I’m not aware that I’ve ever preached on this passage of scripture before today. The gospel reading from John tells of a man who waited thirty-eight years to be healed, waiting by the waters of the pool of Beth-zatha, near the Sheep Gate in the Temple in Jerusalem, for the waters to be troubled. When the waters were troubled, the first one to enter was healed. But he was never first.
Jesus encounters him. He doesn’t offer to take him to the water. He asks him directly if he wants to be healed. The man explains why he hasn’t been able to be healed. Jesus commands him to get up now and walk; the man does.
It’s striking to me that Jesus doesn’t beat around the bush. He asks the man directly what he wants. The man doesn’t answer directly. Jesus doesn’t follow the man’s lead; he tells the man to act on his desire, if it truly is his desire. Jesus does this again and again in scripture. He tells us to take the first step, to own the desire to be healed.
In the sermon below, I wonder about the crowd that saw this man not be healed for thirty-eight years and who didn’t help him. But I also wonder about what it means for us to respond to Jesus’ question. Do we *want* to be healed? Will you do as Jesus commands?