After this 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 porches. In these lay a great multitude of sick people, blind, lame, paralyzed, waiting for the moving of the water. For an angel went down at a certain time into the pool and stirred up the water; then whoever stepped in first, after the stirring of the water, was made well of whatever disease he had.
Now a certain man was there who had an infirmity thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him lying there, and knew that he already had been in that condition a long time, He said to him, “Do you want to be made 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, “Rise, take up your bed and walk.” And immediately the man was made well, took up his bed, and walked.
And that day was the Sabbath. The Jews therefore said to him who was cured, “It is the Sabbath; it is not lawful for you to carry your bed.”
He answered them, “He who made me well said to me, ‘Take up your bed and walk.’” Jn. 5:1-11
Most of us are familiar with this passage in John 5. We know about the mysterious healings that took place at this pool when heaven touched the water. It was the ultimate race for a free gift. I imagine there was a fierce competition to be the first one in the water. I also assume that one thing that attracted Jesus to this particular sick man was his despair.
Think about it. Suppose you are unable to walk or stand without assistance. Suppose you have spent months or years helpless on a smelly mattress watching person after person push forward and receive the miracle for which your heart so longs. Still you lay there, feeling the flicker of hope fall to ash until all that remains in your cold heart is a wistful longing, like a hungry man waking from dreams of a feast. Is it any wonder he did not recognize to whom he spoke? Despair had crippled his emotions more surely than disease had twisted his body.
My favorite part of this story? Jesus not only healed his body, He set him free from the bondage of a law too heavy for any man to bear. With reckless disregard for the crushing, Pharisee-drive interpretation of the Sabbath, Jesus told him to stand up and carry his bed home; and the man obeyed.
Are you living as a slave or a free child today? Scripture tells us that it is for freedom that Christ has set us free (Gal. 5:1). The only requirement is that we live in obedience to the Master. His heart is for our emotional healing just as much as He desires to heal our physical bodies. We need His persperctive on pain–to remember that there is an appointed end to suffering and that only our own bitterness and unbelief can separate us from His ability to heal.
I don’t always understand the struggle. I rarely understand why He allows so much time to elapse before deliverance comes; however, I know beyond all things that He is a faithful God and has never broken a promise.
Return to your fortress, prisoner of hope… Zech. 9:12