There might be three types of people in this world: those who go throughout their lives never knowing their true potential, those who know their potential and spend their lives pursuing it with all the boldness and ownership of their destiny, and then those who hear their potential but cannot quite claim it.
This third type of person could be this way for a number of reasons:
…She might not believe in her potential because of what her past has told her.
…He might not want to claim his potential out of fear of the responsibility that will come with it once it has been reached.
…She might find herself unworthy of her potential upon facing her own comparison to others.
…He might not want to do the work for what it will take to reach his potential.
2 Now there is in Jerusalem by the Sheep Gate a pool, in Aramaic called Bethesda, which has five roofed colonnades. 3 In these lay a multitude of invalids—blind, lame, and paralyzed. 5 One man was there who had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. 6 When Jesus saw him lying there and knew that he had already been there a long time, he said to him, “Do you want to be healed?”
HAIL YES HE WANTED TO BE HEALED, JESUS.
He was hanging by the pool because it was known for its healing powers, not because he was working on his tan.
Why would you even ask that??
Jesus knew this man’s potential. Jesus knew this man could easily walk if the Son of GOD healed him, no problem. All the possibilities of who this man had been and could be were within reach of Jesus’ omniscient nature, including the answer to this question.
So why ask that, Jesus?? Why ask if you want to be better? Why ask if you want to be more than what you are right now? Why ask if you want what you’re capable of, what you could do if only?
7 The sick man answered him, “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.”
Wait. This man had been lame for 38 years, and the best excuse he had for not getting healed sooner had to do with people tripping on him? This pool had to be a popular place to go, what with five colonnades and being known for its healing powers. You mean to tell me every single person who went by him at the pool ignored the poor man completely??
Maybe I’m being too critical but, with what we are given, it would seem this man is making excuses for why he hasn’t been healed yet.
And, in his excuses, he indicates a different answer to Jesus’ question to him. Why not come right out and say, “Yes, I want to be healed!”? Why was his first response excuses?
“It’s like you have this schizophrenic moment where you answer the voice beating you up inside your head,” he said, with a strange mixture of compassion and curiosity in his eyes. “You can’t quiet the voice so you go ahead and speak out what it’s telling you–that you made a mistake or you missed something important.”
I sat on the other side of his desk and nodded in agreement, my chin down and arms crossed across my chest as if to protect my heart from the anticipated damage his lecture feedback might cause me.
He continued to read over his notes of what he saw in my recent lecture presentation, pointing out my strengths and opportunities to improve, glazing over the fact that he had in fact called attention to the sickness that is the voice inside my head.
He spoke about the voice as though it were just the price to be paid of someone who is extra critical of himself while presenting in front of any audience, as though the voice simply said things like, “You weren’t supposed to say that yet,” or “You are off from your notes and need to get back now.”
The truth is the voice has been there ever since I listened to the lies fed to me by the enemy of my soul. The truth is the voice loathes my own voice and wants to weaken me where the Lord has gifted me. The truth is the voice does not settle for cheap shots at my actions and behaviors; no, it goes for the kill by attacking and relabeling who I am.
His feedback was fair, honest, and tactful. No fallen tears there. But, it was the potential he called out in me that had me unsure how to feel.
Upon painting the grand picture of what he thought I would one day be capable of doing, he stopped what he was saying to look at me in the eyes and in doing so cocked his head to the side.
He asked me: “…But do you even want this? Do you even want to do something like this?”
I couldn’t answer him.
I never thought I would be capable of doing what he was suggesting was within my reach. I have compared myself to people in my field for far too long to believe I could be good at something I thought I was truly the worst at doing. I also wasn’t sure I could ever slay the fire-breathing voice he described as my main obstacle to overcome.
It was like he was asking me, “Do you even want to be healed?”
And I didn’t know.
8 Jesus said to him, “Get up, take up your bed, and walk.” 9 And at once the man was healed, and he took up his bed and walked.
It’s interesting that Jesus healed him with a call to action and not a “one and done” touch. In that case, Jesus could have touched him and he still would have had the option to stay seated and not ever walk.
This man still had to choose to get up, choose to stand on the two feet he hadn’t used in 38 years, the two feet I’m sure he thought others would doubt, the two feet that maybe were not so deserving in his mind to be healed in the first place.
I think there are times when Jesus’ healing is contingent on us just getting up and walking. Getting up and moving forward. Getting up and forgiving. Getting up and letting go.
I do not always love this about Jesus. I would prefer to just be “one and done” touched and healed. I would prefer for Jesus to wave a spiritual wand over me and I’ll never have to hear the voice inside my head tell me lies again.
Instead, Jesus offers me words and truth to exchange with the lies.
Instead, Jesus offers me new labels and grace for my past.
Instead, Jesus offers me the choice to get up and be healed in my change of thinking and behavior.
Instead, Jesus offers me the freedom to answer his question that accompanies the healing: “…But do you even want this?”