I remember, back a few years when I was pretty much at my worst regarding my arthritis. My wife would have to help me get dressed in the morning and undressed at night. She’d help me get in and out of bed. She’d help me to stand up from the table and she’d help me get into and out of the car. To get around on a nice day I used one of those electric scooters. I remember my three-year-old son and I watching from our living-room window as a man walked down the street with his son. It was in the spring and I’d told my son, probably for the third time that morning that I couldn’t go for a walk with him until all the snow was off the road. As we watched this man and his boy, my son looked up at me and said, “Is that a different kind of dad, whose legs work?” My heart aches and it nearly brings me to tears to remember that day. He is such a dear boy.
And then Jesus said, “Do you want to get well?” The paralytic had been spending his day laying by the pool of Bethesda for decades. He’d been crippled for all of his 38 years. Hundreds of people, sick and infirm were laying in the sun as Jesus and his disciples were walking by. Why Jesus chose this man we’ll never know, but choose him He did. Jesus stopped, looked the man in the eyes and asked, “Do you want to be well?”
Like everything else in our relationship with Jesus, we need to be a participant in our growth, in our change. We have to want it. We have to reach out and receive it.
That is what prideful atheists cannot tolerate. If being well means asking for help to get well (atheists call it grovelling), atheists would rather pretend to themselves and to others that there is nothing wrong with them. To all others who are willing to be honest with themselves, Jesus asks, “Do you want to be well? Do you want to be forgiven? Do you want to be freed from guilt, break destructive habits, or restore a broken relationship? Do you want your emptiness filled, do you want a life of meaning and context and purpose, do you want to be rid of bitterness and anger? Do you want to be freed from the power of sin?”
Oh yes. Give me that. Give me a life worth living. Give me Jesus. Thank you Lord.
In case you’re interested - I’ve been healed. I'm on a new medication that has all but eliminated my arthritis. In fact I’m the healthiest that I’ve been in 58 years of living. After 46 years of crippling arthritis (mine started when I was ten years old), if you met me today for the first time you’d never know that I’d had arthritis. Yes, I’d hurt my back in a sky-diving accident and broke my neck in freak water sliding accident so I’m fused and stiff from those things, and my fingers are still twisted and fused - ok - so maybe you'd notice that I'd had arthritis. But all in all it’s like I’ve been given a second chance at life. I now have movement in joints that I'd long ago given up on. I can go for walks and play with my kids regardless of the season. When I hear people complaining about shovelling snow or mowing the grass I think, "Are you kidding me? It's awesome to be able to do those things." The scooter hasn't been used for three years. It sits in the shed along with an assortment of crutches and canes and walkers. In fact my youngest children, who’d only known me as crippled watched one day, three years ago, as I climbed on my bike for the first time in seven years. And as I rode off the driveway and on to the street I heard one of them exclaim, “Dad doesn’t even need training wheels!”