Imagine for a moment that you had a serious illness that was not getting better. Imagine that right next to you was a cure that would heal you of this illness. Now imagine that every time you reached for the cure, someone else would grab it and use it for their illness – and they got healed instead of you.
Now, imagine that this went on for years – up to 38 years! That’s what happened to the lame man at the pool of Bethesda. Every day an angel of the Lord stirred up the water and the first one in the pool was healed. This man tried and tried, but there was no one there to help him so he could never get into the pool.
I can imagine that the first few days were very frustrating. For a few weeks, this man must have felt disappointed day after day. For a few months, he must have anguished at the thought of missing the opportunity every single day. He must have felt anger for those selfish people around him and felt sorry for himself because there was no one to help him in his situation.
But, I imagine after some time – a few months or years – he became accustomed to the thought that he’d never get healed. He must have watched longingly as every day some other blind, deaf or otherwise afflicted body came up out of the cleansing water. He must have grown weary of hearing the cries of joy and shouts of praise. But there he sat.
Then Jesus came and changed everything.
Jesus had compassion on this man. Jesus singled him out from everyone else there that day. Jesus spoke to the man:
6 When Jesus saw him and knew how long he had been ill, he asked him, “Would you like to get well?” 7 “I can’t, sir,” the sick man said, “for I have no one to help me into the pool when the water is stirred up. While I am trying to get there, someone else always gets in ahead of me.”
He never asked to be healed. He had apparently become accustomed to the fact that he had no chance of ever being healed. Even his response to Jesus, “I can’t, sir” denotes his hopelessness and defeat. But The Healer is not deterred:
8 Jesus told him, “Stand up, pick up your sleeping mat, and walk!” 9 Instantly, the man was healed! He rolled up the mat and began walking!
I’m reminded of my own afflictions. Not that I’ve ever known what it’s like to be seriously ill for more than a day or two – let alone 38 years. Yet, there exist in me spiritual maladies that I have carried for many years. I’m a blind man and I’m withered in many areas.
Have I become like this man by the pool of Bathesda? Has it become easier for me to believe that I’ll never be separated from these afflictions? Have I quit trying to move to the pool because of the many years that have passed?
The good news is that God loves us too much to let us stay the same. Like the hopeless man by the pool Jesus singles us out and commands us to break free – take up our bed and walk away from the scenery that has for so long been torturous to endure.
Ask Him to heal you. Quit waiting for someone to come along and push you in. Stop being comfortable where you’re at. Ask for His help to move away from the sidelines, watching everyone else get healed. Stand up and start walking!
Lord, Your love is amazing. Thank You for choosing me and healing me. What you’ve begun – please continue to work on. I have a long way to go, Lord, but I no longer want to sit here comfortable with my afflictions. You have that power, Lord. Speak to me. Command me to break free. I need You, Lord.