A Bible study through John 1-6
Life can become routine and habitual. It’s so easy to get stuck in the same old rut and lose sight of the miracle-working power of our Savior. We can easily become entangled in works-based religion or tradition and forget to walk in the grace and mercy Jesus died to give us.
John 5 opens with a powerful story of a man who was stuck in a life rut and was blind to the potential of what Jesus could do for him. After spending 38 years as a cripple waiting to be healed through the tradition and myths of the time, this man had no idea what was possible when Jesus walked up to him that day. This is his miracle story, when God chose him out of all the other invalids lying around that day to receive the life-giving words: “Get up and walk.”
“After this there was a feast of the Jews, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. Now there is in Jerusalem by the Sheep Gate a pool, in Aramaic called Bethesda, which has five roofed colonnades. In these lay a multitude of invalids—blind, lame, and paralyzed. One man was there who had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. 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?’ 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.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Get up, take up your bed, and walk.’ And at once the man was healed, and he took up his bed and walked.”
The man at the pool was stuck in tradition and religious superstition. The belief was that an angel occasionally stirred the water at the pool of Bethesda and whoever could enter the water first when it was stirred up would be healed. So this man spent 38 years beside the pool hoping for a miracle. But his hopes were in vain. He was alone with no one to help him into the water, and with his disability, he was unable to get down to the water before others. So almost four decades later, he was still lying beside the pool, waiting for healing.
But in an instant, everything changed. With no preamble and no questions regarding faith or belief, Jesus instantly healed this man. The conversation went from “why are you lying here” and “do you want healing,” to a simple command: “get up and walk.” Jesus freely gave this gift of healing to the crippled man. There were no prerequisites that the man had to meet, doctrines he needed to correctly believe, or even faith to believe Jesus could heal before the miracle. Rather, Jesus simply gave this priceless gift and then walked away.
But the miracle did require the lame man to test the words of Jesus. He had to actually get up and try standing on his own two feet. He needed to obey the command to get up and walk. And he did.
After spending 38 years pinning his hopes on an unattainable cure, the lame man received the miracle he was hoping for in one second. In one moment, his world was completely turned upside down. At the words of Jesus, his life was altered, and he walked away from the place of dashed dreams, painful years, feelings of rejection, moments of depression and despair, and brokenness to a new life.
So what does this story teach us? What can we learn from the healing of the lame man at the pool of Bethesda?
Jesus wants to set us free from the shackles of tradition and religious superstition. He wants to give us healing and wholeness. And as the case with this man, the path to healing is found in following Jesus’ simple command: get up and walk.
Get up and walk out of the shame that has held you captive for far too long. Get up and walk away from the legalism that has you shackled to your sin. Get up and walk free of your past and the condemnation Satan is trying to burden you with. Get up and walk from the habitual sins that are weighing you down.
Get up and walk forward into the grace and power available in Jesus. He came to redeem and set the captives free. And just as He interrupted the lame man’s day and unexpectedly gave him one of the greatest gifts possible, Jesus sometimes interrupts our day to pour blessing into our lives even when we’re not looking for or specifically requesting it. He knows what we need before we even think to ask, and sometimes provides answers to those needs before we are even aware of them.
The lame man at the pool of Bethesda would never have dreamt that Jesus could and would heal him. However, when he heard the command he had enough faith to test it and thereby walked into a brand new life. Are we willing to test the promises and commands of God? Are we willing to walk forward into the gifts Jesus has freely given us and experience the healing, restoration, and wholeness He died to give us?
May we learn from this crippled man and follow Jesus’ command to get up and walk forward into the abundant, new life Jesus came into the world to give.