Afterward Jesus returned to Jerusalem for one of the Jewish holy days. Inside the city, near the Sheep Gate, was the pool of Bethesda, with five covered porches. Crowds of sick people—blind, lame, or paralyzed—lay on the porches. One of the men lying there had been sick for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him and knew he had been ill for a long time, he asked him, “Would you like to get well?”
“I can’t, sir,” the sick man said, “for I have no one to put me into the pool when the water bubbles up. Someone else always gets there ahead of me.”
Jesus told him, “Stand up, pick up your mat, and walk!”
Instantly, the man was healed! He rolled up his sleeping mat and began walking! But this miracle happened on the Sabbath
The people had their hope in this water. The stirring of the water was their hope.
Jesus asked the man, “Would you like to get well?” But the man’s response was really an answer to a completely different question.
Jesus asked if he would like get well. This man answered the question, “Can you get well?”
He didn’t give him an answer, he gave him an excuse. Did this man know Jesus was a healer? Did he care? Should that have changed his answer?
How many times do we do the same thing?
Make up excuses.
Not take responsibility.
The truth is, we are afraid. We fear what could be, what should be, what will be if we only answer the question being asked, “Would you like to get well?”
Had fear kept this man from wanting to be made well? Had he become identified by his illness? Was it the only thing he knew was true about himself? Who was he without this illness?
Fear gripped him into settling into his paralysis.
Fear paralyzes us.
He made a bed in the thing that was holding him down.
“This is just who I am.” The truth is, he was more.
We are more than our fear. We are more than anger. We are more than our insecurities. We are more than our apathy.
We justify our weaknesses by excusing them away because we become afraid of who we can/will be without them. Like a child with a ratty old blanket, our insecurities become our security.
We can’t stay in the same place and expect things to be different.
Essentially, this man had given up all hope except for that annual stirring of the water. And that was a long shot at best. He had settled into the belief that he was going too be this invalid for the rest of his life.
The man thought Jesus was asking about the pool. Jesus was asking about the man. Jesus is more concerned with us than he is our weaknesses.
Our insecurities do not frighten Jesus.
Our weaknesses do not frighten Jesus.
We have a choice. We have to choose to not let fear win.
Jesus is asking us now if we’d like to be made well. But that requires us to be really vulnerable. That means letting go of the thing that always been there “for us”… our insecurities.
Because the truth is, our insecurities don’t serve us the way we’ve convinced ourselves they do. They hold us down. They lie to us. They stroke our cheeks as if they are soothing us while they tie our feet to the ground.
The man in the story was paralyzed. But his ailment represents ours as well. We have an opportunity to embrace the healing, wholeness, and courage Jesus offers.
But it takes vulnerability and strapping the fear on and moving forward anyway.
Here’s what I love about this story. Jesus healed this man anyway. He didn’t answer the question correctly, he may have not even believed Jesus could do it. But Jesus healed him anyway.
Thank God Christ’s healing isn’t based on what we do, but rather on who He is. That’s really good news. Because no matter where we’ve been, what we’ve done, where we currently are or how we currently feel, Jesus is present and willing to engage in our story.
All we have to do is respond. Even if we respond incorrectly! If we can just look towards Jesus, that’s the first step to making room for Jesus to do something transformative in our lives.
There’s a lot more I could write about this but we’ll save that for another day. But I hope you find some encouragement in knowing that Jesus isn’t scared of the things that we’re scared of. He’s not frightened by our weaknesses. He isn’t turned off by our insecurities.
As a matter of fact, it’s those things that draw Him to us. He’s asking, “Do you want to be made well?”
All we have to do is answer. And it begins.