody at church is looking for salvation. You’re there every week, before the service starts. You’re volunteering left and right to usher and welcome guests and send out newsletters. You’re in the church choir. Or maybe you’re the youth leader?! Well done you! But when you’re dealing with your relationship with Jesus, how things look isn’t as important as how things really are. He wants to deal with the truth.
What do you want and why do you want it? “You do not have because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives…” (James 4:2-3) So when Jesus asks this man if he wants to get well, the man replies, “Sir, 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.” (John 5:7) I know I’m good at this…excuses, excuses. Some, very valid too! But firstly, that man’s response does not answer the question he was asked. Secondly, it doesn’t really help him get the healing he needs.
Your excuses will not help you move forward. They give you, well, an excuse to remain bound and sick and helpless and hopeless. There is absolutely no advantage in clinging to all the reasons why you cannot receive your blessing! I love how Jesus doesn’t even entertain the excuses. He just tells the man, “Get up! Pick up your mat and walk.” (John 5:8) Jesus’ instruction only requires him to use what he has right there with him – his legs and his mat.
That’s all he requires of us as well – to use what we have, where we are.
Don’t give him all the reasons why it won’t work. He already knows all those but they don’t matter a whole lot because His power to answer doesn’t depend on you being surrounded by the perfect set of circumstances. So be encouraged to get real about what you want and ask in faith. After that, believe in God’s power and providence and forget all the reasons trying to fill your mind with all the ways your prayers might fail. Finally, obey Him when He tells you to do things that make no sense like “Pick up your mat and walk,” yet you haven’t walked in 38 years.