In John 5, Jesus asks a man a question; a man who, at first glance it would seem has been longing for healing for 38 years.
“Do you want to be healed?” Seems an odd question, since the man has been coming here day after day for years. Yet the man’s response is so telling -the state of his heart so transparent to Jesus. This challenging question, and Jesus’ manner towards the man resounds with my own heart – maybe it will with yours today too?
“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?”
Can you picture it? Here this man is, at the side of the pool that is credited with having healing water. The name Bethesda, as you might know, means ‘House of mercy’ or House of grace. This man had been dragging his weary, sick body to this place of supposed healing, year after year, for THIRTY EIGHT years and repeatedly went away unchanged, unhealed, disappointed; watching as others stepped into the water and recieve their healing.
What really struck me about this parable is that we can so easily be just like that man. I could so easily be him!
Our churches are filled with people like him. Wounds inflicted by past relationships that just don’t seem to heal, and bleed a little when inadvertently pressed on by an insensitive joke or comment. Being ‘overlooked’ yet again, in favour of someone else. Debilitating financial worry, that has taken a grip on your heart so that you struggle to sleep at night.
Some go to church, week after week, year after year, your own ‘Bethesda’, the house of Mercy, and look on as others receive their healing. Everyone else’s life seems to be so in order – so perfect, while you go home repeatedly disappointed.
The man’s response to Jesus’ question is so revealing of his state of mind and heart. Jesus’ question was simple ‘do you want to be healed’? I had to really think about that. What would I say if Jesus stood in front of me and asked me that question? I’d like to think I’d say “Yes!”
But instead of saying, with relief, ‘yes please’. The man immediately launched into a tirade of blame, finger pointing and self pity. ‘No one will help me’ and ‘someone always gets there before me’. (John 5:7)
Jesus didn’t enter into debate with the man over this. He simply told him that if he really wanted to be healed all he needed to do was to “pick up your bed and walk.”
Isn’t the man’s response so typical of us all? I’ll be first to put my hand up and say I’ve been there. The blaming others for my state. The finger pointing. The self pity.
The incredible news is that as children of God we have full access to The REAL House of Mercy, God’s throne room!
Psalm 46:4 tells us:
“There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy habitation of the Most High”
and Revelation 22:17 ”let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who desires take the water of life without price.”
We don’t have to wait for someone else to ‘spoon feed’ us, we are all invited to ‘come’.
All who are thirsty. Are you thirsty?
Yet still, we so often sit at the side of the water, nursing age-old hurts, wounds, sickness, fears and anxieties.
Jesus still says to us today “Do you [really] want to be healed? Then get up and walk”.
It’s as simple, yet profound as that.
Hear Him, get up from where you are, and walk in the Truths of His Word regarding your situation, whatever it may be.