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. 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?” “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.” Then Jesus said to him, “Get up! Pick up your mat and walk.” At once the man was cured; he picked up his mat and walked.
The first two signs we looked at this week occurred in Galilee. Now Jesus travels to Jerusalem, where he encounters this invalid man (“invalid” could mean he was lame, or paralyzed, or disabled). We might wonder at Jesus’ question to the man; duh, we might think, of course I want to get well. But perhaps Jesus saw, or was questioning, whether the man had actually given up on any hope of healing after thirty-eight years. The man’s reply shows the common belief of those who were lying near the pool, that the first one in after the water bubbled would be healed. And since the man had no one to help him into the pool, he was doomed to lie there day after day, year after year.
Jesus, however, doesn’t help him into the pool; Jesus doesn’t need the pool to heal him. He tells this man who cannot walk to get up and walk. And immediately he is healed! He gets up and walks! Although the Bible doesn’t tell us this, I would imagine that those who witnessed this interaction might have been thinking, forget the pool, I need this man Jesus.
And isn’t that exactly the point? We are all invalids, disabled by sin, unable to save ourselves, hoping for some miracle cure. But as Jesus showed by giving physical healing to the invalid man, only he can give spiritual life and healing. As he explains to the Jews after this incident, “For as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, so also the Son gives life to whom he will.” (John 5:21)
Are you trusting in Jesus alone, for life, now and forever? Have you responded to him in repentance and faith? I pray that you have. I pray that all who read these devotionals are trusting in Jesus alone for salvation.
The great Physician now is near,
The sympathizing Jesus;
He speaks the drooping heart to cheer,
Oh! Hear the voice of Jesus. (William Hunter)