1-6Soon another Feast came around and Jesus was back in Jerusalem. Near the Sheep Gate in Jerusalem there was a pool, in Hebrew called Bethesda, with five alcoves. Hundreds of sick people—blind, crippled, paralyzed—were in these alcoves. One man had been an invalid there for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him stretched out by the pool and knew how long he had been there, he said, "Do you want to get well?" 7The sick man said, "Sir, when the water is stirred, I don't have anybody to put me in the pool. By the time I get there, somebody else is already in."
Today's passage is a story of a sick man - likely a paralytic or lame by some disease that has left him unable to walk on his own. The custom of the day was that these sick people would be gathered in various parts of the town, usually in a place where many "well people" would pass by them all day. They would spend their days begging for just a couple of coins - something to allow them to eat that day. This pool called Bethesda gathered hundreds - simply because it was known for its "healing powers". Today is just a day like any other for those gathered there - until Jesus shows up!
That is the first truth from this passage that I'd like us to see - every single day will be just like the last UNTIL Jesus shows up! The hope for our change lies not in a special "pool" or "magic formula", but in the presence of Jesus in our lives.
Something unusual was about to happen that day for this man, and for those gathered around that pool who would be the onlookers for this amazing occurrence. The customary way of obtaining the "miracle" was shifting from man doing something to "get the miracle" to man relying on the one who performs the miracle. The man is quite honest with Jesus - he had no one to help him to get to the pool when it stirred. He was helpless. He had no ability in himself to "get his miracle". This is so true of all of us - try as we might, we do not possess the ability to "get our miracle".
The next truth is simply that we must focus on the one who provides the miracle more than we focus on the method of the miracle. We often limit God's movement in our lives by trying to make him "fit the plan" we have.
Jesus asks one question: "Would you like to be well?" Let's see....this man has been coming to this Pool of Bethesda every day for thirty-eight years...I'm thinking he might have a hint of a desire to be well! The great healer is standing right before him. Yet, look at how he answers Jesus - "I don't have anyone to get me to the well, so I miss out on my healing every time!" He is still focusing on the only way he believes his healing is possible - the well. Jesus often asks the most revealing questions and we often give the most revealing answers!
The last truth is that Jesus asks us if we want to be delivered from our "lameness" all the time - we often make excuses for why we cannot be well. God never wants us to accept lameness in our emotional, spiritual, or physical lives. He provides a way for our healing - often a way that doesn't "fit the picture" of how we imagined our healing to come. Our part is obedience - a willingness to walk healthy wherever we have shown lameness in our being.
To the man Jesus says, "Get up, take your bedroll, start walking." Today, we face challenges - some almost as daunting as this man's journey to the pool. What seems impossible in the moment is really nothing in the presence of Jesus. We might do well to stop focusing so much on the "well" and start focusing on the one who can "make us well"!