The Third Sign – The Healing at Bethesda
Home Church Devotional 5/24/2020
These devotionals were written during the 2020 Covid-19 pandemic when area churches were not allowed to meet for fear of spreading the coronavirus. They were used in place of a full sermon as my family and I gathered for worship and communion.After these things there was a feast of the Jews, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. Now there is in Jerusalem by the sheep gate a pool, which is called in Hebrew Bethesda, having five porticoes. In these lay a multitude of those who were sick, blind, lame, and withered, [waiting for the moving of the waters; for an angel of the Lord went down at certain seasons into the pool and stirred up the water; whoever then first, after the stirring up of the water, stepped in was made well from whatever disease with which he was afflicted.] A man was there who had been ill for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him lying there, and knew that he had already been a long time in that condition, He *said to him, “Do you wish to get well?” The sick man answered Him, “Sir, I have no man to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up, but while I am coming, another steps down before me.” Jesus said to him, “Get up, pick up your pallet and walk.” Immediately the man became well, and picked up his pallet and began to walk. Now it was the Sabbath on that day.John 5:1-9 (NASB)
God helps those who help themselves. Right? Isn’t that what we have always been taught? Always heard? How many times have you told a friend or family member this very thing? Maybe if we do something, anything, it will inspire God to see our struggle and make things right for us. Right now. We won’t ask for help, but we know that if we are helping ourselves, God will see and give us what we truly want and rightfully deserve. There is only one small problem with this thinking. That isn’t what the Bible says. It is NOT God’s word at all. We are told to throw all of our cares and anxiety on God, not work to get God’s attention and THEN He will help us.
We encounter Jesus as He walks into the midst of a multitude of those who are lame, blind, crippled and injured. They have gathered at the sheep pool used to water and tend the sheep herds. The five porticoes make for a very large, covered area providing shade and relief from the heat of the day. It is here that Jesus encounters a man who has been ill for thirty-eight years. This is a gathering place for human suffering, and like the others who have gathered here this man has come to the one place that holds hope for healing. Jesus now walks among them as One who offers healing that goes beyond the physical needs of those disabled. Jesus, of course, knowing all things, knows this man’s suffering and how long he has suffered.
This mans need is a long-standing need, one that has overshadowed him for thirty-eight years. In a very basic sense, we all suffer from some long-standing need from our past, from the hurt and mistakes we made. But, for some, their experience with this shadow is particularly dark and overwhelming. Do you have as shadow hanging over you that is particularly dark and overwhelming? Is there a mistake from the past that still accuses you in the dark of the night? Is there some hurt that will not heal? People everywhere are grasping for something to help through their daily lives. Are you searching and grasping for something, anything to help you make it through another day?
Jesus approaches this man and reaches out to help him. “Do you wish to get well?” Seems like a silly question to ask someone who has been ill for thirty-eight years…right? But this question shows that Jesus will not force Himself on anyone, He ask permission before intervening in anyone’s life and it gives the man an opportunity to confess his need for help. But there is something else at play here as well. In some cases, beggars have carved out a nice living for themselves. Being cured might cause more issues than spending the day begging because of an illness. Being cured has implications. In this case a long-standing way of life built around an infirmity.
We must all face this question from Jesus. Are we ready to face the implications – repenting of sins made in the past and a new commitment to Jesus? We may not like the way Jesus begins to purge our lives of those things we think we need or want. We may not like when He points out sinful habits and actions. We may not like when He cleanses our lives of friendships and other toxic relationships. We may not be prepared to be called out publicly to make a stand for Jesus. And yet these are just the things we may face when we come to Jesus for healing that goes beyond our physical need.
In this case, the man confesses his need for hep in a complaint. “I have no one to put me in the pool…” His hope for healing is caught behind his helplessness of getting into the water. We too must confess our dependency and decide if we want Jesus to heal us. Jesus offers more than a minor healing – He offers transformation! It is only when we admit our need that we receive the miracle of salvation and eternal life. Jesus knows your helplessness. He knows your need. Jesus has the power to bring not only healing but transformation. In this case, the man does not know he is healed until he obeys Jesus and stands, taking his pallet and walked away.
No one has to continue on and on through life just as they have always been. You do not need to continue enslaved to the sin and corruption. You do not need to carry the desperate needs of the world alone. You can experience the healing power of Jesus Christ, the power to change your life and make you into a new person. All you have to do is one simple thing: believe the Word of Jesus Christ enough to obey, doing exactly what Jesus says. It is a clear fact: if we believe Him, we obey Him; if we do not believe Him, we do not obey Him. To be made whole and changed into a new person—a new person who is freed from the sin and desperate needs of this corruptible world—we have to believe Him enough to obey Him.
Jesus is standing among those who are desperate and need healing, but He will not force Himself into your life. He will always ask permission before He intervenes in your life. May today be the day you allow Him to bring, not only healing, but transformation. To the glory of God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. Amen.