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. John 5:1-3, NIV
Rumor had it that on occasion an angel would visit the pool and agitate the water. People believed that when this happened, the first person who was able to step into the pool would be healed of their affliction. As a result, the pool of Bethesda was regularly surrounded by the sick, the blind and the lame, who were all hoping to be the next recipient of miraculous healing.
One of these regular pool-watchers was a man who’d been disabled for 38 years. The Bible doesn’t describe the specifics of his condition, or when he acquired it. It does say however that the man was lying on a mat, and that he had no one to help him into the water.
When our story opens, Jesus has been in Jerusalem for one of the Jewish feasts. He stops by the pool of Bethesda where he encounters the infirmed man. Knowing the man’s situation, Jesus starts up a conversation with him.
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?” John 5:6, NIV
Now, the man has no idea who Jesus is. But by his reaction it seems as though he suspects Jesus is offering to help him get into the water, and so he responds in kind.
“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.” John 5:7, NIV
With a new-found hope of getting the assistance he needs, the man explains his dilemma to Jesus. Surely this kind stranger will recognize his disability and carry him, if necessary, into the pool. Jesus however, has something altogether different in mind.
Then Jesus said to him, “Get up! Pick up your mat and walk.” John 5:8, NIV
Whoa! Can’t you just imagine that the man’s first reaction might have been, “Um…what?” But then he notices a change. Something is different. He feels… different. There is a tingling in his legs. There is strength in his muscles.
At once the man was cured; he picked up his mat and walked. John 5:9a, NIV
The man cannot believe what has just happened to him. For so long he’d been disabled and now he can walk! He had just wanted someone to help him into the pool, but Jesus had provided so much more.
Overjoyed, confident, and strong, the man picks up his mat and for the first time in more years than he can remember, he walks! (Although personally, I think he may have skipped a little too!)
The Infirmed Man’s story was one of disability, but God’s provision was one of strength.
Join me tomorrow for a story involving a report of bad news, a poultice of figs, and a provision of deferment!
If you’ve missed any part of this series, you can find all of the posts in the side bar category 31 Days of God’s Provision.
On the journey toward Home,