John 5 : 1-18
Have you ever been really sick or injured? I don’t mean having the sniffles or you stubbed your toe on the corner of the island in your kitchen (which I am famous for). I’m talking a sickness or injury where you are at the mercy of someone else’s help or healing. Our passage today is exactly that and, hopefully to no surprise, Jesus is the ultimate Healer in the story.
But before we cover what happens to the invalid man in John 5, the example I thought of when thinking of the “sickest” I have ever been or the most pain I’ve ever suffered was when I came down with mono a couple summers ago.
Like I do every year when the weather gets warm, I was training for my favorite 8K in my hometown and was feeling pretty good about this year. On race day I was watching the CrossFit Games (which always gets me pumped up to do something active) and I watched them the entire day until it was time to head to the start line. If you know me at all you know I don’t do TV. I pay for cable each month but I cannot tell you the last time I turned it on. It’s just typically not the first thing I turn to when I get bored; I would rather be outside or reading a book or spending time with someone. But for whatever reason, Rich Froning (CrossFit athlete) was really drawing me in that day and I watched it from the time I got up until 5 or 6 PM when I began getting ready to race.
I noticed that I was fatigued but I blamed it on having a really busy week. So about 8 PM my dad and I headed to the race and I had a great run until I got to the finish line. I remember running through the chute and feeling like my legs might collapse under me if I didn’t immediately sit down. I got lightheaded but got some Gatorade in my system and chalked it up to just having a “hard run”.
The next morning I woke up with blisters all over my throat and was so tired that getting out of bed was difficult. Almost instantaneously I knew; I had mono. So the doctor confirmed with a blood draw that indeed I had somehow caught it. What was so defeating in the 3-4 weeks after that was that there was no healing by means of modern medicine or home remedy. Google “how to get rid of mono” and about all you will find is advice to get rest, drink water and eat healthy. These are all things we should be doing already.
In the scheme of what most people face in life, mono is nothing and I realize that. But what was so difficult to me during that time was that there was no reprieve from the fatigue or pain. I had no hope of getting better apart from resting and getting the nutrients I needed while letting mono take its course.
This brings me to John 5. Jesus was at a pool in Jerusalem (in Hebrew this was called Bethesda). The pool had 5 alcoves and there were hundreds of sick people there. One man in particular is who we’re shining the light on today. This man, though we do not know his name, had been invalid for 38 years. Can you imagine that? I would have to live half my lifetime over again to even be alive as long as he had been battling this disease.
Jesus found out how long the man’s battle had been and decided to step in. In verse 6 Jesus asked him if he wanted to be healed. At this point I would imagine the man probably thinks all hope is gone. I would! The man goes on to say in verse 7, “Sir, I have no one to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up, and while I am going another steps down before me.” (John 5:7, ESV)
Jesus, with no hesitation, thought, or pondering says, “Get up, take your bed, and walk.”
The man had no hope. For 38 years he had been battling an illness with no help and no end in sight. He had no hope until Hope itself stepped in.
What was unique about this day was that it fell on a Sabbath and the Jews started telling the man that he could not pick up his bed because of what day it was. His response was something like, “Guys, this man, he told me so. He healed me when I had no hope and when no one would even help me into the pool so I think I better listen!”
Jesus found the man again and told him who he was in verse 14. When the man told the Jews they began persecuting Jesus because he was doing these “things”, or miracles, on the Sabbath. Jesus’ answer is what amazes me. I love the way The Message paraphrase states it. “My Father is working straight through, even on the Sabbath. So am I.”
Wow. What a reminder. Many times in life apart from the one true God we have no hope. Sickness, injury, a wayward spouse or child, financial stress – you name it. But when all hope seems lost, the God of all hope knows exactly what we need.
What are you praying for healing from today? What pain, thought or injury has you crippled mentally or physically in to want to stay in your own bed?
From the beginning of time until we are far into eternity, God is able. His Father is working straight through, even on the Sabbath. (vs. 17) 365 days a year. 24 hours every day. 7 days per week.