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?” John 5:2-6 (NIV)
What an unusual question to ask a man who had been unable to walk for 38 years. It almost seems cruel, doesn’t it?
Do you want to get well?
I wonder how it must have made him feel to be asked such a question. You would think his response would be, “Of course I want to be made well!” But, rather than responding with an obvious and enthusiastic Yes!, this man began to make excuses as to why he remained in such a sad condition. It’s almost as if his will had become as paralyzed as his body. As you reflect on this miracle in the context of the story, you see another sad reflection of our human condition. How often has Jesus reached out to you, only to hear an excuse as to why you never change? The man had a good excuse. He said,
Sir, 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.
The belief in that day was that that an angel would come from time to time and stir the waters. When the waters of the pool were stirred, the first person to get into the water would be healed of whatever disease he had. How could this man ever possibly beat someone else into the waters? All the man could see for 38 years was the impossibility of his condition, and he had resigned himself to remain just as he was – unchanged. Have you also given up on the possibility of changing? How did Jesus respond to the man’s excuse? Jesus told him,
Stand up, pick up your mat, and walk! (Vs. 8)
Jesus healed the man through His spoken word. He told the man to do the very thing he had been unable to do; but, in His command was the power to do it! In Hebrews 4:12 the Bible says,
For whatever God says to us is full of living power….
It was the power of Jesus’ word that enabled this man to change. John tells us that the man was instantly healed.
He rolled up his sleeping mat and began walking!
The word of God has the power to change lives today. His word can change your life as well. There was a much deeper change needed in this man, though, as there is in your life and mine. The man did not realize who it was that had spoken to him and healed him until later. Jesus had disappeared in the crowd. A while later, Jesus found him in the Temple and told him,
Stop sinning or something even worse may happen to you.
This suggests to me that this man’s plight may have been the result of some bad decisions or sin on his part, but there is no record that the man sought forgiveness as had others that Jesus healed. How tragic to be that close to Christ, even experience a miracle, and yet remain unsaved. Miracles don’t produce faith. The greatest change in our lives happens in our hearts. It’s there where we need our greatest healing.
The miracle you need most leads you to what you really need most – a deeper relationship with God. Have you stopped short of experiencing the greatest miracle of all?