DO YOU WANT TO BE MADE WELL?
Nancy Detweiler, M.Ed., M.Div.
Scripture: John 5:1-5, 14
“After this there was a festival of the Jews, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. Now in Jerusalem by the Sheep Gate there is a pool, called in Hebrew Bethesda, which has five porticoes. In these lay many invalids—blind, lame, and paralyzed. One man was there who had been ill for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him lying there and knew that he had been there a long time, he said to him, ‘Do you want to be made well?’ The sick man answered him, ‘Sir, I have no one to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up; and while I am making my way, someone else steps down ahead of me.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Stand up, take your mat and walk.’ At once the man was made well, and he took up his mat and began to walk.
Later Jesus found him in the temple and said to him, ‘See, you have been made well! Do not sin any more, so that nothing worse happens to you.’”
SETTING: The setting for this story is Bethesda, a pool in Jerusalem with five porticoes, or porches. The sick lie around this pool waiting for the angel of the Lord to appear and stir up the water. They believe that the first person to step into the water, after the angel has stirred it, will be healed.
In Hebrew, Bethesda means “house of healing.” Metaphysically, Bethesda symbolizes that point in our conscious awareness when we begin to feel Spirit flowing through us, cleansing us of our impurities. Metaphysically, the five porches represent our five earth plane senses.
Thus the setting reveals that the sick lying on the porches are still attuned to their five senses, rather than to the ever-active healing power of God residing within them. There are several ways in which their thoughts are imprisoning them in this pattern of dis-ease.
1. They are waiting. Anytime we orient our lives into a mode of “waiting,” that is what we create—waiting.
- They are waiting for something outside themselves to appear and heal them.
- They believe in limitation. Only one person will be healed—the one who is first to step into the stirred waters.
4. At least some of them view themselves as victim. “I have no one to lift me into the water.”
You and I also sit around the pool of Bethesda. How recently have you said, “I am waiting until …” in reference to a major goal in your life? To what person or event outside of yourself are you looking for healing? … for that feeling of completeness? … for the courage to move forward with your life? What factors in your life do you view as limiting your possibilities? In what ways do you consider yourself to be a victim? … a victim of lack? … a victim of habit patterns? … a victim of illness?
JESUS APPEARS AT BETHESDA: The physical location of the story reveals an opportunity for each of us to life our consciousness to higher levels. Jesus symbolizes the healing power of God dwelling within each of us. Jesus chooses to speak to a man who has been ill for 38 years. In numerology, 38 reduces to the number vibration of 11, telling us that this man is now approaching self-mastery. He is ready to be healed by his own indwelling God presence. He is ready to lift his conscious awareness above the physical plane of his five senses. He is ready to be made well.
JESUS ASKS: “DO YOU WANT TO BE MADE WELL?”
This is an extremely important question that each of us must ask of ourselves: “Am I ready to be made well by my indwelling God presence?” Until we are ready to be healed, healing can actually be disruptive to the soul’s progress – or – healing will not occur because dis-ease contains a pay-off for us that is greater than the perceived pay-off of a healing. For example: A person who uses illness to gain the attention and caring of others may find the possibility of a healing to be frightening. If so, this person will resist the healing. Or, if a particular dis-ease is healed, with no shift in the consciousness level of the patient, another dis-ease will soon manifest. All true healing is founded upon a change in consciousness—a turning to the God within. An affirmative answer to Jesus’ question, “Do you want to be made well?” is therefore essential.
THE MAN ANSWERS JESUS according to his sense perception, which renders him a victim: “I have no one to put me into the pool.” Viewing life through his five senses, the man sees himself as helpless in the face of deprivation and limitation. Though he is ready to be healed, he is not yet aware of the healing power lying latent within himself. But Spirit is stirring within him. Jesus’ question meets a receptive soul, open to the possibility of healing.
Are you open and receptive to divine order unfolding in your life? Are you ready to be healed of the error thought, painful emotion, or physical dis-ease that holds you prisoner to life as seen through the five senses?
JESUS DOES NOTHING; INSTEAD, HE SPEAKS THE WORDS OF HEALING BY THROWING THE RESPONSIBILITY FOR ACTION BACK ON THE MAN: “Stand up, take your mat and walk.” The man is healed as he takes action. A tremendous shift in consciousness had to take place in order for a man who has waited by the pool for 38 years to stand up and walk in obedience to Jesus’ command. No longer is he waiting … no longer is he allowing thoughts of deprivation and limitation to imprison him in a diseased body … no longer is he expecting someone or something outside himself to perform the healing … no longer does he consider himself to be victim. He takes action in response to an inner urging of Spirit. He, like each of us, has the inner power to respond to Spirit by taking physical plane action in the very areas that have heretofore held him prisoner. He has believed himself to be unable to walk—he gets up and walks.
In what areas of life do you believe yourself to be powerless to take affirmative action? Your indwelling God presence would have you know that you have the power to “get up and walk.”
In the case of physical healing, Charles Fillmore (co-founder of the Unity Movement) reminds us that physiology describes the blood corpuscles as little batteries, each with a negative and a positive pole. If these batteries are filled with the positive life force, they constantly electrify the body. But if, through the power of our thoughts and words, we affirm the negative or our dis-ease, we rob these batteries of their natural electrifying energy. We slow down their vitality by giving them an element of negation. To hold negative thoughts in the mind is to stamp negation on the body. To demonstrate perfect health, we must plant the knowledge of that perfection in our minds and body. We must be attuned to the constant influx of Spirit establishing equilibrium within our bodies, independently of the traditional healing modalities of our culture. Those persons waiting around the Pool of Bethesda were imprisoned by their faith in a traditional healing modality outside themselves—the stirring of the waters by an angel.
Lest anyone misunderstand, neither the Bible, Fillmore, nor I are recommending ignoring traditional medicine. We are stating that the true source of all healing is within us in the form of our indwelling God presence. It is as we attune consciously to this presence of Spirit that we are truly empowered to stand up, take our mat, and walk as a person healed of all dis-ease.
LATER THAT DAY, JESUS FOUND THE HEALED MAN IN THE TEMPLE. Jesus cautioned him, “See, you have been made well! Do not sin any more, so that nothing worse happens to you.”
Fillmore defines sin as “wrong thinking,” the belief in two powers—good and evil. When Jesus warns the man not to sin any more, he is encouraging him not to allow himself to resume giving attention to the negative, not to once more focus on thoughts of limitation or dis-ease.
Then Jesus makes a curious statement, “so that nothing worse happens to you.” In essence, Jesus is saying to the man, “if being healed after 38 years of negative thinking does not transform your conscious awareness, then something even more traumatic will be required to get your attention. The same problem will repeat itself until we allow the Christ Consciousness to heal us completely—to move us beyond any tendency to revert to negative thinking or to be imprisoned by beliefs based on a perception of life through our five senses.
As we seek healing, we are to concentrate upon the flowing of the Spirit throughout our bodies, our minds, our emotions, and our lives. We are to remember that through the power of God all things are made right and good. We are to recall that God is Love, God is Good, and that God is all that is. There is only one power in the universe. All else is illusion, based on wrong thinking. Belief in this One Power is our true source of healing and transformation into the Christed individual we are all to become. Then, we too will possess the capacity to stand up, take up our mat, and walk as Christed beings!
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