Choosing to be Well. Body & Soul. Part One.

The story is told in the Gospel of John of a pool near the north side of the temple where “a great number of disabled people” came each day with the hope of being healed of their infirmity. The area around the pool of Bethesda has been archeologically excavated and reveals the Bible’s accurate description with five covered colonnades. The pool of Bethesda was fed by an underground spring. When the spring overflowed, it would bubble up from beneath causing a disturbance in the waters above. In Jesus’ day there was a legend that this rippling of the waters was caused by the fluttering of angels’ wings, so that the first person to enter the stirred waters would be cured.

John’s Gospel tells us that Jesus walked to the pool and saw the great number of people lying there who were blind, lame, and paralyzed. He approaches a man who had been brought to the pool for 38 years. Let that sink in for a minute. Every day, for 38 years, this man was placed in the Porticos of the Bethesda Pool. He was likely paralyzed as it is said, “Jesus saw him lying there.” 38 years with limited hope that he would be healed. Imagine how that would feel emotionally, mentally, and physically.

Jesus approached the man and asked a riveting question. “Do you want to be made well?” On the surface that answer may be an obvious “of course I want to be well.” But it had been 38 years of hopeless existence. An acceptance and submission are found in the known way of life.

We begin to see Jesus’ strategy in asking the question, “Do you want to be made well?” when the man responds with an excuse rather than an answer. The man explains that he has no one to help him get into the pool quickly when the waters were aroused. Do you hear the resignation in his voice? 

Each day, we make choices that contribute to our well-being or deter our health. We make food choices that heal or harm our bodies. We decide about our level of physical activity. We allow stress to have a prevalent hold in our lives. Most of us spend too much time in front of an electronic screen and too little time in nature. We nurture grudges rather than gratitude. We feed anger the seeds of hate and mistrust. We accept disruptive relationships rather than confronting issues that destroy our peace. Many of us doubt our value and worth and live a resigned life of sabotaging self-criticism. Rather than choosing to make a life-honoring change, we resign ourselves to destructive habits and festering wounds of resentment.  

Jesus asks, “Do you want to be well?”

Join me, beginning March 1, for a nine-week small group gathering, “Choosing to be Well. Body and Soul.” Let’s explore what the Bible says about self-care including nutrition, physical activity, and life-building habits. Is it time to move beyond, “I know I need to change” and explore what wellness looks like in your life?

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For more insight into Jesus and the Paralyzed Man, read John 5: 1-15. 

Phyllis Fox is a Master Certified Health Coach and co-owner of Choice Wellness and Counseling. She and her husband, Doug, live in Johnson City, Tennessee. Together, they have a daughter and son-in-law that have blessed them with two adorable grandsons. Phyllis is a Bible study leader and elder at Grandview Christian Church in Johnson City.