Offering help is complicated. Jesus once encountered a paralytic by the pool at Bethesda (John 5:1-15). He had been in this condition for 38 years but no one would take him into the healing waters. Jesus asked him, “Do you want to get well?”
Is this an insensitive question to ask this poor man? It may have addressed some other questions people had but would not voice.
“Why doesn’t he crawl?”
“Why didn’t his friends help him?”
“Where is his family?”
Jesus’ question cut to the very center of the man’s heart and exposed the motives that lay deep within. He had relied upon others to make his way in life. He would no longer have an excuse for the condition of his life. Healing would mean he would need to work and assume responsibilities.
Questions bring clarity and help us to understand the real need. Jesus asked many questions.
“Who do you say that I am?”
“Why do you call me good?”
"Whose portrait is this? And whose inscription?"
“Do you want to get well?”
Jesus often involved the person in the process of healing. He told a blind man to wash in the pool of Siloam (JN 9:7) and ten lepers to go the priest (LK 17:11-19). It seems to me that an individual seeking help needs to work harder than those who are offering help. Otherwise, wouldn’t our “help” actually be enabling. Jesus the told this man, “Get up! Pick up your mat and walk.”
Another wrinkle is added when Jesus tells the man, “See, you are well. Stop sinning or something worse may happen to you.”
Jesus is reminding us that crisis situations tend to have a spiritual dimension. To another paralytic Jesus said, “Your sins are forgiven,” before healing him (MT 9:6).
A person seeking help has opened up a door for ministry. The church, both gathered and scattered, is a source of blessing to everyone who is in need. We must be good stewards not just of the resources provided to us by God through His people but, also, of the opportunity to have a life-changing impact on a person’s life through the power of the Holy Spirit.
Offering help is complicated but asking questions, empowering the person to help themselves, and being mindful of the person’s spiritual condition can lead to a blessed outcome.