We come today, to the pool of Bethesda. Here we see something that, by today’s standards—western standards at least—seems bizarre. Our story is in John 5:1-9
This pool—the name means House of Loving Kindness—had five porches surrounding it. Daily, hundreds of lame, sick, blind and paralyzed people gathered here hoping for a miracle.
John tells us the people were waiting for an angel to come down and stir up the water. When the water stirred, the first one in the pool won a free trip to physical health.
Some Bibles mark this angel part as a later addition to the text. It all feels a little superstitious doesn’t it?
Was it really an angel? What it one of God’s? Perhaps a demon? Perhaps some strange sort of witchcraft?
But you know what—Jesus didn’t comment on it. So—I’ve already said too much I suppose.
I'm also struck by Jesus's choice to heal one man this day. So often in the gospels we read the story of Jesus healing them all. For instance, the evening after the Sabbath when He healed Peter’s Mother-In-Law. That night He came out after sunset and healed everyone in the city. But not here at the pool of Loving Kindness. At least it’s not recorded. Again—just one of those things to notice.
Jesus approaches one man.
Why this man? Maybe he was wearing his thirty-eight year perfect attendance pin. Maybe he was the sickest, or most hopeless. More likely (and at least this one is scriptural,) He saw His Father healing this man. (See John 5:19 - just down the page.)
Whatever the reason, Jesus approaches this man who has been sick for some thirty-eight years.
Let’s talk about this interchange for a minute.
Jesus asks him a simple and seemingly obvious question.
He said to him, "Do you wish to get well?" - John 5:6
This is a great place to start.
Our churches and gatherings draw a great many folks who never quite get into the water. They sit in church, and sings the songs, but never set their affections on the One Whose name they take. They sit under the sound of good preaching, but the Word of God never finds good soil in their hearts. For these reasons, and other, they bear no fruit.
It’s time to put the question to them, and to ourselves…
Do you wish to get well?
Though to me anyway, the answer seemed obvious—the man actually makes excuses.
The sick man answered Him, "Sir, I have no man to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up, but while I am coming, another steps down before me." - John 5:7
It strikes me that this man’s answer has nothing whatsoever to do with Jesus’ question.
I wonder if he was answering the question he had heard a thousand times before—the question he expected this mild-mannered man to ask. The question his family and friends had asked him over and over. Even his pool-side companions would ask him this question. It was the question he could not face.
“Why do you sit here, day after day?”
But that’s not what Jesus asked.
In our last installment we met a man who asked the wrong question. The Royal Official asked Jesus to come to his son’s bedside.
This time Jesus asks the question and the sick man gives the wrong answer.
But there' some good news here. His non-answer didn't drive Jesus away. Jesus opens the healing door for him, no matter how bad his answer was.
Are you thinking, "Jesus didn’t offer healing, He simply healed the man?"
But did He?
He gave the man an imperative—a command.
Jesus said to him, "Get up, pick up your pallet and walk." - John 5:8
What would have happened if this man gave excuses now? Was he healed and didn’t know it, or did the healing take place as he obeyed the Master’s command?
I think sometimes we consider ourselves people of faith all the while sitting at the side of the pool making excuses. Perhaps, like the man, we believe in healing. We believe God does miracles. We believe God wants to save the lost. We know Jesus mends broken hearts. But we sit and make excuses.
But this pool-sitter obeyed!
He got up and took up his bed and walked, and everything changed.
Thirty-eight years of going through the motions, over in an instant.
It’s time to “Get up” friends. It’s time to receive the life God has for us. It's time to step out of our pool-side life and step into a life in the Spirit. Jesus promised a river of living water flowing through us, and we sit beside stagnant waters making excuses. [Tweet This]
I don’t know what God has planned for you, but I know it’s right on the other side of obedience. Think back to the last thing He spoke into your life.
Now, get up and do it!
Lord, would you bring to our memory that last Word. Would you give us opportunity to obey and step into the life to which You’re calling us? I know You have more for us. Give us the courage to get up and walk!
Hey - thanks for stopping in.
See you again soon.
PS - Get up and walk.