To The Addict and those Struggling with Sin- Do You Want to Be Healed?

Image result for the pool of bethesda

38 years is a long time. It is a lifetime for some. A lot can happen over that time.  A lot can also not happen over 38 years.  For those trapped in continuing sin and addiction, 38 years can feel like 10 lifetimes of nothing happening.  Time moves slower in some ways while being imprisoned by sin.  The constant question of why I can’t get out of this trap on repeat in our brains.  The constant cycle of indulgence followed by guilt and shame and determination followed by indulgence.

38 years is the time that the man Jesus encounters by the pool of Bethesda is said to have been paralyzed before meeting Jesus.  For all those years he was not healed of the paralysis that left him lying by the pool waiting on an empty hope. For almost 4 decades he was trapped under the control of a condition that left him in a terrible shape.  For almost 40 years he was a slave to a malady that we learn was ultimately caused, at least in part by his sin.  The only reason he did not make it to 40 years paralyzed because he encounters Jesus.  When He meets Jesus everything changes – but that change necessarily involved a choice, Jesus or his sin – who did He want to follow more?  Jesus puts it in the form of a simple question:

“Do you want to be healed?”

If you recall the story in John 5, the paralyzed man is described as laying by the pool of Bethesda every day waiting for the stirring of the waters.  There was the belief at that time that the first one in the pool after the water was stirred by an angel would be healed of whatever it was that ailed him.

The problem was that the man, being paralyzed and placed near but not in the pool can’t get to the pool.  He has no actual hope of getting there when the water got stirred up.  He had no one to help him.  He was stuck in a position near the cure for his problem, it was obvious and just in front of him, but due to his ailment he believed could never take advantage of what he believed was cure for his problem.  His disease stopped him from taking advantage of the healing.

It would also appear that this was not his first day lying there. Each day, he would be helped to his position lying helpless next to the pool and spend his days hoping in his powerlessness that somehow, someway the pool would be stirred up and truly somehow, someway he would get to that pool first and be healed. He believed that his hope to escape his life of pain and struggle was completely out of his control.  It was just impossible for him to be healed.  According to his viewpoint, there was nothing he could do to make it better – he was stuck a prisoner of his disease with no hope, no solution and no way to go from stuck to set free.

Then He meets Jesus.  Yay!

Jesus sees the man lying there and knows that he had been lying there a long time and gets directly to the point and asks a simple question:

Do you want to be healed?

It is a question dripping with meaning for the situation because we learn later in the passage that the man’s sin has played a part in his predicament.  We don’t know exactly how, but it is clear that it did since after Jesus heals him, Jesus tells him to go and sin no more.

It was sin that had left him exactly where Jesus found him — desperate, alone, stuck, in sight of healing but never, ever able to reach that healing on his own because of his sin.  This is what sin does to us.  Our choice to indulge in sin knocks us down and tries to keep us down, all the while telling us that healing is out of our control.

Those struggling with drugs, alcohol, porn, or the myriad of other addictions out there, is this hitting home with you?  Has sin left you so under its thumb that you are left its prisoner, bound to its power but at the same time desperate to be rid of it. Are you fighting to hold onto your sin while at the same time being destroyed by it?

Are you layed out completely by your sin, unable to bridge the distance between lying on your own mat knocked down by your addiction and the healing that you think you want desperately, but that seems so far away?  It is because of your sin that it seems so far away — freedom is in reality just right in front of you.

I still remember being at this exact spot, feeling the huge consequences of my alcohol dependence and in some ways wanting to be healed, but not able to comprehend what life looked like without booze.  My mind and my life were so intertwined with alcohol and all things related that over and over again when Jesus asked me that great question:

Do you want to be healed?

My answer truthfully was no.  I did not want to be healed.  I would have said yes at the time but I would have been lying — it is what addicts do.

I wanted to not feel the consequences of my actions.  I wanted to make the voices bugging me about drinking stop bugging me.  I wanted to feel better and blame my parents for my choices, excuses are fun aren’t they, but no, I really did not want to be healed.  Not really.  So recovery efforts and religion efforts just did not work – I was so close to the one who would eventually save me so many times but I turned Him away again and again.

The man at the pool of Bethesda is similarly not ready to give up his sin and his excuses, he responds to Jesus’ simple question with excuses;

Sir, I have no one to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up, and while I am going another steps down before me.

You don’t understand how hard I have it Jesus.  My family was abusive.  My job is hard.  My marriage is in ruins.  I am co-dependent.  I was hurt really badly. (These were just my excuses).

Did Jesus ask the man anything about the pool or his problem with other bathers?  No, Jesus already knows all of this.  He knows the hurt and the pain and what got us to where we are today.  It is what makes him weep.  But rather than just join our pity party or go round and round with the man,  He asked the simple question:

Do you want to be healed?

And then despite the complete and total lack of understanding of the man, Jesus goes ahead and heals Him.  Why?  Because He is just that great.  He is the healer, it is what He does.

Also, I believe He heals the man for our benefit – so that we can read this account and see each one of us in the man caught in the trap of his own making and stuck as a result.  So we can see clearly the way out – Jesus came along and set him free in a moment.  Completely totally free.  It is our example.

Do you want to be free of the addiction that is killing you?  Do you want to be free of the sin that is destroying you?

Then answer Jesus’ question:

Do you want to be healed?

Yes, LORD I want to be healed, truly totally completely by you — and Jesus will take it from there.  It may not be as simple as taking up your mat and walking, but Jesus is faithful and will set you heal you if you truly wish to be be healed and you trust in Him.

So answer Him today!

 

 

 

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