The Master’s Question

The Master’s Question

Thirty-eight years. That’s a long time. And in that time, for most people, life changes quite a bit.

Where were you 38 years ago? I was seven. My life was MASSIVELY different than it is now. Where will you be 38 years from now? I’ll be 83. And I suspect that my life will likely be just as different. No matter which way we go, after 38 years, life looks a lot different.

But, not for this man. We don’t much about him—not even his name. But what we do know is that for 38 years his life didn’t change much at all. 

For 38 years, he was in the same place. It was there by the Sheep Gate. At a pool called Bethesda. Beneath the colonnade was a group of people for whom life didn’t change much. They were the blind, the lame, and the paralyzed. Life had handicapped them. They were more  defined by what they couldn’t do than by what they could. Their maladies made them unable to work, worship, or live normal lives. And among them was a man who had been there for 38 years.

For 38 years, he had truly been in the same place—not just geographically, but physically, emotionally, relationally, and spiritually! For nearly four decades, nothing changed in his life. Until one Sabbath day, when a man like no other came in and changed everything.

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?” 

What strikes me most is The Masters’ question before the miracle: “Do you want to get well?” You would assume that of course he wanted to get well. After 38 years, who wouldn’t? But, Jesus was absolutely asking the right question. 

Not every sick person wants to get well. It’s hard to imagine, but for some, being sick is better than being healthy. Being sick garners more sympathy, requires less responsibility, and receives far more charity. For some, being a victim is their identity, and for them, a far more advantageous one. Jesus certainly understood that not every sick person wants to get well.

Then Jesus said to him, “Get up! Pick up your mat and walk.” At once the man was cured; he picked up his mat and walked.

With eight words, Jesus changed that man’s entire life. For the first time in 38 years, that man could move. Can you imagine what that was like for him? After 38 years of being helpless, Jesus healed him. 

We are all spiritually sick. And though the symptoms vary from person to person, the disease is always the same: sin. For those who truly seek to get well, scripture points us to Jesus, the Great Physician. And no matter the illness, we know that, in His hands, all will be well. 

The only question that remains is, “Do you want to get well?”