In such a helpless condition: and knew that he had been now a long time, in that case, or "in his disease", as the Ethiopic version supplies; even seven years before Christ was born; which is a proof of his omniscience: the words may be literally rendered, as they are in the Vulgate Latin and Syriac versions, "that he had had much time"; or as the Arabic version, "that he had had many years"; that is had lived many years, and was now an old man; he had his disorder eight and thirty years, and which seems from John to have arisen from some sin of his, from a vicious course of living, perhaps intemperance; so that he might be a middle aged man, when this distemper first seized him, and therefore must be now stricken in years: he saith unto him, wilt thou be made whole?
He wished him to reflect on his miserable state, that he might be the better prepared to receive a cure, and to value it when it came. Addresses of this kind are always proper from the preachers of the Gospel, that the hearts, as well of hardened as of desponding sinners, may be stirred up to desire and expect salvation.
Do you wish to be healed? Do you know that you are under the power of a most inveterate and dangerous disease?
If so, there is a remedy - have immediate recourse to the physician. Questions of this kind are frequently asked in the secret of our souls, by the inspirations of God's Spirit. Happy those who pay attention to them, and give right answers.