“Do you want to be healed?”
This question was addressed by The Lord Jesus Christ to a severely sick man. We know hardly anything about him; we don’t know his name or how old he was. We do know that he had been disabled for thirty-eight years, but don’t know if he had been disabled since birth or if he had become in later life. We are not even sure what his condition was, but he probably was paralysed.
One man among many – Wherever Christ went there would always be crowds following him, and many of those would be sick and needing healing, so why is this man singled out from the crowd? Was he more deserving, better than the others? Christians, who have experienced the love of God in salvation, never lose the sense of amazement – Why me? The apostle Paul wrote “This saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost. But I received mercy” (2 Timothy 1:15-16). He was overawed by the fact that Christ had had compassion on him and singled him out.
A strange question? – Christ’s question may seem strange (even cruel) to someone who was aware he was sick and who was already seeking healing unsuccessfully, but it was a necessary question. He had to not only recognise he had a need, but also admit it to a complete stranger. He had to be brought to accept that he had a far more serious condition; he needed spiritual healing for a sin-sick soul. It would not be wrong for us to see in this man’s disability a much worse condition, that of being a sinner in need of forgiveness. So much is seen in the Saviour’s words to him later, “See you are well! Sin no more that nothing worse will happen to you”, which show the Saviour’s concern for him to be saved from the consequences of his sin.
A serious disability – His physical problem prevented him from moving without assistance, of earning a living and making a useful contribution to society; to all intents and circumstances, he was an outcast. Our spiritual problem has had a devastating effect on us all, affecting every area of our lives; we have been affected by sin from birth, and since then our sins have separated us from God.
A sinless physician – We need to be reconciled to God through our Lord Jesus Christ who, rather than leaving us in our natural sinful state, came into this world to save us. Unlike us, he is the only One who was born without sin, lived a perfect life of obedience to his Father, and went to the cross as a sacrifice for sin, being punished by his Father in our place. He was the only One who could take responsibility for our sins and consequently was in the position of taking upon himself their guilt and punishment.
Answering the question – There may be someone reading this who is not a Christian. You have heard the gospel, may well understand it and even accept that the only answer to your problem is to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, but you hold back. It is possible to be an almost Christian, to get so far in understanding, but the commitment isn’t there. Admit that all is not right in your life, that you need help and salvation from the only One who can help. The question demands an answer and the time is now!
John Martin, Lampeter Evangelical Church