Sunday, January 8, 2017

Never Forced

It really seems like such a strange and unnecessary question.  "Do you want to be made well?" (John 5:6)  This was the question Jesus put to a man who had been an invalid for thirty-eight years.  Every day of those years he went to the Pool of Bethzatha hoping that it would be a day when he would be first into the pool when its waters stirred.   Tradition had it that an angel would stir the waters and the first sufferer in those stirred waters would be made well.  Surely, Jesus should have been able to figure that the man was there hoping to be healed.  Still, He asked the question.
As unlikely as it might seem, the man might not want healing.  As a sufferer for thirty-eight years, no one expected him to hold down a job.  He depended on others to get him where he needed to be.  His initial response to Jesus sounds more like whining and self-pity than anything else.  As strange as it might seem to some, this man by the pool may have been very comfortable with his life the way it was.  No expectations and no responsibilities.  So, the question of Jesus is more than valid.  Not every sick or broken person wants to be made well.  Some would rather stay as they are.  It is easier.
The encounter the man by the pool had with Jesus that day was not one he initiated.  Jesus was the one who saw him, had compassion, and reached out to him.  But, to look closely at Jesus' response is to hear him still giving the man an "out."  He said, "Stand up, take your mat and walk."  (John 5:8)  It is up to him.  He could hear Jesus and say, "But, I can't."  It was his choice.  Never does Jesus force Himself or the good things of His Kingdom on anyone of us.  What He offers we can receive as a blessing, or choose to ignore.  It is our decision.

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