One man was there who had been an invalid for 38 years.... He said to him, "Do you want to be healed?" (John 5:5, 6b)
Read John 5:1-17
Jesus came to the pool of Bethesda, where there were crowds of sick people lying by the pool. Legend said an angel came down and stirred the pool's water once in a while. The people believed that the first person to get to the pool after that would be healed. And so everyone lay there, day after day, watching the water to see if it would move. One man had been there 38 years!
Jesus spoke to him: "Do you want to be healed?"
On the surface, this sounds like a foolish question. Of course the man wanted to be healed! Why else would He come to Bethesda? And yet, maybe not. People can get comfortable in their misfortune. Health is a mixed blessing to someone who only knows how to be ill.
Perhaps the man thought it was a foolish question, too. Who knows? At any rate, the man didn't answer Jesus. Instead, he complained. He couldn't get into the pool fast enough -- someone else always got there first. That's why he could never get well. Or so he thought.
Jesus cut through all that nonsense. "Get up," He said. "Take up your bed, and walk."
Much to his surprise, the man did! He got up and found himself completely healed. The pool was unnecessary. The Son of God, Jesus, had made him well.
We are like that man, too, aren't we? When we fall into sickness or trouble, we seek the best help we can find. We turn to doctors or lawyers or social workers or experts -- anybody who can offer us a gleam of hope in our trouble. And we are right to do it. God has given us these good gifts for our protection and help.
But we are even wiser when we turn to Jesus, our Savior, and ask Him to help us. He is the giver of all good things; He is our Creator and our Redeemer. He willingly chose to suffer and die for you on the cross. Now, as our risen Lord, absolutely He will care for you now, in your need.
THE PRAYER: Lord Jesus, You know my trouble. Please help me however You see best. Amen.
Have there ever been times when you didn't really want God to make your situation better? Why?
Share a time when God knew what was best for you and gave it to you, regardless of your own wishes in the matter.
The man who was healed was surrounded by many other sick people, and as far as we can tell, Jesus did not heal them that day. When you are the one who does not receive the help you pray for, how do you cope with God's refusal?
Author Dr. Kari Vo serves as theological writer for Lutheran Hour Ministries. She holds a doctorate in English (Renaissance period) from St. Louis University and has worked in writing and publishing for 30 years. She has published several books and written dozens of articles. Originally from California, she and her family are missionaries to the Vietnamese immigrants in the St. Louis area.
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