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  • kendalllasseigne


 Most of us are familiar with the gospel story in John 5: 1-16 of Jesus healing the paralytic man at the pool in Jerusalem. It says, “One man there had an illness which had lasted thirty-eight years, and Jesus saw him lying there and knew he had been in that condition for a long time, he said, 'Do you want to be well again?' 'Sir,' replied the sick man, 'I have no one to put me into the pool when the water is disturbed; and while I am still on the way, someone else gets down there before me.' Jesus said, 'Get up, pick up your mat, and walk around.' The man was cured at once, and he picked up his mat and started to walk around.”   

Further on after the man is healed it says, “After a while, Jesus met him in the Temple and said, "Now you are well again, do not sin anymore, or something worse may happen to you.”  


As I was reading this scripture, my first thought was “excuses”, which is odd. Yet this is what’s happening in the scripture with the crippled man. Jesus asks, “Do you want to be well?”, and the man responds with an excuse as to why he has not been healed yet. He gives a long explanation of how others go into the water before him. He rationalizes he has no one to help put him in the pool when the water is stirred up.  


But Jesus didn’t ask him why he was ill for so long. Jesus asked him if he wanted to be well. You would think the man’s immediate response would be “yes” to Jesus. After all, he had been paralyzed for thirty-eight years. But the man doesn’t answer “yes,” instead he makes excuses. This begs us to ask whether the man really wants to be well. It appears that he may have become comfortable with the current state of his condition and changing seems scary. Maybe he is willing to endure his illness because changing would require more effort from him, not effort from others.


There’s one thing I’ve learned in studying scripture. There is always a purpose to what Jesus says and does. So, I began to contemplate this. What was the purpose of Jesus asking him if he wanted to be well? Jesus wants him to look into his own heart and to discern. Does he desire a change in his current condition?   


Before we can answer this question, we have to read further on in the story to understand the full conversation. Later, Jesus sees the man in the temple and says to him, ‘Now you are well again, do not sin anymore, or something worse may happen to you.' This is significant. It demonstrates that once we encounter Jesus, to remain well, we must participate. We must continue to change from our old ways and follow Him. We are to do our part to avoid sinning. We can’t stay in the comfort zone of our current condition. And in this story, the man needs both physical and spiritual healing.


Excuses. We all make them. I know that I make them. Especially when I don’t like my current circumstances, whether it’s illness, relationships, job, etc. It’s in my DNA to want to blame something or someone other than myself for my situation. Sometimes it seems easier to just endure the current negative situation than to face a possible new unknown situation.   That's scary.


I need to “rip off the band-aid” so to speak. It can be painful to look at what I did or need to do to effect change, transform myself, and follow Jesus.  My natural reaction is to be defensive when my error or lack of action is pointed out by someone else who is speaking the truth.   


It’s easier to cast blame than to examine myself. But just like the paralytic at the pool, Jesus asks me (and you) to participate with Him so we can change and remain “spiritually well”. He doesn't want me to remain paralyzed. That means I must let go of what’s comfortable, unpleasant as it is, and trust God to help me change, to make me well.   I need to stop making excuses, let God help me change, and experience a new “well” life following Jesus.


Today, let us hear Jesus call for us to participate with Him to be made spiritually well. Let us stop making excuses like the paralytic and examine ourselves. Let us trust God to help us change, transform, and follow Him.


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