Thoughts on today’s Moravian Text
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?”
This always strikes me as such an odd scene. Throngs of afflicted people gather around the pool of Bethseda because legend held that an angel would come and stir up the waters and give them healing powers. When this happened there was apparently a mad dash into the pool (a la “last one in’s a rotten egg!) to receive the healing and those unfortunate enough not to have friends to help them into the water got left out of the healing.
I can find no record of how often the waters were actually “stirred” or if anyone actually ever got healed but what it does show us is that these were desperate people looking for answers and that they had put their trust in this pool. It also appears that a little community that grew up around that pool. They were the people by the pool that was who they were. They were the poor, sickly, “pool people”.
Then along comes Jesus and asks what, on the surface, seems like an absurd question. He asks this man who has been sick for 38 years if he would like to get well. WHY WOULD HE EVEN ASK SUCH A QUESTION? Isn’t it obvious? I’m here at the pool, aren’t I?
Yet the answer isn’t so obvious. Sometimes when we are sick or afflicted with something so long that, even though we hate it, it becomes a part of our identity. The man’s response is revealing too. Jesus, the Healer, asks if he wants healing, and the man, looking past Jesus, says, “Well, I can’t get healed, ’cause I can’t get in the pool!” His trust is still in the pool!
It happens subtly, but sickness and other afflictions mess up our identity and our priorities.
We start to believe the lies about us, “I’m just a ‘pool person’, this is my lot in life” (whatever pool person is in your context) and to trust in things – a paycheck, a relationship, an event – rather than in the One who can heal everything in our lives.
Jesus knows that healing can be a scary thing because it affects our identity.
So Jesus when asks this man, He asks you and me too, “Would you like to get well? REALLY get well?”
Our answers might surprise us.