There they were–the masses of broken people. Their diseases and handicaps were varied, but their hope was the same. They gathered here at this place every day by whatever means could get them there, because the word on the street was that some people who came to this place left completely healed.
The Pool of Bethesda is what I am talking about. John 5:1-9 tells us of this pool near the sheep gate in Jerusalem where all of the lame, sick, diseased and broken would come because at a certain season, an angel of the Lord would come down and stir the waters of the pool. Whoever was the first person to get into the pool when the waters were stirred would be healed. This is where Jesus comes and encounters a man who has been lame for 38 years. Jesus begins a dialogue with this man by asking him the question: “Do you want to get well?”
Sometimes I see myself as that man sitting by the pool. Like the man lame from birth, I have finally found a way to get myself to the places where I expect to find the answers to my questions and the ability to overcome my obstacles but there’s just one problem…actually it is a combination of problems that keep me frustrated.
#1 Problem: I am jealous. It doesn’t seem to matter how many times I come to this place, I am never at the pool fast enough when the angels stir the water. You see, my parents aren’t wealthy, so they aren’t able to “buy me my dreams” or fund my ambitions like all the other guys here. Some of these people have teams around them ready to sweep them up and chuck them in the water at the first sign of a ripple. I, on the other hand have to drag myself nearer to the pool by my arms and elbows and there is always someone in my way who cannot move. It isn’t fair. Sometimes I can’t even see the opportunity when it comes because of my lowly position on my mat and I hear about it only after the crowd has been stirred and someone has stepped over me or on me in order to get to the water.
I have to admit, I’m pretty ticked off at the people here at this pool who have no respect for anyone except themselves. That’s my problem #2. People here are so selfish, and I resent them for it. I can’t count how many times I have been stepped on, kicked, pushed aside and overlooked by others who themselves were trying to get to the water. I’ve gotten close to the water a time or two. I usually meet someone there as desperate as me. While we wait for the water to stir, we exchange stories. Sometimes I almost feel friendly towards them. I feel a kinship because we share the same need and desire and then it happens–the water is stirred, I inch my may forward and my new friend, uses me as a springboard to launch themselves in ahead of me. The splash of the water on my skin feels like a stinging arrow as I am left, still laying lame beside the pool. The bitter truth is that I will never see that guy again. He’s moving on with his newly restored life. Not me. Man, I resent him.
If you really analyzed my situation the way I have it would be clear to you that my dream is just an impossibility! Face it, it’s been 38 years! I’m not getting any richer, stronger, or smarter. There is no one here who wants to help me into the pool. I am alone. I am forgotten. I am lame. I am resigned to my handicap–that’s my problem #3. As you can clearly see, my reasons are justified.
So why does Jesus show up at this pool and ask me if I want to get well? Duuuuuhhh!! Why else would I be here? Can’t he see my twisted, lame legs? Of course He had to have noticed that even as He speaks to me I am still laying motionless on my mat. I have to explain it all over again: “Sir, (whoever you are…obviously unobserving man…) I have no one to help me in the pool when the water is stirred. While I am trying to get in, someone else goes down ahead of me.” (Verse 7 with parenthetical commentary being mine.)
Or maybe He sees through me to my heart. Is he looking at my jealousies? Is He referring to my bitter, resentment? Is He peering into my resignation and stack of excuses? Could that be why He is asking me this question?
His response to my excuses was this: “Get up, pick up your mat, and walk.” There were these split seconds in my head of thoughts as I tried to comprehend his command. “Who does He think He is? What makes Him think He can talk to me that way? There are others here on mats. Why isn’t He ordering them around?” But it is just a split second of thoughts because there is something about this man that melts my defenses. Something in the way He speaks that infuses me with such electric hope, that I cannot help but respond to His words. I don’t know why, but for some reason I am lifting up my head and willing my body to get up and balance on legs that have never supported my weight. I’m leaning over now and rolling up my mat with the intent to walk out of this place. I’m standing. I’m packing. I’m walking!!
The compassion I wanted was empathy, but what I needed was hope. The solution I desired was assistance, but what I needed was a Savior. I needed a “Big Break”? No, I needed a Big God.
Jesus came to me the same way he came to the lame man at the Pool of Bethesda. He looked at me personally and asked, “Do you want to get well?”
I realize that I can spend a lot of time waiting for angels, all the while building my arsenal of excuses and bitterness. I can easily slip into a mode of self-protection and become selfish and guarded. The problem is, I have a Savior standing in front of me who is full of hope, power, authority and mercy. He doesn’t need my excuses, He needs my trust. He isn’t here to chuck me into the pool, He is here to take me by the hand and walk me out of my lameness of life. And you know what? I think that taking a walk sounds real good about now!