Friday, March 17, 2006

Dumb Question? Maybe not . . .

Afterward Jesus returned to Jerusalem for one of the Jewish holy days. Inside the city, near the Sheep Gate, was the pool of Bethesda, with five covered porches. Crowds of sick people - blind, lame, or paralyzed - lay on the porches. One of the men lying there had been sick for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him and knew how long he had been ill, he asked him, "Would you like to get well?" John 5:1-6 (NLT)

For thirty-eight years this man was waiting for a healing. Thirty-eight years.

Jesus first question to the man? Not, "What happened to you?" It wasn't, "How long have you been here?" Jesus already knew that. Jesus first words: "Would you like to get well?"

My reaction to reading this: a very teenagerly "DUH!" The man had only been waiting for nearly four decades for a healing. He had hoped beyond hope that he might encounter miracle at the water's edge. Of course he wanted to be healed; that is why he was there! What was Jesus thinking?

But then I think about my prayers. I ponder the times when I ask Christ to remove some temptation, or help me overcome some difficulty. And I think I can hear Him whispering, "Do you really want to get well, Frank?"

After the man is healed, Jesus tells him to stop sinning. And there is the rub, I think. If I ask Jesus to heal me and He does, I think that means I will have to change. I can't hang on to my old identity. I may profess to dislike who I am, but the fact is I am comfortable in this skin.

The wife and I had our weekly "ER" date last night. One of the main characters in the television show, Carrie, walks with a crutch. She has a degenerative hip disease and has used the crutch her whole life. As her condition worsens, she schedules hip replacement surgery. The operation will relieve her pain, and it will also enable her to throw down her crutch - permanently. Surprisingly, Carrie cancels the procedure, not once, but three times before finally going under the knife. As she explains it to her friend Abby, her disability has become her identity. Without her crutch, she will have to re-learn who she really is.

I think all of us are a little that way. Without my gossip, without my addiction, without my anger, without my lust, (the list is endless) I have to relearn who I am - who I am in Christ.

And so Jesus comes to me in my desperation. He meets me right where I said I hoped He would and he asks, "Would you like to get well?"

I guess it isn't such a dumb question after all.

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