Holy Land Dispatch - Day Eight: "Bethesda"
The Pool of Bethesda is among the many sites that our Holy Land pilgrims will visit today.
There is this story in the Gospel of John chapter 5 of how Jesus healed a man who could not even pick himself up off of the floor. The man was lying beside the Pool of Bethesda in Jerusalem, along with a lot of other people who needed healing.
There was a superstition that after the waters of the pool were "troubled," the first person in the pool would be healed. So day after day all of these sick people would gather at the pool and wait. This man probably was brought to the pool because he couldn't walk or get up on his own.
6 When Jesus saw him lying there and knew that he had already been there a long time, he said to him, “Do you want to be healed?”
That's a powerful question. Lots of us say that we want to live differently. We say that we are willing to do whatever it takes to be filled with joy, hope, and purpose. We say that we want to live abundant, Resurrection lives.
But when it comes to time to take that first step, to do what we need to do in order to actually make what we are saying a reality... that's when many of us falter. We start making excuses for why we're not stepping forward:
"I'll go all in with Jesus when I get my life together," or "I don't think I am good enough to really make this happen," or worse yet, "I've made too many mistakes to deserve this..."
The way we answer the question that Jesus posed to the man by the pool will make all the difference in where we go next.
7 The sick man answered him, “Sir, I have no one to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up, and while I am going another steps down before me.”
The first words out of this guy's mouth were probably the words he used every single day when he begged for alms from the people who went to the pool to get water. They also didn't answer the question Jesus asked him.
I like to imagine Jesus staring at this guy with a piercing gaze before telling him, "Get up. Take up your bed and walk." He doesn't say, "Let me give you a hand." He doesn't tell the guy, "Lean on me, when you're not strong..." Nope. Jesus tells a guy who hasn't walked in almost four decades to get up.
And the guy does what Jesus said. He gets up and walks away for the first time in nearly 40 years. He walks away from his past. He walks away from the excuses, from everything that had kept him from truly living.
May you answer Jesus' question, "Do you want to get well?" by getting up and walking away from everything that has kept you from living a Resurrection life. May you embrace the joy of that first step, knowing that there will be many more joyous steps to follow.
And may the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you now and always. Amen.