Do you want to be made well?
LaVerne, Eleanor, Jane, Roy, Jim, David,
By show of hands, how many of us have some kind of problem, health, aging, economic, spiritual, emotional? How many of us here want to be made well of whatever problem (health, financial, job, spiritual, emotional, relationship) whatever problem, Do we want to be made well? Well do you?
Of course! Who wouldn’t want to be made well? Who wouldn’t want their disease, their addiction, their pain, their suffering, their debt or bills, or abuse who would want that to miraculously disappear.
Jesus question to the man who had been suffering for 38 long years, who had gone to that pool time and time again looking, hoping to be healed, hoping to be made well, whose friends and family must have long ago given up on him, who the good religious folk wouldn’t touch with a ten foot pole, who was all alone in this world– and here comes Jesus’ asking, Do you want to be made well? No, Jesus I just come here for the pool side sights, “Here’s your sign”—as comedian Bill Engvall might joke.
If all we read were just these few verses, it could appear that this is the silliest question. And, that all that’s happening here is just another miraculous healing. But the story doesn’t end with Jesus telling the man to, “Stand up, take your mat and walk.” 9 At once the man was made well, and he took up his mat and began to walk.
Now that day was a sabbath. And that’s where our periscope (the portion of scripture a committee assigns us to read for today)
But it continues, from a translation of the Bible called the Message: The Jews stopped the healed man and said, “It’s the Sabbath. You can’t carry your bedroll around. It’s against the rules.”
11 But he told them, “The man who made me well told me to. He said, ‘Take your bedroll and start walking.’”
12-13 They asked, “Who gave you the order to take it up and start walking?” But the healed man didn’t know, for Jesus had slipped away into the crowd.
14 A little later Jesus found him in the Temple and said, “You look wonderful! You’re well! Don’t return to a sinning life or something worse might happen.”
15-16 The man went back and told the Jews that it was Jesus who had made him well. That is why the Jews were out to get Jesus—because he did this kind of thing on the Sabbath.
17 But Jesus defended himself. “My Father is working straight through, even on the Sabbath. So am I.”
18 That really set them off. The Jews were now not only out to expose him; they were out to kill him. Not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was calling God his own Father, putting himself on a level with God.
So reading the whole story, gives us a better picture of what’s going on. And, if I dare so myself, makes that question sound a lot more reasonable and less ridiculous. What’s behind the question is a whole lot more, like if you wanna get healed it’s gonna cost.
On one hand we know that. We know there’s a cost. If we want to be healing, well that means giving up smoking (and anyone who’s ever tried that once or 12 times knows what that’s like) Any addiction, there’s a cost. If we want to better blood pressure, blood sugars, lower cholesterol, there’s a cost; it’s called exercise and eating healthy (giving up a whole bunch of processed junk food).
But that’s not the only thing going on here. You see, for this man to be made well a whole other price has to be paid. Because his problem is (contrary to ancient and regrettably modern opinion) his problem is not his alone. His problem is cultural, societal, and religious. And fixing this comes at a cost, not just to the man but to Jesus.
You see their whole view of the world, of heaven, of God, was based upon following the laws and the rules. This guy was sick because he must have sinned. It would be a sin to help him into the pool, or to care for him. So this guy’s problems were his own to deal with.
That is until Jesus goes to the man and talks to him, asks him what he wants and then tells him to break the law, to pick up his stuff, and go.
Because that man and each one of us is worthy to be listened to, to be cared for, to be respected. Jesus says to those religious leaders and to us today, that God will do whatever it takes, God will break the rules, over-rule the laws. God will bring healing to each and every one of us; God will bring healing even to our systems, our governments, our economics, God wants it all to be made well. And what we see in Jesus, what we are called to in Christ is to be is a people who know that the healing of Jesus, the gift of the kingdom of God is well worth the cost, and that Yes, we want to be made well, we want all to be made well. Amen.