Now in Jerusalem by the Sheep Gate there is a pool, called in Hebrew Bethzatha, which has five porticoes. In these lay many invalids—blind, lame, and paralyzed. One man was there who had been ill for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him lying there and knew that he had been there a long time, he said to him, ‘Do you want to be made well?’ (Jn. 5:2-6)
I use to harshly judge the man who had lain by the healing pools of Bethzatha for thirty-eight years. If we read through this story, we would see that he had all these reasons why he had never been healed. I thought the man was pitiful—not because of his paralysis, but because of his lame excuses.
I stopped judging that man when I sat at the pools of Bethzatha in the summer of 2015. Sitting there, I realized that I had been unfair to him. Jesus’ question, “Do you want to be made well?” had once seemed so simple; but by then I knew it could be quite complicated.
Do we want to be made well? We need to think before we answer.
Do we want to not be depressed? Seek help. Do we want to have friends? Be a friend. Do we want to be in better shape? Eat right and exercise. Do we want a better marriage? Start within. Do we want a more loving heart? Forgive. Do we want to be less tired? Set boundaries.
Sitting at the pools of Bethzatha I had more empathy for the man because I saw how often I hadn’t followed through on the healing I needed, hadn’t faced the truth I needed to see, hadn’t committed to the changes I needed to make.
Did I want to be well? Of course. Was I always willing to make the changes to be made well? That’s a harder question.
Picture yourself at the pools of Bethzatha. Jesus is there. You, like the man, have your own infirmities. Jesus asks, “Do you want to be made well?”
I encourage you to say yes, by plunging into the healing waters with Jesus, by following through on the healing you need, facing the truth you need to see, and committing to the changes you need to make.
- Jesus is asking you right now this question: “Do you want to be made well?” How do you respond?
- Have there been times when you didn’t want to be made well, didn’t want to forgive, didn’t want to make the changes you needed to make for healing? If so, when? Are you in one now?
- Sitting at the pools of Bethzatha I had more empathy for the man Jesus had once met there. Can you have empathy for yourself when you may not have chosen to be healthy, while also being resolute and committed to seeking healing now?