Once more he visited Cana in Galilee, where he had turned the water into wine. And there Some time later, Jesus went up to Jerusalem for one of the Jewish festivals. Now there is in Jerusalem near the Sheep Gate a pool, which in Aramaic is called Bethesda and which is surrounded by five covered colonnades. Here a great number of disabled people used to lie—the blind, the lame, the paralyzed. One who was there had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him lying there and learned that he had been in this condition for a long time, he asked him, “Do you want to get well?”
“Sir,” the invalid replied, “I have no one to help me into the pool when the water is stirred. While I am trying to get in, someone else goes down ahead of me.”
Then Jesus said to him, “Get up! Pick up your mat and walk.” At once the man was cured; he picked up his mat and walked.
The day on which this took place was a Sabbath
- John 5:1-9
“The great Physician fixed his eyes on him, for his was an extraordinary case. Probably he was known and talked of as the man who had been paralyzed thirty-eight years. Note that it does not say, ‘When the man saw Jesus,’ but, ‘When Jesus saw him.’ He did not know Jesus. Possibly he had not even heard of his healing power and compassionate love. He was not seeking Jesus, but Jesus was seeking him.”
- Charles H. Spurgeon, from his sermon notes
I wrote this post over a week ago, not thinking of the coronavirus, and before the “lockdown.”
Rev. Spurgeon focuses on an important factor in this bizarre conversation, that Jesus sought this man out, but the conversation is strange, at best.
Jesus begins the conversation by asking if the man wants to get well? Wouldn’t anyone? Oh, not everyone? Why?
Some people are so used to living off the generosity of others, or relying on the government social programs, that they do not know what it is like to work a steady job. Yet, some beggars in India, and I am sure in many other countries, are so regimented in the routine that ‘showing up to work’ is something that they are very familiar with.
I have thought about it many times. C. S. Lewis wrote about the blind man who gains his sight belongs in no social group. He is no longer blind, so he can’t go back there. He has no experience of having ever seen, so he has no basis in conversation among the sighted. He is an entity unto himself.
My thought, in reading the C. S. Lewis quote and reading about miracles in the Bible, is: Now he must learn how to get a job and learn the skills of the job. Maybe this rabbit hole of mine is due to having to spend too much time in my life looking for employment while working in the technical training field – helping people obtain and improve job skills. My mind naturally tracks in that direction – my working passion for the last 30 years of my working career.
So, the question is quite legitimate. Does this career beggar want to get well? Does he have any marketable skills, other than begging?
And the next part of the conversation is “evasion.” The beggar never answers Jesus’ question. Instead, he whines about having no one to help him into the water when the water was stirred – the signal that the healing powers of the pool are activated. He never says, “Yes, I want to get well.”
But Jesus can read the man’s mind. In my wife’s vision, she was talking to an angel, but neither of them ‘said’ anything, they thought it. I have heard about and read about others who have had similar experiences. They simply thought and the other replied with their thoughts. If this is true, Jesus was communicating with the beggar silently, and the Apostle John only heard the words that were spoken, making the conversation a bit strange.
Strange? After the beggar did nothing but complain and whine, Jesus did nothing at all. He simply told the man to get up, pick up his mat, and walk. The beggar did so. Of course, the beggar did not get home before the legalists in the crowd confronted the former beggar, who probably had no job skills. The beggar had been carrying his mat on the Sabbath, but the beggar had not sought Jesus. He had no idea who Jesus was, but once he found out, after Jesus greeted him in the temple, he went back to tell the other Jews that it was Jesus – thus starting the persecution of Jesus in Judah.
So, here’s the question: Do you want to get well?
Oh, you aren’t sick? But isn’t sin in your life a type of sickness? Would you like to have the strength and power to resist temptation, overcome a bad habit, or simply clear your mind so that you can focus on Jesus, and Jesus alone?
Now, if you have never worked a day in your life due to one reason or another, would you like to have the opportunity of accomplishing something and telling others, “I did that?” Being healed of one type of disability or another can lead to a lot of hard work, but some have accomplished great things in spite of their disabilities by even greater work, help from others, and adapting to their abilities. In fact, they do not consider themselves disabled, for they have gone beyond that thought to being abled. They took their disability as an excuse, overcoming it.
Do you want to get well?
Soli Deo Gloria. Only to God be the Glory.