Power to Heal

Bible Reading: John 5

John 5:6, “Do you wish to get well?”

It’s been 10 years, but my friend Nancy still has a picture of Ronald on the door of her refrigerator.  She met him in his home in a village in Uganda.  Nancy had gone there as a member of our mission team.  As a hospice nurse, she had much experience in caring for folks in needy situations.  Ronald’s situation was dire, and she went there to help.  He wasn’t very old, maybe about 15 years of age.  Some mysterious illness had caused him some debilitating pain, so his parents took him to a clinic, but the clinic was unable to diagnose his problem.  So they then followed the dubious advice of a pastor who superstitiously sprinkled dirt from the church floor on him. That didn’t work either.  Next, they consulted a witch doctor who promised to illicit a cure for a fee.  Still, there was no healing, so the family put him to bed and there he laid until Nancy’s visit. With tears flowing from his eyes, the father shared this story with Nancy and me and an interpreter.  His son was bedridden, with a huge bed sore now threatening to do him more harm.  Despite all his father’s efforts, and the expenditure of lots of funds, he was without hope.  We talked and prayed and directed our focus on Jesus.  I suggested he abandon looking to witch doctors and superstitions for a cure and look to Jesus instead.  I shared the gospel with him and assured him of Jesus’ ability to intervene in our lives for good.  He returned home.  Members of our team went to work.  Two men built a hand lift over his bed, which allowed Ronald to get out of his bed.  Then Nancy helped to train him to use it.  She then asked the team for funds to buy Ronald a wheelchair, so that he could get out of his room and see and do things.  We never saw Ronald healed, but through the compassion care of fellow believers, he escaped his bed and made some progress towards healing.  Amidst our problems, be they large or small, its good to direct our focus to the One who loves and cares and is able to intervene in our lives in miraculous ways.

“Do you wish to get well?”  What kind of question is that to ask of an invalid?   But that’s exactly what Jesus asked the man lying beside the pool (John 5:6). The man had been an invalid for 38 years.  He was paralyzed and all alone and completely helpless.  He was gathered there with a multitude of others desperate souls—blind, lame, and paralyzed.  Some manuscripts, but not the earliest and most reliable, insert the following after verse 3 by way of explanation, “waiting for the moving of the water for an angel of the Lord went down at certain seasons into the pool, and stirred the water: whoever stepped in first after the stirring of the water was healed of whatever disease he had” (John 5:4). 

It seems likely that some kind of superstition developed regarding the healing powers of that pool.  There were community pools in Jerusalem in that day.  Some were spring fed, which could account for the movement of the waters.  There were a lot of sick people in need of healing.  Desperation can give rise to various superstitions—not too many years ago, bloodletting was a common practice!

So, in the Bethseda pool “lottery” the first one into the water won.  The prize was to the swift or the strongest or those with friends who would help them to get there first.  But this man had no one to help him get into the water.  When the water was stirred up, and while he was going, another stepped down before him (John 5:7).  The man had been an invalid for 38 years.  For nearly four decades he had suffered.  Jesus saw the man and “that he had already been there a long time” (John 5:6).  And Jesus said to him, “Do you want to be healed” (John 5:6)?

Not every sickness or malady directly results from sin, but all human maladies are rooted in original sin.  Adam and Eve sinned against God and unleashed a contagion of ills that have infected us all.  No descendant of Adam is untouched in life by the grievous consequences of the curse.  And in response, man is prone to look to all kinds of supposed solutions for deliverance. 

“Do you wish to get well?”  There is a sense in which God asks that question of us all.  In response to our sin problem, we look to a variety of solutions and rationalize or excuse our sin-sourced infirmities with a wide array of explanations.  A multitude of the spiritually paralyzed gather at the “pool” of superstitious and humanistic solutions to man’s besetting ills.  But if we do wish to get well—with respect to being cured from sin—there is but one alternative.

Jesus did for the invalid what no one else would have been able to do.  He healed him —compassionately, instantly, and perfectly.  He didn’t need an angel’s help.  He required no “stirred up” waters.  He told the man to “get up, take up, and walk,” and that’s what the man immediately did (John 5:8-9).  Jesus is able to do the same with the sin-paralyzed (Ephesians 2:1).  He is willing and able to forgive, cleanse, and re-birth them so that they might walk “in newness of life” (Romans 6:4).  It matters not if they’ve been a spiritual invalid for many years or few.  The presence of no external means of support is no hindrance to His ability to heal.  He alone is able to heal us “from all our soul’s diseases.” 


I am trusting you, Lord Jesus,
trusting only you;
trusting you for full salvation,
free and true.

I am trusting you for pardon;
at your feet I bow,
for your grace and tender mercy
trusting now.

I am trusting you for cleansing
in the crimson flood;
trusting you who made me holy
by your blood.

I am trusting you to guide me;
you alone shall lead,
ev’ry day and hour supplying
all my need.

I am trusting you for power;
you can never fail.
Words which you yourself shall give me
must prevail.

I am trusting you, Lord Jesus;
never let me fall.
I am trusting you forever
and for all.

Author: looking2jesus13

Having served as pastor at Lewis and Clark Bible Church, in Astoria, Oregon, for almost three decades, my wife’s cancer diagnosis led to my retirement and subsequent move to Heppner to be near our two grandchildren. I divide my time between caring for Laura and working as a part time hospice chaplain and spending time with family and spoiling my chocolate lab.

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