The Healing Pool

Now there is in Jerusalem near the Sheep Gate a pool, which in Aramaic is called Bethesda and which is surrounded by five covered colonnades.  Here a great number of disabled people used to lie—the blind, the lame, the paralyzed.  One who had was there had been an invalid for thirty-eight years.  When Jesus saw him lying there and learned that he had been in this condition for a long time, He asked Him,  “Do you want to get well?”  John 5:2, 3, 5,6.

What made Jesus choose one man out of so many sick or affected people?  There were plenty of blind, lame, paralyzed, the disabled of all sorts lay or sat around the pool waiting for the water to be stirred.  Because only the lesser manuscripts added the miracle of healing when the water stirred, we have no real idea if the legend held any truth or it was a mystic addition later which drew on written myth.  One thing we do know is that the sick people believed it–or, at least, they wanted to.

One man among many received healing at that moment.  May be later some of the others found their way to Jesus but what would you have thought had you been there waiting for a miracle and one happened right under your nose?  Bitter?  Angry?  My first question would have been, “Why him?  Why did God pass me by and what did I do to be overlooked?”

Yup! That’s human nature for ya’.

Jesus also asked the most seemingly asinine question anybody has ever asked in the history of wise men making quotes from mountaintops and spouting wise words for readers of posterity, “Do you want to get well?”

On second thought, may be it isn’t so foolish after all.  Some people actually like to be sick because it gives them an excuse to fail.  Some like to fail and even program their situations to fail so they don’t have take responsibility for themselves or the outcome.  So Jesus might have realized the man put himself there and wanted to make sure he would be willing to get over his problem.

How do we know this dude put himself there?  By Jesus’ warning at the end of the day in verse 14.  The man must have been either a drinker or ate incredibly rich foods because the only way I can think of someone causing paralysis for 38 years and it being a result of sin is if they have some really bad eating habits or drank alcohol too much.

This guy completely missed Jesus’ point, however, because he thought Christ referred the stirring of the waters instead of an immediate cure.  I wouldn’t doubt his answer displayed his bitterness and irritation with Jesus asking the obvious.  Jesus had learned what He needed to know about the man, so wasted no time asking if the man believed He was the Messiah.  He just told him to pick up his mat and walk.  I like the fact that He commanded the dude to “Get up!”  It almost seems like He was being a bit playfully humerous withthe guy.  As if Jesus said with mischievious grin, “Ah, get up! Take your mat and walk. Go on, get outta’ here before I bop ya’ one on the back side of your head!”

I know Jesus didn’t mean it that way exactly but I do think it kind of tickled His funnyboneto disappear into the crowd after doing something so cool.  Notice the man, without any previous experience with Christ, or exposure for that matter in the record, just obeyed.  Dietrich Bonhofferclaimed this was because Jesus’ divinity showed through His humanity at times and nobody could resist or argue with Him.  The command was not a firm request but a God telling someone to get up and walk.  It’s something we just weren’t born to handle or resist effectively.

In verse 6 we learn that Christ saw him and asked about him. “When Jesus saw him lying there and learned that he had been in this condition for a long time…”  Ya’ know what?  I get the feeling Jesus hadn’t intended on doing any miracles that day because it was Sabbath and He didn’t want to rile the Jews, but the man just awoke His sympathy.  He might have had a little bit of hesitation, demonstrated by the fact that He actually asked the man if he wanted to get well.

Get the Jews confronting the man who had been healed on the Sabbath.  So zealous for the law yet without a clue.  In fact, later we learn they began persecuting Jesus because of this incident.  He healed a man on the Sabbath and they had the audacity to yell foul.  Sometimes I look around me and see the same mentality in those who follow Jesus today.  We build up these “great” ideas for God to adhere to and when He simply ignores us or glances at us knowingly then sidesteps around us, we get our noses bent out of shape and pouting declare we’re not sure we want to follow Him anymore–or tell Him He’s not a nice God because He never gives us anything we want.  (Remember Willy Wonka–the original with Gene Wilder–where the spoiled little girl bawls her dad out.)

Okay, back to the point.  God is boss.  If He’s not, we’re in trouble.

When I say this, I know I sound arrogant to some who read statements like this as too defined to be wise, but I’m not.  I can’t be because I’m too fallible to have anything to be arrogant about.  I don’t have a great theological education, I’m not famous or smarter than anybody.  I don’t have money, position or anything to recommend me to you, or God, for that matter.

