This week’s message is about coming to terms with what you really want and choosing to do something about it.
In other words, you have to be honest with God about what you want, then get up! Get going! Move on!
It is up to you. Do you want to be healed? Do you want to be well? It might sound a little harsh, but according to the following story, the message is clear: it is up to you.
We first have to recognize the relationship between our condition and our choices. Then, we have to choose to put our trust in God–time and time again.
To trust in God is the opposite of walking in sin. And sin, according to the following story, causes illness. It seems slightly too simple to be true, but that does not mean that this message is easy. Our human nature is quite stubborn–especially in a society that constantly deems humans as victims to their circumstances.
Read the following story from the book of John. Let’s get it straight from the mouth of Christ.
The Healing at the Pool
John 5:1 S
Some time later, Jesus went up to Jerusalem for one of the Jewish festivals. 2 Now there is in Jerusalem near the Sheep Gate a pool, which in Aramaic is called Bethesda[a]and which is surrounded by five covered colonnades. 3 Here a great number of disabled people used to lie—the blind, the lame, the paralyzed.  [b] 5 One who was there had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. 6 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?”
7 “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.”
8 Then Jesus said to him, “Get up! Pick up your mat and walk.” 9 At once the man was cured; he picked up his mat and walked.
The day on which this took place was a Sabbath, 10 and so the Jewish leaders said to the man who had been healed, “It is the Sabbath; the law forbids you to carry your mat.”
11 But he replied, “The man who made me well said to me, ‘Pick up your mat and walk.’ ”
12 So they asked him, “Who is this fellow who told you to pick it up and walk?”
13 The man who was healed had no idea who it was, for Jesus had slipped away into the crowd that was there.
14 Later Jesus found him at the temple and said to him, “See, you are well again. Stop sinning or something worse may happen to you.” 15 The man went away and told the Jewish leaders that it was Jesus who had made him well.
Jesus very clearly asks the invalid if he wants to be well. I don’t take any of Jesus’ words lightly, so think for a moment about why he might ask this question. Think of the last time you asked a question in which the answer seemed obvious. What was the purpose of the question? To make a point, right? We ask rhetorical questions because we are trying to prove something.
In this case, I think that Jesus wanted the crowd to hear the man’s ridiculous response: he did not even answer Christ’s question; rather, he blamed his condition on others. Then, fittingly, Jesus says, “GET UP!” Clearly, the crowd and this man needed to learn the lesson of personal responsibility. Jesus did not gently say, “be healed, my dear child….” He said, essentially, “so you really want to be healed? then do something about it! get up! stop blaming the world! stop blaming God! this is your life! You must make the first move! Stop choosing to be sick if you really want to be well!”
It seems strange to think that anyone would choose sickness over health. And yet, it is our human nature to choose the forbidden fruit over life–time and time again… I believe sickness can be emotional, mental, spiritual, or physical. Humans are sick in many different ways–and often we have undiagnosed and/or untreated sicknesses…
Also, many times we become comfortable in our “sick” role. It is easy for us to stay stuck in family sickness and dysfunctional roles. It is lot easier to stay stuck than to get out of our comfort zones and actually change! These comfort zones become our identities. And when this happens, we are in need of a real some REAL help. Some TRUTH to break through the darkness caused by years of living a lie.
To let go of sickness is often more painful than the sickness itself. Does this sound familiar? Is their a habit, a thorn, an “issue,” that you have been holding on to for many years? Does this “thing” bring you some sort of comfort and identity? is it easier to be sick than well for you? Is it easier to be a victim than to take personal responsibility?
Later on in the story, Jesus tells the man he healed to stop sinning or his condition would come back worse than it was before (v 14).
Interestingly, Jesus does not point to a particular action or behavior. He just says don’t “sin” anymore. If there is no specific action involved, what is sin? Could it really be that sin has nothing at all to do with the action, and everything to do with the heart? The motive? And if so, what is that motive?
This is general. Sin? What sin? Shouldn’t we know what NOT to do! What? This does not sound much like my experience with Christians: Don’t have sex outside of marriage, don’t smoke, don’t drink alcohol, don’t be selfish, don’t use curse words (swear), don’t get mad, don’t conflict (fight), don’t dance, don’t show too much skin…
According to most of the Christians I have known over the years, the above mentioned “acts” are all SINFUL! SIN! SIN! SIN! Did Jesus mention any of them? If you are one of these “Christians,” I hate to disappoint you, but Jesus does not seemed too concerned with the particulars of the masses. He knows everyone is created with unique qualities and unique weaknesses.
It seems here that Jesus is concerned about an individual’s heart. Who knows the exact “SIN” to Jesus was referring!?! Jesus does not mention it. It is obviously between that man and Jesus. It is quite possible that this guy’s sin was blaming others for his issues. Or maybe he had issues with being judgmental of others (which is a form of blame). Or maybe he was proud and arrogant. Maybe he had an issue with gossiping…. The list goes on. So, what is the lesson?
Going back to the Garden of Eden, the motive of sin was to be “like God.” This points to a need to control versus trust and obey. So, each person’s sin looks different. It is not for us to say what another man’s sin is. It is us for us to say this, though: TRUST GOD. OBEY GOD.
Trust and obedience leads will lead to your healing. Trust means that we take risks to move forward and let God be in charge of the outcomes. To obey is to Love. Love God. Love self. Love others.What that looks like is between you and God. And that is that. Maybe your sin does not look like someone else’s. Maybe you are stuck because you are harboring resentment. Maybe you are stuck because you are “playing” God. Maybe you are sick because you are trying to control outcomes instead of simply doing your part: FOLLOWING THE GOLDEN RULE.
Ask yourself this: Am I truly treating others the way I would treat Jesus–to his face? If you are not treating others the way you would treat Jesus, then stop complaining about your sickness and start loving others the way you think you love JESUS. Look at yourself in the mirror and ask yourself: AM I REALLY A FOLLOWER OF CHRIST? AM I WILLING TO LET MY EGO DIE A PAINFUL DEATH FOR SOMEONE ELSE? If you are not willing to do this, then have fun being sick–because that is all you will ever be. There is a cost to true healing.
Prayer: Dear Lord, help me to get out of my own way. Help me to not PLAY GOD in my life and in others’ lives. Help me to trust and obey you by obeying your commands: LOVE YOU, LOVE MYSELF, and LOVE OTHERS.