Most of us would answer this question in the affirmative. However, there’s a story in John 5 that deserves close examination, where Jesus asks a man this very same question and gets another response. The man at Bethesda, who has been sick for 38 years—paralyzed physically—dodges the question entirely. Let’s take a look:
“Some time later, Jesus went up to Jerusalem for one of the Jewish festivals. Now there is in Jerusalem near the Sheep Gate a pool, which in Aramaic is called Bethesda and which is surrounded by five covered colonnades. Here a great number of disabled people used to lie—the blind, the lame, the paralyzed. One who was there had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. 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?’
‘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.’
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.”
The word “paralyzed” was actually used in Greek literature for people that had shrunken limbs. This is important, because this man wasn’t simply shrunken in body—he was shrunken in spirit. He had been there almost forty years, and we’re about to see that his will to get well had all but left him. When we shrink ourselves to make insecure people comfortable, or we stay small to satisfy people who refuse to grow, we are also lying at the pool of Bethesda.
Jesus asks this man a very pointed question: “Do you want to get well?” We know that Jesus is about to heal him. So why does He ask this question? Because we are not just body. We are spirit, soul, and body. God wants to fix our problem, but only after He fixes our “want to”—what’s going on inside of us. One of the great generals of World War I said this: “The most powerful weapon on earth is a soul set on fire. And the most self-defeating weapon on earth is a heart that’s given up.” Jesus had to call this man out of not only his physical paralysis, but his spiritual paralysis.
Here’s a question to reflect upon: are there any areas of your life in which you’ve become spiritually paralyzed over time? Maybe you’ve lost hope for breakthrough, or lost sight of God’s hand working in that area of your life. God wants to help! He doesn’t just care about your body, but about your heart! Give those areas over to Him today, and tell Him that you want to be made well!
Dr. Derek Grier