Near the Sheep Gate in Jerusalem there was a pool, in Hebrew called Bethesda, with five alcoves. Hundreds of sick people—blind, crippled, paralyzed—were in these alcoves. One man had been an invalid there for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him stretched out by the pool and knew how long he had been there, he said, “Do you want to get well?”
The sick man said, “Sir, when the water is stirred, I don’t have anybody to put me in the pool. By the time I get there, somebody else is already in.”
Jesus said, “Get up, take your bedroll, start walking.” The man was healed on the spot. He picked up his bedroll and walked off.
So thinking about this right. Just thinking. Don’t feel the need to build a church round it or anything. For thirty-eight years you live paralyzed in this horrible place, surrounded by filth, sickness, moans and groans. You are alone, no-one to support you. You see your whole life ebbing away and there seems to be nothing you can do. You are tantalisingly close to the solution. If someone would just give you a hand into the pool. The pool is where it’s at. You can almost touch the pool – only almost. Then you see Jesus. Jesus with his international galactic eye for the lost and the hopeless has zoomed in on you. Jesus knows what you need. He’ll give you a leg up into the pool.
As usual, he doesn’t do what you want straight away. He has a question. He asks if you want to get well. Well duh! But the question has focused your mind. Do you really want to see the change? How much? Your mind goes back to the pool. To the thing that you think will rescue you. You explain the situation. Tell him about the thirty eight years and how alone you are. But he doesn’t give you a leg up. At least not one that you can see. And he doesn’t seem that bothered with the pool. Doesn’t he know about the pool? You thought everyone knew about the pool. Jesus says, you do it. Do it. You. No pool. So what are you going to do now? Get all upset about the lack of your special pool-shaped solution? Thirty eight years you have been going through this. Haven’t you earned the pool?Or you could just do as he asks. Take a chance. So you respond. You DO something. And Jesus responds and you get up. You find you can. You couldn’t before but now you can.
How much of it is up to us? To DO something. To respond the way Jesus asks rather than the way we have decided will make things right. Is something new needed? How much do we really want it? Like I said, just thinking.