DO YOU WANT TO GET WELL?
A Sermon by The Rev Dr. John A Dalles
Sunday, February 8, 2015 – Two Cents Sunday
“Do You Want to Get Well?” – V. “When Jesus Asks”
Psalm 147:1-11; John 5:1-15
Do you want to get well?
What kind of a question is that?
If you were to ask any doctor or nurse or health care professional that you know that question, they would tell you it is a very good question indeed.
You would assume that people who go to the doctor or to the hospital want to get well. And in many cases that is what they want. But there are other people who would answer NO to the questions Do you want to get well.
Why would they answer NO.?
1, they have become accustomed to their ailments
2. They crave the attention that having this or that wrong with them brings them
3. Their chief topic of conversation is what ails them
4. They benefit from the privileges of their illness - special admittance and parking and other perks.
5. In other words, no they do not want to get well.
Can health care professionals do much with such people?
They are certainly demanding of attrition of a particular kind, but they do not make any strides towards wellness, and well being. Because then who would they be?
Now this person Jesus happened upon had been ill for so long that he was defined as the person who sits by the pool of Siloam. That sick guy.
When Jesus saw him lying there and learned that he had been in this condition for a long time, he asked him, "Do you want to get well ...
You probably have people in your wider sphere of daily comminuting who would be like this fellow. That h0omepess person who holds up the cardboard sign at that busy intersection, or who are regulars in the same places you shop, or you see as you make your way through your neighborhood. You don’t know them but if you saw them somewhere else, you would say, “O that is that person who has been in that condition for a long time.” You might not know their name. But you know something of their situation.
Do you want to change your life circumstances? Do you want to be made whole? Do you want to take on a new role in life? Do you want to be able to work again? Do you want to become responsible for yourself in new ways? Do you want to get well?
You can see why Jesus asks the question.
On that day and at that place the answer was yes.
Not a resounding yes.
Not a wholehearted yes.
Not a – at long last! –yes.
In fact we can pretty well hear the whine in the man’s voice.
Jesus says… “Would you like to get well?”
The man replies:
“I can't, sir. I have no way to get to the waters when they are stirred. Someone always beats me or cuts me off to get there.”
The man saw one solution and one only. The miraculous healing when the waters are stirred. I want the same kind of miracle that others have had. Not many, mind you. But I have seen it – all these years waiting by the edge of the pool. Watching the water for the sign that the waters are stirred. I have seen some let down into the pool and come out better than they were before. But I never get there fast enough.
He may have said all of this and more to Jesus. John may have spared us some of the conversation. Even the part that john does record is not a resounding yes.
But Jesus took it as yes enough.
A partial yes. A tendency toward yes. A slight movement toward yes, more slight than the stirring of the surface of the waters… that was enough for Jesus.
Jesus told him, “Stand up and pick up your mat and walk!”
Jesus does an end run around the man’s preconceived notions about how and when and by what action he would be healed. I like that. I suppose many a physician likes this passage two. The ones who have a patient come to them who has done their research. And who says, I know what I need to be made well, because I read it here or there and what you need to do for me is to provide me this or that.
The self diagnosis and self prescription. Who needs the physician?
Jesus did not lift the man up and carry him to the pool and elbow others out of the way as he did and lower the man into the pool. That is what the man wanted that was his self diagnosis. That was his own prescription for healing.
Sometimes people limit what Jesus can do because they are too specific. Sometimes they limit what Jesus can do because they know it all—already. Jesus if you will just pick me up, run for that pool, knock over the lame lady over there and that other fellow over there and ever so gently put me in the water before anyone else—then I will have a chance at wholeness.
Well. Maybe. But I think I would prefer the doctor’s advice. It reminds me of a true story of one of my fellow ministers in my last church. Who experienced a seizure of some kind and was taken to the hospital and was there, in a non responsive state. We visited him. Prayed with his family. Wondered what if anything could be done. Maybe his family had their ideas. Maybe we did too. But we would all have been wrong. You see, the problem was discovered by one of the nurses who were caring for him, when she asked some questions based on her observations that the man had some teeth missing. She wanted to know where his partial plate was. The family did not know. Maybe at home on the bedside table? They checked. No, that was not it. Where could it be? The question, being unanswered. Led to finding it. Lodged in the man’s windpipe. It had come loose and he had swallowed it and that had caused the seizure and his apparently helpless condition. Once it was removed. He recovered and was made well.
Sometimes we need to leave it to the experts.
Jesus is the expert at healing our ills.
When john says: “The man was healed right away.”
We get it.
We also get that it is not just about physical illness but about anything that ails a person. It may be a person’s mood. Stuck in an outlook on life that is detrimental to the person and pure misery for all who are around them. It may be some kind of behavior that needs to be set aside. The greedy person, the lazy person, the deceitful person, the unappreciative person, the aggressive person, the disruptive person—they have learned behaviors that are difficult to change.
Most every Christian would want Jesus to come along side of them as he came alongside the man at the pool of Siloam and ask them that question. Do you want to be made well? Do you want to be healed? Do you want to be part of the human race?
Or do you prefer to stay stuck in your ailments? To have the attention you crave by staying broken?
The same is true of groups and nations.
We know who they are. They are in the news almost every day. They act to undermine the focus and purpose of most groups and nations whose goals include the harmonious relationship in and among. We are speaking now of those hate groups who hide behind twisted logic. And of those nations that encourage the spread of anarchy and terror around the globe.
A hindered years ago there was a nation known as The Sick Man of Europe. Did it want to get well? Do nations that prefer to tear down rather than build up want to get well? To groups that play on violence and anarchy want to get well?
Most every Christian would want Jesus to come along side of them as he came alongside the man at the pool of Siloam and ask them that question. Do you want to be made well? Do you want to be head? Do you want to rejoin the family of nations? Do you want to stand for the good instead of evil, right in place of wrong?
That is the question Jesus asks of every person and every group and every nation who come across this event in John’s Gospel.
Do you want to get well?
My grandmother used to tell me about a friend of hers named Jane, who became well almost in spite of herself.
Jane had been unable to hear from birth. At one point, long into her adulthood, Jane found herself in need of an operation for an unrelated matter.
But, when the physicians looked at her needs, they found that if they perform another additional operation – one that had not been available until recently – they could address her hearing loss as well.
They did exactly that. And for the first time, she was able to hear sounds – one of which she valued over all others:
The sound of running water.