There was a feast of the Jews, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. Now there is in Jerusalem at the Sheep Gate a pool called in Hebrew Bethesda, with five porticoes. In these lay a large number of ill, blind, lame, and crippled. One man was there who had been ill for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him lying there and knew that he had been ill for a long time, he said to him, “Do you want to be well?” The sick man answered him, “Sir, I have no one to put me into the pool…”
Ill for thirty-eight years? How is it possible that no one would help him? There is only one explanation. This man must have been evil.
The older we get, the feebler we get. The feebler we get, the more dependent we are. It can feel very lonely getting old, even with all the money in the world.
Not too long ago I went to Foca de Chao for lunch. This is a very fancy-dancy restaurant. They have an incredible salad bar there and you can have all the meat you can eat. I almost never go there, but with a gift card in hand I invited a friend.
While we were eating, we could not but overhear (yes, sorry!) a conversation at a table next to us. Sitting near to us was an elderly woman and two young men. Both men were very well dressed. Both men appeared to be investors. Both men appeared to be interested in “securing” this elderly woman’s future. Both men had done their research. They knew she was Catholic, for they began to strike up a conversation with her about the Papal conclave. Both men knew she was interested in traveling for they asked her what her favorite places to visit were. Both men knew she had lots of money because both asked what she would like to do with it once she was gone. At the end of the meal, she paid the bill.
I felt fearful for this woman. It seemed like no family members were at the table. It seemed like no friends were present during the discussion. Why? Only God knows.
I have no one to help me. This man must have been very strong in his youth; maybe even power driven to make a name for himself and ambitious in his personal goals. I wouldn’t be surprised if he stepped over a lot of people during his wild days and left a few dead bodies along the way.
Now, he was the victim. Help was no were to be found. Family and friends were not “just around the corner.” How could no one help this man? How could he be alone in a sea of humanity? Thousands of people frequented the temple. Hundreds were to be found at the Sheep Gate. There were a large number of ill, blind, lame, and crippled people present. All of them were receiving attention. All were being guided to a pool known for its miraculous healing. Everyone was receiving, except this man.
What did he do to deserve such treatment?
In early days did he put his skills to work and trust only in himself? Did he invest only in himself? Was he a risk taker? Did he bet only on this life and nothing else? Did he take advantage of his poor and/or elderly clients? Did his work ethic tear the conscience out of his peers? Did he diminish the importance of family so as to climb the ladder of status? What did this poor soul do?
Well, he definitely didn’t foresee the possibility of misfortune. He definitely didn’t see himself going broke. After all, he knew it all, right? He thought he was well, not sick. He thought he was living it up, not throwing up. He thought he was living all that life could bring. He never dreamed of being wrong. Who needs God when I can explain it all myself!
Jesus saw him lying there and said to him, “Do you want to be well?” When our Lord came up to this man, he could have laughed at him, toyed with him and condemned him. But instead, he healed him and saved him. We do not easily find this kind of love anywhere in our “tolerant” society: not in social media, not in multimedia, not in our secular press or institutions.
The Lord helped his man because no one else would. He healed him because no one else could. Jesus was this man’s last hope, and it turned out to be his best hope. What did he do to deserve such treatment? Nothing, except answer His question.
Do you want to be well? If so, then let us learn from this man and from the Lord, who went out of his way to treat this man, this sinner, with respect and love, and at the expense of his own reputation and life.
Do to others what God would do to you.
Resolution: I want to be well, Lord. Forgive me of all my trespasses.