1 Afterward Jesus returned to Jerusalem for one of the Jewish holy days. 2 Inside the city, near the Sheep Gate, was the pool of Bethesda, with five covered porches. 3 Crowds of sick people—blind, lame, or paralyzed—lay on the porches. 5 One of the men lying there had been sick for thirty-eight years. 6 When Jesus saw him and knew he had been ill for a long time, he asked him, “Would you like to get well?”
7 “I can’t, sir,” the sick man said, “for I have no one to put me into the pool when the water bubbles up. Someone else always gets there ahead of me.”
8 Jesus told him, “Stand up, pick up your mat, and walk!”- Jn 5
Imagine a group of sick and crippled people that came to the pool everyday. They all hoped to be healed. Or maybe initially they all hoped to be healed. Over time, some interesting things probably happened:
1. They would develop a community with the other sick and crippled people. Misery loves company. They would speak with each other about their sickness. They would talk together, maybe even laugh together. Even though it was supposed to be a gathering of people waiting on a miracle, it became a gathering of people just waiting. Maybe some days they forgot what they were waiting for. Maybe some of them didn’t really want to be healed because it meant that they would leave the family.
2. Their identity might have been wrapped up in their sickness. I’ve seen it a hundred times. People introduce themselves to me and then tell me their problems like their ailment is their middle name.
Jesus asks “Do you want to get well?” Do you really want to leave your friends? Do you really want to break your identity from your surroundings? Do you really want your life to change – or do you want to hang out with your comfortable sick friends?
Do you want your world radically changed? Do you want to break from the culture of sickness that you are living in? Do you want to leave the porch of sickness that has become your home. Do you really – I mean really want to get well? Really?
Then bid your sick friends goodbye, stand up, pick up your mat, and walk.
picture by Leonoid Mamchenkov