…and the truth will set you free
Days run together this time of year, when the celebration of the birth of our Savior is sometimes overshadowed by parties, and “holiday” symphonies, and other activities that would separate us from God’s Word. Indeed, it has been five days since I have actively entered into a study of the Word. Oh, I read the Word, doing the initial preparation yesterday for teaching this coming Sunday, but I have not actually studied the Word in about a week. And I know better!
The Healing at the Pool
1Some time later, Jesus went up to Jerusalem for a feast of the Jews. 2Now there is in Jerusalem near the Sheep Gate a pool, which in Aramaic is called Bethesda[a] and which is surrounded by five covered colonnades. 3Here a great number of disabled people used to lie—the blind, the lame, the paralyzed.[b] 5One who was there had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. 6When 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.”
8Then Jesus said to him, “Get up! Pick up your mat and walk.” 9At once the man was cured; he picked up his mat and walked.
The day on which this took place was a Sabbath, 10and so the Jews said to the man who had been healed, “It is the Sabbath; the law forbids you to carry your mat.”
11But he replied, “The man who made me well said to me, ‘Pick up your mat and walk.’ “
12So they asked him, “Who is this fellow who told you to pick it up and walk?”
13The man who was healed had no idea who it was, for Jesus had slipped away into the crowd that was there.
14Later Jesus found him at the temple and said to him, “See, you are well again. Stop sinning or something worse may happen to you.” 15The man went away and told the Jews that it was Jesus who had made him well.
Can you even begin to imagine what it would be like to be an invalid for 38 years? My mother-in-law wore an ileostomy bag for 38 years. I have known people since then who had to wear a bag for 6 months following surgery, and it was almost more than they could tolerate. Thirty-eight years of being an invalid. How could anyone after that length of time hold out any hope for the future?
The invalid in this scripture had clearly lost hope that he could enter the waters and be healed, for others always made it into the water before him. Yet, he continued to come to the pool each day, seeking his miracle. And his miracle appeared in the form of a man named Jesus. When Jesus inquired as to his health, the man said I have no one to help me into the pool, and Jesus replied, take up your mat and walk, for you are healed. There was no need of the healing waters in the pool of Bethesda, for the great Healer was present.
The pool of Bethesda was near the Sheep Market Gate and the waters were said to be stirred by an angel. When the waters stirred, people entered the pool to receive their healing. In Hebrew, Bethesda means “House of Mercy” and in Greek it means “House of Grace.” Either way, Bethesda was a place of hope, a place of healing, a place of grace.
The next important fact in this scripture is that the city officials were unconcerned about the healing of the invalid–instead, they were offended that the man picked up his mat on the Sabbath, an action prohibited under the Law. Oh ye of little faith–what Jesus says is healed, is healed–what Jesus says is good, is good. If Jesus healed on the Sabbath, that pretty much ends the discussion of what can be done on the Sabbath and what is prohibited.
Can you see beyond the Law into the House of Grace? If not, go to your Lord in prayer today and ask that He fill you with a spirit of grace and mercy.
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