The Healing at the Pool
1 Some time later, Jesus went up to Jerusalem for a feast of the Jews. 2 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. 3 Here a great number of disabled people used to lie—the blind, the lame, the paralyzed. 5 One who was there had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. 6 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?” 7 “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.” 8 Then Jesus said to him, “Get up! Pick up your mat and walk.” 9 At once the man was cured; he picked up his mat and walked.
Something felt different that day to the paralytic man, some whisper of hope seemed to be stirring on the breeze, rumors of a healer that was passing through. But then, being in his condition for 38 years hope for a healing had long vanished. Too many dreams dashed. Too many crushing disappointments. What a desolate place it was, except for the occasional stirring of the waters. He wasn’t used to this feeling of hope, being much more used to steeling himself against it. He drifted back through the years of lying there, the oppressive heat, the desperate longing to reach the water, sounds of sheep being led out to pasture, the groaning of his suffering companions, the only companions he had now since his family stopped coming. He drifted off to the sound of crowds in the distance, seeming closer now than before. Now it seemed they were surrounding him; was he dreaming or were they real? He surmised that it might be the usual good samaritans wanting to demonstrate their charity to the pitiful sick. He wished they would go away…where were they when he had wanted all those times to reach the cool healing water? He felt a shadow cross his face. He looked up into the most compassionate eyes he had ever seen, and they stabbed at his heart. “Do you want to get well?” The man suddenly knew that this man must be the healer that everyone had been talking about. Who else could have a gaze like this that reached into the very soul? He knew that the question was not just about healing, but something that would affect his life even beyond physical healing, if that were possible. Was he ready to enter into life again? Ready to do whatever it meant to be healed, be whole? To have hope again?
Are we ready? Like the paralytic man at the pool, we have all had dreams dashed, hopes crushed, but take heart. The healer is passing by, “Are you ready to get well?”