“Now there is in Jerusalem by the Sheep Gate a pool, in Aramaic called Bethesda, which has five roofed colonnades. In these lay a multitude of invalids—blind, lame, and paralyzed. One man was there who had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him lying there and knew that he had already been there a long time, he said to him, ‘Do you want to be healed?’ The sick man answered him, ‘Sir, I have no one to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up, and while I am going another steps down before me.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Get up, take up your bed, and walk.’ And at once the man was healed, and he took up his bed and walked.” John 5:2-9
Thirty-eight years is an eternity for one who cannot move well, and the lovely Bethesda pool had become an easy home. When Jesus approached him, He knew the man’s condition: physical incapacity as well as his attitude of blaming others for his condition, or at least any improvement to his situation. Jesus’ question is interesting, “Do you want to be healed?” He was touching on this man’s will, his ‘want-to,’ and was eliciting a heart response. Still lame through and through, the invalid answered, “woe is me,” “I can’t,” “I try but others prevent me,” all ruses his long hours on the ground had convinced him were true. But when Jesus appeared, bringing a sweep of mercy and spiritual awakening that only He can do, everything changed. Once He had the man’s attention, it was game on. In a word, He required the man to get up, pick up (to get rid of) his old enabler mat, and walk in new life. His healing manifested itself when the patient responded to His call.
Isn’t it the human tendency to wallow in discomfort or misfortune and blame others for my grievances? ‘If he wasn’t so difficult I could be happier;’ ‘If she were more supportive, I could be more effective;’ ‘I was made this way.’ Are we content to be spiritually complacent? Do we find an odd comfort in staying like we are, rather than risking a fresh and better attitude, new and healthier habits? Have we held bitterness so long we are strangely afraid to let it go, fearful at what God might want to do in restoring us? Do we resist His redemption of the heart because we are reluctant to surrender temporal pleasures? Do I chafe at having Him remake my identity, separate from my sin or pain?
Lord, may I never delight in misery over the joy You intend for me. Break in to the infirmities of my heart, dissolve my resistances, and turn my face to Your merciful eyes. Bid me rise from old ways of thinking and behaving that are numb to Your power, that I may walk in Your glorious strength and purposes. (2 Corinthians 5:17)