The pool called Bethesda in Jerusalem attracted many crippled and sick people. They traveled there with the hope of benefiting from this pool’s supposed healing powers. John 5, which we studied on Sunday, tells us the story of a man who had spent thirty-eight years of his life crippled. Knowing about Bethesda’s healing powers; he went there with the hope of being healed. But that hope was never realized. Sadly, this man had no one to help him into the pool at the right time and he couldn’t do it fast enough on his own. So how long had he spent beside this pool being frustrated? Had it been months? Years? How many opportunities had come and gone? How many other invalids had arrived and soon left healed? What type of disappointment and depression had to develop inside a person who had experienced all of this? In this place, filled with people with tragic stories, this man’s had to have been among the saddest. So, when Jesus visited Bethesda, who was it that he went to? This man. Jesus went to the man who had been an invalid for thirty-eight years and did not have anyone who cared for him enough to help him get healed. Jesus’ heart seemed to lead him to the most helpless of the helpless.
As we studied this story on Sunday, I felt myself relax in a way that I hadn’t all week. So much of my week is spent trying to prove myself. I have a tendency to use each work shift to prove my worth. Every bible study is another chance to assert my holiness. Every checkmark on my to-do list is affirmation that I have it all together. This wears me out after awhile because inevitably it’s revealed that I’m not as hard working as I should be; I’m not as holy as I should be; I do not have it all together. Jesus provides relief though. When I see his compassion toward this man and that he came to help the helpless, I realize that all of my efforts to prop myself up are unnecessary. Instead, Jesus frees me to admit my badness. I can admit that, just like Ephesians 2 says, I am not just sick – I am dead! So while I may not be crippled the way the man in John 5:5 is, I am equally in need of the life that, over and over in the Gospel of John, Jesus says he has come to give.