Bible Study

Do You Want to Be Well?

“Our healing will come from Jesus’ hands, but we must be willing to surrender our expectations of what that healing will look like.” by Major Valerie Carr

When any of us go to the doctor’s office, whether it be for a regular checkup or a medical concern, we usually hear a series of questions. What brings you in today? When did this start? How are you treating it at home? Are there any other concerns you’d like to discuss? Questions at the doctor’s office are a routine part of managing our physical wellbeing. The honest answers to the doctor’s questions are the starting place of the treatment plan, determining pain management, and improving our overall well-being. 

In this month’s look at questions Jesus asked, we find Him engaged with a man who is physically unwell. In John 5, Jesus asks a pointed question: “Do you want to get well?” (v 6 NIV). As we take a deeper look at this scene in Scripture, we might find Jesus challenging our own situations with that question. The passage points us toward considering the areas in our lives where we are seeking healing from the Lord. 

In John’s story we find Jesus is in Jerusalem for a religious festival. He has made His way towards the infamous Sheep Gate and Pool of Bethesda where many in need of physical healing gather due to a belief about an angel’s wings disturbing the pool of water there and offering healing to the first who enter (John 5:2-4). Jesus saw a man in the crowd who had been sick for 38 years (John 5:5-6). The man’s response to Jesus’ question was that there was no one to help him into the water when the pool stirred and someone always made it into the water before him (v 7). Jesus’ response is for the man to “Stand up, pick up your mat and walk!” (v 8).  John writes that “Instantly, the man was healed! He rolled up his sleeping mat and began walking!” (v 9). 

The story centers around two primary characters: Jesus and a man who has been battling his physical condition for a very long time. It is unclear if the man has been in this condition since birth or if something happened that left him without the ability to walk. We can decipher that the man feels very alone in his suffering. In verse 7, he tells Jesus “I have no one to help me” (NIV). It can be read that the tone of his response to Jesus conveys his loss of hope of ever receiving the healing he desires, and in his loneliness, he is unable to see any path towards what he wants (v 7).  

The object of Jesus’ question presents us with a situation of long-term suffering, a lack of hope, and dwindling belief in the possibility of healing. There is an air of resignation to the man’s responses. He believes there is just one way he could be healed, and that way has repeatedly escaped him. Jesus’ question of  “Do you want to be well?” must sound callous in his ears at first. Did he hear it as taunting his situation? Was his first thought to defend why he hasn’t been able to heal himself yet? 

Yet, at some level, he has become comfortable in his suffering. He is resigned to the belief that healing will never come because he lacks the strength or power to make it happen.  He stands before the Great Physician, who has already healed the sick and dying (John 4:43-54) and believes that suffering is his only option. He doesn’t seem to see Jesus as an option. He clearly doesn’t recognize Jesus as he addresses him as “Sir” rather than Lord or Rabbi (v 7). And when questioned later about his healing by religious leaders, John tells us “the man had no idea who it was” that healed him (v 7, 13 NIV). He has focused too long on what he doesn’t have that he misses the Healer who could offer hope standing right in front of him.

If we’re honest, we too can often resign ourselves to a fate of suffering because we only focus on our inability to produce our desired results in life. We rely on our own power and strength and are disappointed over and over again. We become comfortable in our situation. The complaints and excuses find voice faster than hope or encouragement. We look around to point out how utterly alone we are before we seek a Savior who has promised to always be with us (Isaiah 41:10).  

Some may be struggling with an addiction but have given up on finding a way out. Perhaps you are facing a terrible diagnosis and the hope of joy in your life seems fleeting. Whatever our circumstances, we sometimes become more comfortable in our loneliness and isolation because hope seems too much like a burden. We look all around  at our limited physical circumstances and our own internal weaknesses and we miss Jesus standing in our midst, asking if we even want to be well.  

In verse 6, Jesus asks the man, “Would you like to get well?” Some translations phrase that question as “Do you want to get well?” (NIV). It’s interesting to note that the man did not approach Jesus for healing. John tells us that “Jesus saw him and knew he had been ill for a long time” (v 6). Jesus recognizes the man’s situation and comes with an offer of hope and help.  

The question He asks carries an underlying meaning for the man’s situation. Translations vary on the phrasing of the question: “Would you like to get well?” or “Do you want to get well?” (NIV) or “Do you wish to get well?” (NASB). The Greek word translated “like/want/wish” gives us insight into Jesus’ real question. In other places in the New Testament, the same word is translated as “willing.”  The word’s context and usage suggest the idea of a firm decision to be made. It is an active choice to be healed not a passive receiving of healing. Jesus’ question pushes the hearer to intentionally decide if healing is what they want and if they are going to accept it. 

In our own lives, Jesus offers us the same opportunity to find healing for our circumstances in Him. He is directly asking: In this life circumstance, in these hurt feelings, or in this deep struggle, do you actively choose to let me work through your situation and bring about healing that may not look like what you were expecting? If we actively choose to surrender our healing to Jesus’ way, we give up control of what happens.  

In the book “Jesus Is the Question,” Martin B. Copenhaver suggests that Jesus is “inviting the man into a healing partnership.” The man had been expecting healing to come from bubbling water, but it came through the strength given him to stand on his own feet. Our healing will come from Jesus’ hands, but we must be willing to surrender our expectations of what that healing will look like. Whatever situation you are facing today, Jesus is inviting you into a healing partnership with Him. A partnership that will find strength where there was none. It will find hope where once was only despair. And it will lead to a relationship with the Savior that provides peace in struggle. The question we are left with is: Do you want to be well? 

Questions to ponder

  • What struggle are you currently facing that needs the healing help of Jesus?
  • What version of healing are you being challenged to let go of to receive from Jesus in your circumstances?


You can receive the free gift of salvation through Jesus Christ by praying something like the following:

Dear God, know I am a sinner. I need your forgiveness and grace. I believe that Christ paid the penalty for my sin, and He died in my place, and He rose from the dead. I invite Jesus Christ to come into my life as Savior. Thank You for saving me from my sin and making me Your child. Help me to grow and learn how to serve You. Amen.

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