Broken and Healed
Broken for Good
Nov 24, 2019 | Matthew Cork
Jesus can heal broken people. But the question is, do we want to be healed?
In this series “Broken for Good,” we have seen a theme: God can only use broken people. Indeed, the only “disqualification” to being used by God is not admitting our brokenness. Our God is in the business of putting people back together–but only if we admit that we are broken in the first place, and only if we want God to put us back together, and don’t think we can do it on our own.
So far in our series, we’ve dealt with those who are “spiritually” broken. But Jesus’ power knows no limits, and Jesus also had the ability to deal with those who were physically broken, as well.
Such is the man we meet in John 5. As John 5 opens, we find out that it is the Sabbath day–a day in the Jewish calendar when Jews were required to do no work. Jesus finds himself on this day in Jerusalem, near a pool known as “Bethesda.” (Interesting note: for a long time scholars couldn’t locate this pool, and accused John of making the story up and not being accurate to first-century Jerusalem. It has since, however, been discovered, confirming the accuracy of the gospels.) Apparently Bethesda is known for being a pool with special properties; it is thought that an angel would stir the waters every once in a while and the first person who got into the pool would be healed (John 5:4 – see NIV footnote).
And so Jesus encounters a man who has been brought by the pool. This man has been a paralytic for 38 years. This means, quite simply, that life had been miserable for him for this length of time. Writes Gary Burgeon the plight of paralytics in the first-century: “People moved him from place to place unless he crawled; most of his income came from begging or from the charity of friends and family; and if he did not have bladder or bowel control [as paraplegics frequently don’t], his hygiene problem would have been enormous. People stayed away from him. His hands (used for mobility) were rough and torn from the streets. I have seen these people in rural Egypt, where they live a step below the poorest of the poor. Their life is agony.” Thus this is a man whose life is all but hopeless.
And so Jesus encounters this man. And he asks him an interesting question: “Do you want to get well?” There is a debate as to why Jesus asks this question, but it is hard and tempting not to see something deeper in this question: have you gotten so used to this life that you have lost sight of the fact that it can get better? Do you want life to get better?
The man replies that, in fact, he does, and it’s then that Jesus healed him. And the healing that Jesus gave him was immediate and miraculous: he picked up his mat and walked (John 5:9)! A man that had been paralyzed for 38 years is all of the sudden set free from his condition!
This story speaks to us, I believe, on two levels. On a spiritual level, it reminds us of the ability that Jesus has to put us back together–provided that we want to be put back together (“Do you want to get well?”). Recall these cutting words in John 3:19: “People loved darkness instead of light.” One of the reasons why people don’t come to faith in God is because they don’t want someone else running their life, telling them what they can and cannot do. They love their brokenness, and the reality is that they don’t want to get better–they don’t want to get put back together. That will not fly in the kingdom of God. The first step to being used by God is not just admitting our brokenness, but it’s also confessing that we want to leave that behind so that God can use us.
But there is another level at which this story speaks, as well. Jesus is not just limited to spiritual restoration; there is a physical restoration that Jesus can provide as well. Simply put, when we believe in Jesus, miracles happen. They don’t happen all of the time, but they do happen some of the time. And we want to leave open the possibility that they can happen today.
And so as we close this service, we’re going to give the opportunity for people to pray over for healing. Jesus can heal broken people–both physically and spiritually–and we want to give an opportunity for Jesus to do that right now.