Have you ever wondered why Jesus’ teaching was so memorable? Jesus was a master communicator who employed three important methods that all communicators ought to remember: he asked provocative questions, he told memorable stories and he used illuminating metaphors. Who can forget Jesus’ story of the Prodigal Son, or his metaphor about being born again, or his life changing question to his disciples, “Who do you say that I am?”
Did you know that Jesus asked many more questions than He is answered… and that He rarely answered a question? In his book, Jesus is the Question, pastor and scholar, Martin Copenhaver, teaches us that in the four gospel accounts, Jesus asks 307 questions in his three-year ministry. He was asked 183 questions. But He only answers between three and eight (depending on which scholars you consult). Jesus prefers to ask questions than to provide answers. Why do you think that Jesus asked so many questions and provided so few answers? (This is a good question for a small group discussion.)
One of Jesus’ most significant questions is recorded in our passage for today in John, chapter 5. An invalid has been lying by the pool of Bethesda, in Jerusalem, for 38 years. Jesus asks the invalid a provocative question, “Do you want to get well?” It seems like an insensitive question for Jesus to ask. Of course the man wants to get well! But, notice that instead of answering the question, the lame man makes excuses for why he hasn’t been healed. He blames others for stepping down in front of him to experience the healing waters of the pool. Jesus interrupts his “pity party” with a command to, “Stand up, take your mat, and walk.” The crowd was astounded when the lame man stood up, picked up his mat, and began to walk!
[tweetable]Maybe Jesus’ question is not as insensitive as we thought. It is a curious fact of life that many of us prefer to be “lame” in an area of our life than to do the arduous, scary work of getting well. Author C.S. Lewis captures this sentiment when he writes, “A familiar captivity is frequently more desirable than an unfamiliar freedom.” We may know that a certain behavior is hurting us…even killing us. But, it is one thing to know it… and quite another matter to do something about it!
It takes courage to get up and take a step of faith. Sometimes, it is challenging to “let go” of a chapter of our life (our mat) and take one risky step into the unknown.