Saturday, October 9, 2010

Are You Settling for Better? (John 5:1-15)

At first glance, Jesus’ question to the sick man sounds strange. “Do you want to get well?” Of course the invalid wants to get well. But maybe he hasn’t thought about it in a while. After all, thirty-eight years is a long time to be sick. Has he stopped imagining what it’s like to be well—to walk on his own—to move without being carried by someone else?

The longer we are disabled—by fear, anxiety or anything else that cripples us—the harder it is to believe that things can be different. At some level, we hold onto a thread of hope, but we don’t put the weight of our future on that thread. As time passes, our situation becomes familiar. It may not be pleasant, but it doesn’t always seem as bad as it really is.

Notice that Jesus did not ask, “Do you want to get better?” or “Do you want to improve the quality of your life?” Getting a bit better was all the sick man hoped for. He didn’t expect perfect and permanent healing; he just hoped for improvement. If only I had someone to put me into the therapeutic water, he thought. That was the only solution he could imagine. It may have helped, but it would never be enough.

When we’ve been crippled for a long time, we begin lowering our expectations. A little improvement, we think, and we can cope. But Jesus offers us more—much more.

Jesus asks us the same question he asked the man at the pool of Bethesda. He looks us in the eye and asks, “Do you want to get well?”

We’re afraid to say yes. If we don’t hope, we can’t be disappointed. But Jesus waits for an answer, an honest answer. Even while we’re listing reasons why we can’t get well, Jesus moves us to action. “Get up!” He says. “Pick up your mat—what you’ve been resting on and relying on—and walk.” Suddenly we realize that we can.

We can walk, one step at a time, because Jesus walks with us—even through the valley of the shadow of death. Our healing may not happen instantly, as it did for the man at Bethesda, but it will happen. One day, we will stand before Jesus completely well.

“Now may the God of peace himself make you holy in every way, and may your whole being—spirit, soul, and body—be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do this” (1 Thessalonians 5:23-24 ISV).

Copyright © 2010 Sherrie Lorance. All rights reserved.

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