John 5:1-15; the healing at the pool.
An invalid for thirty eight years was lying at the pool called Bethesda. At the time, it was believed that an angel stirs up the pool’s water and whoever gets in while it is stirred became healed of his or her infirmity. Only one person can get healed at a time. Jesus approached him and questioned if he wanted to be healed. The invalid responded that he had no one to help him. Jesus healed him and told him to get up and pick up his mat. The Jews questioned why the former invalid carried his mat on a Sabbath. He told them that his Healer told him to. He did not know who healed him. Jesus cautioned him to stop sinning or something worse would befall the former invalid. The healed man found the Jews and told them it was Jesus who healed him and told him to carry his mat.
I must confess. This story bewildered me. I’ve been thinking about it for over four weeks now. It evoked many questions such as the following. Why did Jesus ask him if he wanted to be healed? He being at the pool should be obvious enough. Did the invalid have a victim’s mentality? Did he solely focus on what others did and did not do for him? Had he given up hope of being healed? Did he harbor unforgiveness? What did Jesus mean by ‘stop sinning’? What can an invalid do? Or is it the thoughts, feelings, and his words he needed to watch out for? Was this illness due to sin? Perhaps the invalid had a haughty heart? Why did Jesus heal him if the latter would not appreciate it or give glory to God? Or did he appreciate the miraculous healing? Did Jesus heal anyone else? Or He intended to heal only him? Was John the apostle the only witness of this miracle? The other three gospels did not document it.
The one comment that alarms me the most is the stop sinning or something worst will happen. Many preachers comfort people telling them that their circumstances are not due to sin; that God does not punish for sin. Well, they are right. God does not punish us for our sin. We do. He set up few spiritual laws ages ago. One of those was the sowing and reaping law. So God does not have to do anything. He lets nature or life take its course. The trouble with sowing and reaping is the sowing being few seeds while the reaping is multiplied. There is a waiting period between the sowing and the reaping. If we confess and repent anytime after sowing a sin, we stop the progress of the reaping of consequences. The predicament is knowing what is sin and what is not. There are obvious examples such as murdering, stealing, even adultery. What about hating someone? Malice? Jealousy? Envy? Hurting someone with words? Making fun? Avoiding someone? Ignoring someone? You know, the gray areas.
Another issue I have with this question is that God waited 38 years to tell the man the reason for his illness. Why wait that long? Did God wait for the man to be ready to listen? Or was God speaking to him all along and the man did not want to listen? It makes me shudder to think that perhaps there is something in my life that is hindered in the same way. It also makes me affirm that I am nothing without God. He gives all good gifts. He gives wisdom, understanding, and knowledge among other good things to those who ask Him.
On another note, Jesus is faithful to show up at the perfect time. If He does not show up personally, He usually sends others. He saw something in the invalid no one else saw. He wanted to heal him. He was able to heal him. As He was able to heal back then, He is able now. Will you trust Him?
I have been privileged to visit a nearby quay recently. It is more like a bridge that houses a restaurant at the far end. It is not a boating dock, mind you. It is for entertainment purposes. Perhaps there is a better word to describe it, but I do not know it. Many people visit it. We were no exceptions. Since it was a long walk, I decided to enjoy it and people watch. What I saw confirmed what I already knew. Everyone has pain. It shows. It is obvious just by looking at people. And it hurts me. Why? Because I am helpless to do anything.
O Lord, please help me to not allow my pain and tears to stop me from seeing the pain in others. Although I may not be able to do anything, I just wish to let them know that they are not alone and that many have experienced what they are experiencing and have overcome with Jesus as their strength. To you alone be all of the glory. Amen.