August 21, 2016: Do you want to be well?

Posted on : Aug 18th, 2016 | By | Category: This Sunday's Service

Sometimes, when you “live” with a scripture passage it becomes alive in a new way. This Sunday’s scripture is one of those for me.

This scripture is very hard to understand because it is set in a context which is totally foreign to our way of thinking. But the question Jesus asks is as relevant to us today as it was 2000 years ago. “Do you want to be made well?” Here is an example of what Jesus is saying when he asks us that question.

Thursday morning a number of news outlets ran the same story: “President Obama: Cut Your Vacation Short, Louisiana Needs You.” The story came from a headline in “The Advocate,” Louisiana’s leading news source. The state of Louisiana is in crisis. They are experiencing a flood the likes of which happens only once in a thousand years. This flooding is reminiscent of another once in a thousand year event, the horrible flooding from Hurricane Katrina. Now certainly, the people of Louisiana deserve federal assistance. Their lives and homes are in ruins. However, common sense tells us that the kind of flooding this area has experienced since Hurricane Katrina in 2005 is not a “once in a thousand years event.”

This state has two U.S. Senators who are among the strongest voices that oppose the reality of climate change. Senator David Vitter of Louisiana said, “Evidence from liberals supporting climate change is often based on “ridiculous pseudo-science garbage.” Louisiana’s second senator, Senator Bill Cassidy, also denies the reality of climate change. Both senators regularly mock the scientists who have for years been predicting such horrible effects related to climate change.

So, if Jesus were teaching us today using a life-lesson of our time, he might well go to Louisiana and stand with those mourning the devastation from the flooding and ask, “Do you want this flooding to stop?” And all would immediately yell “YES!” Then Jesus would ask, “Then what are you willing to do to change?” In other words, do you really want to be made well or do you just want to make what ails you go away?

Another example of what this teaching of Jesus means to us today is with addicts and recovery. Almost everyone in recovery says they want to be made well. But the real question Jesus asks us is, “What are you willing to do, to bring about wellness in your life?”

My nephew, who is in recovery, has taught me that every addict has a long list of rationales, reasons and excuses for why she or he uses. A lot of them are very valid. However, in the end, the only way an addict can maintain sobriety is by not using. Only the addict him or herself can say “I am not going to use.” “Do you want to be made well? Then what are you willing to do, to bring about change, wholeness, wellness in your life?

In the months since I chose this passage as part of our “Questions Jesus Asked” series, I often find myself asking: “Dan, do you want to be made well? What are you willing to do to bring about wellness in your life?”

How about you?

More on Sunday.



~ This Sunday’s Scripture ~

John 5:1-18

Jesus asks, “Do you want to be made well?”

From The Inclusive Bible

After healing a young child who was close to death, Jesus went up to Jerusalem. Now in Jerusalem, near the Sheep Gate, there is a pool with five porticoes [covered porches]; its Hebrew name is Bethesda. The place was crowded with sick people – those who were blind, lame or paralyzed – lying there waiting for the water to move. An angel of God would come down to the pool from time to time, to stir up the water; the first one to step into the water after it has been stirred up would be completely healed.

One person there had been sick for thirty-eight years. Jesus, who knew this person had been sick for a long time, asked, “Do you want to be made well?”

“Rabbi,” the sick one answered, “I don’t have anyone to put me into the pool once the water has been stirred up. By the time I get there, someone else has gone in ahead of me.”

Jesus replied, “Stand up! Pick up your mat and walk.”

The individual was immediately healed, and picked up the mat and walked away.

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