But if I’m gonna’ believe in God, I’m not going to waste my energy being wishywashy.  I might retain some perspective on the probability of it all but I simply put all my eggs in the basket and roll the dice for Jesus.  To me it’s a waste of time to spend my whole life doubting what I believein my heart to be true, miserable with the doubt but too afraid to commit to it or do anything about it.  I came to this point nearly 30 years ago, then again ten years later.  I have days where I want to throw in the towel because life just seems a bust and it hurts too much to follow anymore.

Then I hear the Spirit of God ask,  “Where will you go?”  There isn’t anywhere to go.  I’ve never found a hope more complete or better so why go there?  There’s a Proverb which says,“If you faulter in times of trouble, how small is your strength!”  Troubled times reveal our inner determination to hold the line, keep the faith and not surrender to the darkness.

I like the dialogue of the Jews confronting the man:  The day on which this took place was a Sabbath, and so the Jews said to the man who had been healed, “It is the Sabbath; the law forbids you to carry your mat.”  

Okay, that wasn’t entirely true. The law didn’t forbid it, the Jewish additions and definitions did.  Remember any Sabbath was held sacrosanct by the Jews not just the one from the 4th commandment so Jesus’ miracle wasn’t necessarily on the 7th day.  He did go to Jerusalem for a feast of the Jews.

But he replied, “The man who made me well said to me, ‘Pick up your mat and walk.’”

So they asked him, “Who is this fellow who told you to pick it up and walk?”

The man who was healed had no idea who it was, for Jesus had slipped away into the crowd that was there. 

They were so zealous for the law that the leaders missed a greater miracle.  A man was healed!  Forget about all the other stuff, this is more important.  After Jesus found him again and left him with his instructions to clean up his life, the man beelined for the Jews to tell them it was Jesus.  I believe in his mind they would be glad to hear it.  But they weren’t.  Yet I can’t make him guilty of treason here.  I think he couldn’t fathom that anybody would hold his healing against Jesus.

Wouldn’t you have thought that if Jesus could heal on any day, He might be either God’s servant or God Himself?  Wouldn’t it have occured to any of them the miracle took precedence?  It just amazes me there was any negative reaction at all.  “Hello! A miracle took place here, dudes, and you’re going to miss the boat if you don’t get your heads out of your religious backsides!”  Jesus commanded the elements, made the world in six days or so and generally outranked every being in the universe.  If He chose to heal on a Sabbath, it must be okay, wouldn’t you say?  The Ruler makes the rules.

But He didn’t play by the rules of the game they had set up so they hated Him and wanted Him dead.

The question for me always comes to a painful point here:  What would I have done in that time and place?  

What do I do now that cuts the work of God in other people’s lives off at the knees?  Do I know Jesus well enough to recognize His handiwork when it happens?  Or am I just like the Jewish religious elite, blind and deaf to anything He could show me or say?

One thing I’ve noticed, each and every person healed had no question about Jesus.  This tells me that those who consider themselves well fed and supplied will probably look at Jesus as an accessory rather than their Savior–an option in life rather than the only option to life.

The reason I’m so dedicated is not from my ego being stroked or supported but because I know the healing power of God’s love in my life.  I could never write these things, argue any point or hold a position at all were it not for Jesus healing my insides and converting me from emotionally beaten and lacking confidence to where I am today.  Any good another sees in me comes from being exposed to Jesus’ teachings, trusting them, obeying them, wrestling with them for understanding–sometimes it takes a long time for things to sink in, ‘cuz I’m not a fast learner.  I’ve sinned knowingly and still He holds onto me and brought me back from the brink of destruction.

If anyone wants to put me down by saying I need a crutch for my life, you’re absolutely right.  I need Jesus.  Politics doesn’t mean a thing to me because I don’t see politicians or the system really working for the welfare of others rather it’s  just another way to line their own pockets.  Jesus gave til it hurt.  I grant the possibility that He might not be God incarnate, folks, but I will follow this man because I want to be like Him.  

I would rather be like Jesus than anyone else.

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One Response to “The Healing Pool”

  1. tlc4women Says:

    I love the question you asked and answered when Jesus asked if he wanted to be made well. So often, in ministry we try to take matters into our own hands. We assume everyone wants a healing. Well meaning though that may be, sometimes people like the mess they’re in. We need to take a lesson from the Lord and actually ask if our help is needed or wanted.

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