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?"
Here Jesus asks an invalid what seems to be an odd question.
What sick person in their right mind wouldn’t want to get well? Who that is unable to walk would not welcome the use of his legs?
However, on closer examination perhaps the question isn’t strange at all.
After all God doesn’t force Himself on anyone. Maybe this fact is more intriguing for it suggests that the most powerful Being in the Universe isn’t in the business of imposing His Will on anyone – even if it benefits them.
Here Jesus respects the sovereignty of the individual. As God on earth in human form, Jesus will not force his blessings into any life unwilling to receive them.
This explains a lot of what we observe in the human condition. The world is full of individuals who exercise their freedom to neglect the possibilities of the Teacher. His blessings are not for them.
So Jesus asks the cripple man if He wants to be well.
Perhaps Jesus realizes how drastically this man’s life will change if he is healed. Before he was the object of pity and charity, but a healthy man will have to go to work. Habits of long-standing will have to change and change is often painful too.
No, the man must be given the choice.
And so it is with every person. The Teacher teaches and it is up to each person to decide to become a student or not. And like this man who said ‘Yes,” the decision to follow this Teacher changes everything.