Devotional Reading: John 5: 1-18. Morning Psalm–5; EveningPsalm–27
Text: 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?” (John 5:6)
“Do you want to be made well?” is one of the most insightful questions in the Bible. We automatically think, “Of course, I want to be made well?” but the truth of the matter is that that is not always the case. By asking the question Jesus was asking if the lame man wanted to change. At some level we want to change–we want to get a new job, move to a new place, lose those accumulated pounds, go back to school, be a better parent, be a better spouse, etc., but change means…well, it means “change!” It’s hard. We’ve become quite comfortable where we are, even if we know that it is a bad spot. We want change only if it does not cost us anything. Subconsciously we–or those closest to us–sabotage our efforts at change. I am a stutter. At one point in my life when I was going to begin a new therapy program for stutters someone closest to me wasn’t sure that the therapy was such a good idea. If I wasn’t a stutter, who would I, then, be?
The man’s response to Jesus was not a direct answer to our Lord’s question. It was an excuse–“I have no one to put me in the pool…” (v. 7). The man wasn’t sure he wanted to change. He could say that he was a victim and that was quite acceptable. Being a victim wasn’t really so bad. Jesus challenged him. “Stand up, take you mat, and walk.” At that moment the man had to decide if he was a victim or a victor.
In Lent we say that we will make a change; tradition says that we will give something up. My experience is that it is usually something that we needed to give up anyway but were just afraid to do it; chocolate, sugar, smoking, etc. We’ll do this for 40 days and struggle through, quite proud of ourselves if we succeed. But the gospel reading challenges us: Do we want to make a forever change? Do we want to walk in the path of Jesus? Do we want to be a disciple? Discipleship is not just for 40 days. It is for a lifetime. Do we want to take of risk of not asking God to bless our plans but rather ask God to show us His plans and where we can fit in?
Lord, in the season of Lent let me hear the voice of Jesus ask, “Do you want to get well?” Give me the courage to trust in you. I give to you my life; do what you will, for I am yours. Amen.