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As Jesus walked through Jerusalem, He came to a
pool known as Bethesda. Around this pool, hun- dreds of sick people gathered, hoping for healing from the waters. Shelters had been set up around the pool to protect the sick from the day's steam- ing heat. And in these shelters many lay or sat, waiting for the movement of the water.
Jesus longed to heal everyone at Bethesda, but one man stood out more than the rest. He had been paralyzed for 38 years and to a great degree, his sickness was due to his own lifestyle. And because the priests looked upon any kind of sickness as a judgment of God, he felt condemned by both God and man. "Alone and friendless, feeling that he was shut out from God's mercy, the [man] had passed long years of misery" (The Ministry of Healing, pg. 82).
But on this Sabbath day, Jesus came up to him and said, "Do you want to be healed?" It seems like a strange question to ask. But before we can experience health and healing, we need to answer that question. For health isn't merely the removal of pain and sickness. It's a new way of living, filled with peace and strength.
Jesus holds out His hand to us to receive that kind of healing. He knows how hard we've tried, time and time again, to control our weight, throw away our cigarettes, or to exercise every day. He has seen our frustration and defeat each time we've failed. And so He bends over us, as He bent over that helpless man at Bethesda, saying, "Do you want to be healed?"
When Jesus said, "Rise, take up your bed and walk," this man could have waited for strength to fill His body before he got up. But it was as he obeyed Christ's words--as he made the effort to get up and move--that he received healing. "Acting on the word of Christ, he was made whole" (ibid, pg. 84).
The same healing will come to you and me. "Put your will on the side of Christ. [Choose] to serve Him, and in acting upon His Word you will receive strength...When temptations assail you, when care and perplexity surround you, when, depressed and discouraged, you are ready to yield to despair, look to Jesus, and the darkness that encompasses you will be dispelled by the bright shining of His presence" (ibid, pg. 85).