“Do you want to be healed?”, Jesus asked the paralysed man laying by the Pool of Bethesda in John 5:1-16.
At first glance, it would seem to be a strange question to ask a man who has been paralysed for 38 years. “Are you blind? Can’t you see my condition? Of course I want to be healed!”
But the answer isn’t always thot obvious.
I shared on Sunday from this text. And I shared about my friend ‘Tom,’ who had been suffering from childhood with a condition that became more disabling with every passing year.
There were certainly many things he wished he could do, such as enjoy the simple pleasure of climbing a tree.
But there were many benefits to being disabled that he wasn’t prepared to give up – his disability pension, discounted medications, parking by the door of the supermarket, even a degree of courtesy from more abled people.
Tom’s answer would have been “No thank you. I’m quite happy here.”
I wonder how many of us become so comfortable with our condition – whatever it may be – that we no longer seek, and no longer want, to be healed?
I wonder if that may be why some don’t get healed when they come for prayer? “It seemed like a good idea at the time, but really, I can take it or leave it.” Maybe, maybe not.
And I wonder if that may have something to do with why some seem to get ‘healed’ at the time, but tomorrow or next week, the condition is back just as bad as it was when they presented for prayer. That has often been my own experience when I get prayer for my bad back.
Have you ever noticed that Jesus never seemed to have a problem with partial healings or temporary healings? When He prayed for healing, the person got healed, properly healed, permanently healed.
And have you ever noticed that Jesus rarely even prayed for someone to be healed. Mostly, He just said a word. “Rise” [Jn 5:8], “Go” [Jn 4:50], and the person was healed.
So why do we feel the need to pray long-winded prayers? And why do we usually only – at best – see a slight and temporary improvement in the person’s condition?
Is it because our own faith is so small that we are trying to convince ourselves? Have we learnt to “…babble on and on like the pagans, who think God will hear them better if they talk a lot” [Matt 6:7]?
Why is our experience so different from Jesus’ experience?
I could be wrong, but I have an inclination that the biggest difference is that Jesus only did what He saw the Father doing [see Jn 5:19].
Nothing more, nothing less. If the Father said “Heal this man,” then Jesus spoke the life-giving word and he was healed.
If the Father said, “Don’t heal,” then Jesus said nothing. After all, there were crowds of invalids by the Pool of Bethesda, yet Jesus only healed that one person.
I find that challenging and convicting. I’m convinced we should be spending more time trying to know the mind of God for any situation, and less time trying to pump up our own faith levels with wordy prayers.
Maybe then we will actually pray for less people, but see more get properly healed.
And let’s face it, the level of my faith, and the level of faith of the person seeking prayer, is much less important than the sovereign power of God.
Think about this. This man by the pool displayed zero level of faith, and Jesus healed him anyway.
Sadly, he displayed zero level of gratitude too. But that’s another story…