John 5: 2-9 from “The Message”
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 how long he had been ill, he asked him, “Would you like to get well?” “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.”
Jesus told him, “Stand up, pick up your sleeping mat, and walk!”
Instantly, the man was healed! He rolled up the mat and began walking!
I had a hard time sleeping last night because of some residual pain from an injury I had a few years back. I was also thinking about various people, wishing I could do something to help them along in their own painful journeys. I couldn’t put my mind fully at rest until I prayed for my friends and for myself. This scripture came to mind because it profoundly came alive to me several years back when I was in my darkest moment.
The man in scripture had been sick for 38 years. He was a paralytic, from what I can gather in this portion of reading. I know that this scripture has been used in many sermons over the years and I am by no means a theologian so I won’t attempt to shed deep theological light on it. I will only relate my simple thoughts.
Jesus knew that the man had been ill for 38 years. He knew. Jesus had the power and the knowledge to take this man’s affliction from him years ago and yet he remained by the pool waiting for what he thought would be his opportunity to receive his healing. He thought that he would be healed in the same manner in which the others were being healed; by stepping into the stirred waters. When Jesus questioned him about his desire to get well, the man was quick to say, “I can’t…no one will help me…someone always gets ahead of me.” And so the dialogue goes. I am sure that if we could have been there we would have heard much more conversation than what is noted. But what became very clear to me is that pivotal question, “Do you want to get well?”
I notice here probably more of what Jesus doesn’t say in this passage. He doesn’t say, “Hey, you guys step aside and let this guy get in the pool”. He doesn’t say, “Will someone come and help this man to his feet”. He doesn’t say, “I am Jesus, I will walk for you”. No. He says to the broken man, “Stand up, pick up your mat, and walk!” Out of a desire to do anything to receive healing the man did exactly that. He got up and he “began” walking. Scripture doesn’t tell us that he went out and climbed mountains or ran marathons.
Maybe the point of it is to know that he simply began. Are you desperate for healing? Are you wanting to hear the answer to the question that we all ask at some point, why? Do you need to take a step out on your own toward that healing or answer? I don’t know. What I do know is that for many years I felt paralyzed; paralyzed by fear, loneliness and depression. There came a day when I decided to “get up”. I took one step and then two and eventually the spring was even back in my step.
Was this the cure all? No, not really. Life continues and so do its maladies. I often return to this portion of scripture and I continue to get up and take forward steps; sometimes slow, deliberate steps. There are those who will be critical when we fail and those who will criticize the manner in which we reach out for healing. There have been those who were critical of my healing process because it wasn’t what they wanted for me at the time. They wanted to see me go to an altar and be instantly healed in my mind of all depression, sadness and anything else that seemed to plague me. If that is what it took to get them to lift up a prayer for me, then I am thankful for their prayers. It has been the prayers of many and a fierce determination to rise above it all that keeps me walking forward.
I know that in all things, God will walk with me. I believe that sometimes He just sits back and watches me take each step like a proud parent watches a child. I also think that there are times that he wants to reach out to keep us from falling.
If I could see your resume of injuries, internally and externally, would it show me that you are the perfect candidate for healing? Are you ready for the walk that is ahead of you? Taking the first step toward healing is hard, but so very worth it. You will not be alone. Each step you take will strengthen you as you go. And when you are asked, “Do you want to get well?”, your answer will be, “Yes”. Step by step, day by day, you will get stronger and before you know it, you will be walking along side the next person who has come to waters.
Thanks for stopping by,