Later on there was a Jewish festival (feast) for which Jesus went up to Jerusalem.
Now there is in Jerusalem a pool near the Sheep Gate. This pool in the Hebrew is called Bethesda, having five porches (alcoves, colonnades, doorways).
In these lay a great number of sick folk—some blind, some crippled, and some paralyzed (shriveled up)—waiting for the bubbling up of the water.
For an angel of the Lord went down at appointed seasons into the pool and moved and stirred up the water; whoever then first, after the stirring up of the water, stepped in was cured of whatever disease with which he was afflicted.
There was a certain man there who had suffered with a deep-seated and lingering disorder for thirty-eight years.
When Jesus noticed him lying there [helpless], knowing that he had already been a long time in that condition, He said to him, Do you want to become well? [Are you really in earnest about getting well?]
The invalid answered, Sir, I have nobody when the water is moving to put me into the pool; but while I am trying to come [into it] myself, somebody else steps down ahead of me.
Jesus said to him, Get up! Pick up your bed (sleeping pad) and walk!
Instantly the man became well and recovered his strength and picked up his bed and walked. But that happened on the Sabbath.
So the Jews kept saying to the man who had been healed, It is the Sabbath, and you have no right to pick up your bed [it is not lawful].
He answered them, The Man Who healed me and gave me back my strength, He Himself said to me, Pick up your bed and walk!
This story about Jesus and a man with a ‘lingering’ disorder keeps knocking around in my brain these days. I’m not quite sure why. But here are a couple of thoughts that have stood out to me…and maybe they’ll start knocking around in your mind, too.
This guy had something that had plagued him his whole life.
The translation I’m using describes it as ‘lingering’ and ‘deep-seated.’
It also says that others around him were ‘blind,’ ‘crippled,’ ‘paralyzed,’ and ‘shriveled up.’
They were all waiting for a system for how to get well…and it was a limited system. There was space for only a few, and there was not space for this man. The system limited him for getting well, getting free, getting healed of his deep-seated disorder. It wasn’t powerful enough to help with the depth of what he was carrying. And the system wasn’t strong enough to deal with the scope of debilitating needs all around.
He couldn’t get set free by the system or by the pattern of what everyone else was doing.
But it strikes me very deeply the way that he DID get set free, that he got healed: he came face-to-face with the person of Jesus. Jesus didn’t do any fancy system or pattern of special things. He Himself just made this guy well. It was Jesus. It was being in His presence. It was an encounter with Jesus. It was the merciful, powerful, full-of-ability-and-capacity-choice of Jesus, a real person.
I don’t have much to say besides that story keeps coming to my mind.
Are there ways you tend to turn to a system to heal you, to save you, to make you well? Are there ways you’re ’waiting in line’ for your healing and there’s not really space for you in the system? I know for me I tend towards looking to a system for what I need because it’s more controllable, I can understand it and explain it more easily. If you look further in the passage, this healed man received a lot of grief about his healing because he couldn’t explain it in the current rules of what was acceptable.
I’d like to encourage you to look to Person of Jesus, look to His very real Presence for the very real needs that you carry today. For the things that you’ve carried for a long time, the things that are deep-seated and lingering, what if Jesus is right in the midst of all the people, asking you if you really want to get well? Your reality probably is that you are most likely surrounded by people who genuinely are crippled, who are blind, who are paralyzed, and shriveled up on the inside, and they, as well, need you to blaze a trail away from waiting for the ‘pool to get stirred,’ and to turn to the Person of Jesus…and to show them the way, too.
My guess is that He fully sees you, in all that you have experienced and all that you are experiencing, and His eyes are full of mercy and capacity to heal.