We've all heard the adage, "there's no such thing as a dumb question." I'm not so sure that's really the case! I have heard some dumb questions in my 28 years so far. "Do you know you're short?" I can't begin to tell you how many times I heard that one growing up. Here's how I would have liked to respond more often than not: "What? I'm short? How did I never notice this? I must have carnival mirrors in my house, 'cause! Thank you for pointing this out to me. All this time I just thought everyone around me was freakishly tall!" On numerous occasions, I have had to answer the phone at work only to have the individual on the other end asks if we, at Sioux Falls Rubber Stamp, actually do make and/or sell rubber stamps. To be totally honest, sometimes I would like to tell them they have the wrong store; they're looking for Subway. Maybe it's just me, but I think whoever came up with this phrase didn't have to deal with people.
And then I grab my Bible and read through the stories of Jesus' life. To be honest, there are times I read these accounts of his interactions with people and wonder what's going through his mind. One such story is found in the fifth chapter of John. You may have heard sermons preached on this passage. You may have even read this story yourself. Often times this story is referred to as "The Healing at the Pool," or "Jesus Heals a Lame Man." If you are reading this, you are smart enough to realize this story is about one of Jesus' miraculous healings.
Before we get into this, some background information might be useful. To begin with, this man is lame. And lame, in Biblical times, wasn't a way of saying he wasn't cool. It means, in the most literal sense, that this man could not walk. If we read this story, we discover that he has been this way for 38 years. To top it off, I don't believe wheelchairs had been invented yet. That means this man is dependent on the mercy of others. We also find out that he spends most of his time laying by a pool; however, he isn't looking for a tan. He is hoping to be healed. And according to legend, this pool--the Pool of Bethesda--is known for it's healing powers. The Bible tells us that an angel will stir the water of this pool at any random time and heal the first to enter. I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that this pool isn't likely ADA compliant; which means every time the water is stirred, he is pushed aside by the less lame (literally and figuratively).
But today will be different. Enter Jesus.
Jesus opens his mouth and utters what can only seem like one of these dumb questions I referred to earlier. "Do you want to get well?" Talk about a dumb question! Every time I read this I wonder what in the world Jesus was thinking. Then my mind wanders to the lame man and I put myself in his shoes--er, I mean sandals. And I can't help but think after laying there day-in and day-out, this man would have some sort of smart remark. "No Jesus, I can actually walk. My friends and family just carry me here to so I can pick up the ladies. The sympathy card works wonders! Of course I want to be healed. I can't walk. I've been this way for 38 years."
However, I tend to think there was more going on here than meets the eye. Given the fact that Jesus is God in the flesh, and circumstances made the answer to his question quite obvious, I can only conclude that Jesus was talking about something not so obvious. You see, God doesn't ask us questions because he lacks information. He's omniscient--that's just a big word that means he already knows it all.
Let's try to unpack this question by looking at it in a different light. Perhaps Jesus was digging deeper and asking things like: Do you really want things to change? Are you ready to leave behind all of the excuses? Can you handle the responsibilities that will become a regular part of life now? Because to be healed changes everything! Sometimes, our healing may come with a price tag. The question then becomes are we willing to pay the cost? Are we willing to do what it takes? Often times, I wonder if we may want to be healed, but aren't ready for the change that it brings.
For some of us, our ailments (physical, mental, and emotional) have come to define us. Believe it or not, there are many people who do not want to be healed. They do not want divine help with their problems. They do not want to be helped out of their weakness. They crave the attention their problems bring. They thrive on the sympathy and pity of others. They sometimes flee assuming responsibility for their own lives. People will openly turn their backs on the deliverance being offered, all because of the responsibility that will now come. Maybe putting this into everyday questions makes this easier to grasp. "Do you really want the promotion or is it just easier to complain about money? Are you ready for the responsibility and sacrifice of being in a relationship, or would you like to wallow in your self-pity?" Bottom line is this--some people just don't want to be healed. It is safer and easier for them to keep living life this way. And as Jesus, in a round about way points out, you cannot help someone that doesn't want to be helped!
So, the question remains, "Do you want to be healed?"