Friday, March 25, 2011
Why we stay stuck (Part 4 / Conclusion)
What did Jesus ask? Let's look at verse six in its entirety now: "When Jesus saw him lying there and learned that he had been in this condition for a long time, he asked him, "Do you want to get well?"
Over the last few days we have talked about the fact that there are a lot of people don’t really want to be healed; they don’t really want to be made whole.
Saying “yes” to Jesus’ question means two things. First we must admit that we are hurting. Some of us, if Jesus were to walk up to us right now and ask, "Do you want to get well?" We would probably say, “What do you mean, Lord? I’m fine, really. Don’t worry about me; go help my friend, he’s the one with problems.” "Do you want to get well?" If you do, it means admitting you’re hurt to yourself, to God, and maybe even to a few trusted friends.
But that’s not all. Saying “yes” to Jesus’ question also means that we must choose healing over hurt. When Jesus asked, "Do you want to get well?" it isn't a rhetorical question, nor was he being flippant. But some of us choose to hold on to our hurts, because we would rather complain. We’re not done seething in anger at those who hurt us, because we know it’ll take work to get better, and besides, we kind of enjoy the sympathy we get, or the attention, or the feeling of playing the martyr.
But He keeps asking, "Do you want to get well?" If you do, then there's one more gem to be mined from this short passage. And that is, what Jesus said. Look at verse 7. After Jesus asked the crippled man by the pool, "Do you want to get well?": "Sir," the invalid replied, "I have no one to help me into the pool when the water is stirred. While I am trying to get in, someone else goes down ahead of me."
Let's look at what he’s really saying about the depth of his hurt? He’s saying, “I’m not only crippled, but (a) I am friendless, I have no one to help me, (b) I am flailing, straining and struggling and its tough, and (c) I am frustrated because someone else goes down ahead of me.
Isn't that how we sound in the middle of our hurts? We feel friendless, flailing and frustrated? But it’s what happens next. In verses 8 and 9:“ Then Jesus said to him, "Get up! Pick up your mat and walk." At once the man was cured; he picked up his mat and walked.
Jesus apparently didn’t touch the man, or even point to him. He said, "Get up! Pick up your mat and walk." John doesn’t tell us whether it was Jesus’ words, or a wave or just his will that healed the man. But it’s clear that Jesus had the power to heal him, and he did. Jesus told a man who couldn’t even drag himself into the pool to get up. And the man did! Why? How? I believe it’s because, for some reason, this man believed that Jesus could heal him. And I also believe that there are hurting people who need to believe that Jesus can heal them too.
The Bible says, He heals the broken-hearted and binds up their wounds (Psalm 147:3). And, this is what the high and lofty One says-- he who lives forever, whose name is holy: “I live in a high and holy place, but also with him who is contrite and lowly in spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly and to revive the heart of the contrite” (Isaiah 57:15).
God is able and willing to heal your hurts, and I believe he is saying to you this morning, “I am with you. I want to revive your spirit and restore your heart.” Jesus said to the man by the Pool of Bethesda, "Get up! Pick up your mat and walk." In other words, I think God is saying to many of us, “It’s time to leave your hurt behind. Pick up your mat and walk. Choose healing over hurt. Take the first step.”
So why do you (we) get stuck and stay there? I am told that Albert Einstein defined insanity as doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.
Therefore, like the pool guy, we must be insane. How many times have you done something that either didn't (never) work out or you knew was going to be detrimental to you? Three or four times? Three or four years? How much of your life have you wasted sitting by the pool, waiting for your luck to change while the whole world passes you by?
Sadly, most of us stay stuck because we choose. We don't like what we are getting, but we are too ____________________ (stubborn, lazy, stupid, comfortable, you can fill in your own favorite time-worn excuse) to do something radically different. We too often find a sad kind of comfort in the familiarity of our circumstances, no matter how painful they may be.
My hope and prayer is that the next time you find yourself on that familiar path, you will stop and ask yourself, “What am I hoping to accomplish by doing this?" One of two things will happen:
a) You will choose the same path, the same plan, the same person, but this time should own up to it, or
b) You will laugh at your foolishness, say "What was I thinking?" and turn a different way.
And if you choose plan "B" you can reclaim your life, rather than going through the motions of merely existing. You can go where you want with a purpose.
You can pick up you mat and walk.