Jesus Heals a Sick Man
1Later, Jesus went to Jerusalem for another Jewish festival. 2In the city near the sheep gate was a pool with five porches, and its name in Hebrew was Bethzatha.
3-4Many sick, blind, lame, and paralyzed people were lying close to the pool.
5Beside the pool was a man who had been sick for 38 years. 6When Jesus saw the man and realized that he had been crippled for a long time, he asked him, “Do you want to be healed?”
7The man answered, “Sir, I don't have anyone to put me in the pool when the water is stirred up. I try to get in, but someone else always gets there first.”
8Jesus told him, “Pick up your mat and walk!” 9Right then the man was healed. He picked up his mat and started walking around. The day on which this happened was a Sabbath.
10 When the Jewish leaders saw the man carrying his mat, they said to him, “This is the Sabbath! No one is allowed to carry a mat on the Sabbath.”
11But he replied, “The man who healed me told me to pick up my mat and walk.”
12They asked him, “Who is this man that told you to pick up your mat and walk?” 13But he did not know who Jesus was, and Jesus had left because of the crowd.
14Later, Jesus met the man in the temple and told him, “You are now well. But don't sin anymore or something worse might happen to you.” 15The man left and told the leaders that Jesus was the one who had healed him.
“Do you want to be healed?” The first time I read this passage I thought what a dumb question! Was Jesus being dense? Of course he wants to be healed! He has been sick for thirty-eight years, beside a pool believed to heal anyone who can be the first to enter it after the waters move. Why would he be there if he didn’t want to be healed? What a strange question. So often when we cry out to God and are denied, we complain, like the man in the story did. But, how often do we cry out to God for something and then when we get it, we find it wasn’t what we thought it would be? The man in this story gets what he wants, he is healed, but in doing so he finds himself accused of breaking the Sabbath law, and in trouble with the religious leaders. In trouble he blames Jesus: “the man who healed me told me to . . .”
We are so confident that we know what is best that we not only ask God for what we want but are indignant or angry when we don’t get it. “This isn’t fair!” we say, “other people get their prayers answered in the very ways they ask. Why not me?” How hard it is to trust God who not only wants but knows what is best for us. Learning to trust God for whatever comes our way is one of the ongoing challenges of following Jesus.
Gracious God, help me to recognize that you not only want but know what is best for me. Give me the strength to trust you even in the face of disappointment or the unexpected, through the power of your Spirit in the name of your Son. Amen.