"One who was there had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him lying there and learned that he had been in this condition for a long time, he asked him, "Do you want to get well?""
It's not news to anybody that Jesus is the master at asking questions. As I read through the Gospels I can't help but marvel at his adept ability to ask probing questions that would cut right to the soul of the hearer. He moves past the easy surface level Q&A sessions and into the self-revealing discovery learning that forces the person to delve into the depths of their heart and motivations.
The question that Jesus asks in this story in John 5 has been doing just that in my life. It echoes in my ears. On the outside it's easy to reply in the case of the invalid, "Of course he wants to get well! He's been disabled for most of his life. Why wouldn't he want to get well?"But Jesus being, ya know, divine, he knows the secrets of the heart. His state of invalidity had become so entrenched in who he was that inwardly he couldn't imagine his life without this condition. His condition became his identity.
As we cry out to God for help to change us, are we really desiring exactly that? Or are we just praying for change because we know that's what a good Christian should do? Or maybe we think we can fool God into thinking that we are really ready to give up whatever is holding us back from a more intimate relationship with Him.
Whatever the real motive, we should let the question from Jesus carve its way into our hearts. And, of course, I only say this because I need to do the same. If I want God to heal me, purge me of my sin, release the power of the Spirit in my life, I need to make sure that's what I really desire in my innermost being.
We cannot fool God. As Tozer says, He waits to be wanted.