Summary: Jesus asks a man who’s been an invalid for 38 years if he wnats to get well. Does that sound like a silly question to you?
John 5 – The Healing at the Pool
Do you want to get well?
A quick question for you today…who likes to be sick? Think of a headache, a cold, the flu, a sore muscle, or perhaps worse. Maybe it’s a broken bone, a head injury, or food poisoning. Or perhaps it’s the worst, a terminal illness. Does anyone LIKE to be sick? And if you were to become, or are sick, would you prefer to be well?
I can think of a few instances where people have faked being sick, perhaps in order to get out of doing something they don’t want to do, get a day off work, or miss school. Remember the movie “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off?” Here’s a high school kid who really doesn’t want to be in school, so he fakes a terrible cold to get his parents to keep him home from school for the day. He’s got the cough, the sore throat, the temperature, the clammy hands, the whole nine yards. But once his parents leave home, suddenly all the symptoms are gone, and he’s ready to have the day of his life. Now the troubles he gets into from that point have nothing to do with our sermon today.
We’re looking at a passage today where Jesus asks a man a very interesting question, “Do you want to get well?” Just to set up the scene here, let’s take a look at the place Jesus finds this man. It’s the pool at Bethesda, the ‘house of mercy’. A spring-filled pool where tradition had it that an angel ‘stirred’ the water occasionally, and the first person who got into the water when the water moved, would be healed of whatever their disease may be. Archaeologists have uncovered this ancient site in Jerusalem and found the five porches and pool where the sick, the lame, the invalids would spend their day, hoping they would be the lucky pool lottery winner of the day. They would come daily, perhaps brought by family members, friends, or a merciful neighbour. Since they had no means of income, they would be fed by the mercy of those who would share with these outcasts of society.
What would we see there? Dozens, maybe hundreds of people with diseases of every kind. The blind, how are they to see when the waters are stirred. The deaf, how are they to hear what’s going on? The lame, how are they to get down to the water? Who would we see? The young, the old, women, men, children; all here because no one wants them around their house all day long. What would we smell? Can you imagine what this place must be like. If you’ve ever been in a place where the sick and dying spend a lot of time, perhaps you can relate to the smell around this pool. And remember, this is in a hot climate. Perhaps it’s a really hot day and the air is still. And what would we hear? Sounds of people crying out in pain, crying out in hunger, crying out for mercy.
And into the middle of this scene walks Jesus. And He walks through this part of town, a part of town many people might just choose to avoid. After all, who wants to be around a group of sick, smelly, complaining people? Would we? Would we LIKE to spend time in such an uncomfortable place? Jesus did. He was OFTEN found in the place of ‘sinners’. He specifically went to places that the average person would never dream of even being seen in. Why? Because He loves not just the healthy, the rich, the socially secure, those with high paying jobs, those with good reputations, the elite, the first-class. He loves everyone. He loves the rich and the poor, the billionaire and the beggar in the street, the doctor and the person dying of AIDS, the model family of four and the single-parent with 5 kids, the driver and the pedestrian, the world-class athlete and this poor invalid at the pool of Bethesda.
A man who had been at this place for 38 years. 38 years! That’s how old I am. This poor fellow had been coming to this pool for as long as I’ve been alive. Each day, rain or shine, somehow he got to this place of hope. Did he spend day and night there, we don’t know? All we know is that he came with a hope of being healed. And Jesus asks him, “Do you want to get well?” I can imagine what my response might be…What? Are you kidding? Do I want to get well? Are you seriously asking me this? No, I just come here for the fun. Look around, what a great place to hang out! I’m here with all my invalid friends, Blind Bart wandering around over there, Lame Leroy sitting in his ‘spot’ as always, and deaf Demetrius, he never comes when he’s called. Yeah we’re all having a great time here. YES I WANT TO GET WELL!