Waiting by the Waters
5 Some time later, Jesus went up to Jerusalem for one of the Jewish festivals. 2 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 paralysed. 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 man 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 5:1–9
Last week we were able to take the girls to Nairn for another sea-side adventure. Nairn has long been a popular tourist town and has much to offer, but the best thing by far is the beach. People have travelled far and wide for a long time to visit Nairn beach, the Victorians in particular would flock there because it was said that the Nairn sea waters at certain times of year contained healing and restorative powers. Horses would draw carriages into the water so that Victorians could step right into the sea without people seeing them in their bathing suits! I’m sure the water would have been invigorating but I suspect that this, in reality, is about all!
The paralysed man in John 5 had been waiting by the waters near the Sheep Gate in the hope of healing. It was said that when the waters were stirred, the first person in would be healed. We can only imagine the number of disappointments he endured in those long years. That said, it was never really the waters he needed, it was always Jesus. And eventually the day came where he met the Lord. Jesus asks him if he wants to get well. It may seem a strange question, but we can all become comfortable with life as it is, the sad reality is that some people don’t want change, even if it would be change for the better.
He assured Jesus that he wanted healing, but never managed to get to the waters in time. Maybe he hoped that Jesus would help him in. But Jesus doesn’t just offer to help the man into the waters. He commands the man to stand and walk. And the man trusts and obeys, he stands and walks into a whole new life.
JC Ryle says of this passage:
“how great is the mercy and compassion of Christ. He “saw” the poor sufferer lying in the crowd. Neglected, overlooked, and forgotten in the great multitude, he was observed by the all-seeing eye of Christ. “He knew” full well, by His Divine knowledge, how long he had been “in that case,” and pitied him. He spoke to him unexpectedly, with words of gracious sympathy. He healed him by miraculous power, at once and without tedious delay, and sent him home rejoicing.
This is just one among many examples of our Lord Jesus Christ’s kindness and compassion. He is full of undeserved, unexpected, abounding love towards man. “He delights in mercy.” (Micah 7:18.) He is far more ready to save than man is to be saved, far more willing to do good than man is to receive it.”
It’s easy in these days of isolation and social distancing to feel that no one sees or understands what we are facing or how we are feeling, but we are reminded again that Jesus sees, and cares, and is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine as we look to him and trust in him.
Yours in Christ Jesus,