“Do you want to get well?”
Do you? The pool of Bethesda was well-known for its healing properties. Supposedly the water would bubble up periodically and the first person to enter the pool when that happened would be healed. Or so went the legend. The pool attracted a lot of people who were sick or somehow disabled. The man in John 5 was an invalid and had been by the pool for 38 years. So when Jesus saw the man, why was this the first thing that Jesus said to him? Surely, not because Jesus could not see that the man was an invalid. Just laying by a pool for 38 years might be enough to make an otherwise healthy person too weak to walk. At the end of the story, we discover that the man was an invalid because of his sin – his own action or inaction. Jesus was not saying that sin is always the cause of illness, but he seems to be saying that sometimes it is.
Do our own actions or inactions sometimes make us sick – physically, emotionally, spiritually? When asked if he wanted to get well, the man did not answer Jesus’ question. Instead, he provided a list of reasons why he had been by the pool all those years. Do we ever make excuses instead of taking action that would bring healing and wholeness to our lives?
What’s amazing about this story is that Jesus did not do anything out of the ordinary. All Jesus said was “get up”. You know someone, don’t you, who is sick and could be well if only he or she would do something. But what about you? The observers in this story were the Jewish leaders who had passed this man for 38 years and probably shook their heads at his inability or unwillingness to get up. After a while everyone in this story got used to way it was. The man was the sick man by the pool who complained but never did anything. The Jewish leaders saw that it was that man’s problem and if he had been by the pool for 38 years, he would probably always be by the pool. We just get used to the way things are even when those ways are not life-giving or life-affirming. So, do you want to get well?
Today, I hear the words from Jesus: “Get up!”
Today’s readings: Nahum 1-3; John 5