By Judy Villanueva
Now there is in Jerusalem near the Sheep Gate a pool, which in Aramaic is called Bethesda and which is surrounded by five covered colonnades. 3 Here a great number of disabled people used to lie—the blind, the lame, the paralyzed. 5 One who was there had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. 6 When 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.”
8 Then Jesus said to him, “Get up! Pick up your mat and walk.” 9 At once the man was cured; he picked up his mat and walked. (John 5:5-8)
I looked at the sun hoping it would help me figure out where on earth I was! No luck! There were no mountains to mark north like back home and no cell phone to offer me a map. I turned around to find my three young children staring at me, their fearless leader, with such trusting faces. “It’s ok, mom! We’ll find our way back to the cabin.” Little did they know their mom was seriously direction-challenged, and while we were no more than a quarter mile from our destination I could not discern the way. So close to home, but lost! When I read about the invalid man who put his hope for healing in a pool of water I feel curious and decide to look more closely. The first thing I notice is that the man isn’t looking to Jesus for healing, nor does he appear to have much, if any, awareness of who is engaging him. He doesn’t get it and for some reason, this feels strangely consoling!
So often I feel like I must “get it right” to be effective in prayer. I must say the right thing, at the right time, and in the right way. I must pray the will of God, in faith, believing! Can you relate? Prayer becomes a formula that, if all the variables are plugged in correctly, will equal the answer I seek.
What I love about the encounter at Bethesda is that it breaks all the “get it right” rules and defies formulas.
The invalid doesn’t ask Jesus for anything, and when asked if he wants to be well, doesn’t actually say “yes!” Instead, he complains and explains his helpless plight to God, the God who saw him lying there and drew near to do what the pool could not. “Get up!” Jesus says, and he does.
Can you feel the shift from getting it right and praying perfect prayers to the splendid truth that God IS intimately aware of us and always FAITHFUL.
Even when we are unaware, Jesus sees us lying in our places of need and asks, “Do you want to be well?” The question takes sharp aim at pools that cannot bring us life or healing — people pools, financial pools, performance pools, and other pools that stir up false hope, but cannot command us to get up! I don’t want to be close to home and lost. I want to walk! I love that the man by the pool didn’t get it and am so blessed to watch the love of Christ find him and heal him and set him on his feet because, truth is — I am direction-challenged and need to be found by Jesus!
“Thank you, Jesus, for seeing me all the time. I am grateful and relieved that I don’t have to figure out the perfect prayer, or even, how to get home. Help me to put all my hopes in your faithful heart. Amen.”
What about you?
What are your places of need today?
Do you want to be well?
Where are you putting your hopes? In what pools are you trusting?
Do you feel lost?
Jesus sees you and cares about your life.