Summary: We find the answer to this question in the story of the invalid by the pool of Bethesda.
Intro: One day our local video store was having a clearance on old movies. They had hundreds of old movies on sale for $2.00 a piece. Me and my son Andrew had a few movies in mind that we would like to buy and decided to go to the sale and take advantage of the opportune deal. We arrived just a few minutes after the sale was scheduled to begin and to my surprise the streets around the video store was jam packed with cars. When we made our way into the store it was also packed with frantic customers with eyes glazed over in a shopping frenzy. Now the videos that were for sale where not on the shelves where they would be easy to brose through, they just had them in boxes that where all scattered in the middle of the floor. When my son and I made our way around to the boxes I was a little disappointed by what I saw. A crowed of people where down on there hands and knees young and old alike pulling, clawing, arguing and fighting over the videos. At first Andrew and I attempted to engage in the video buying brawl, but soon discovered that we weren’t willing to pay the price for the $2.00 videos. It was first come first serve, and everyone one was doing all they could to be first.
The world tells us “you better get it while the get tin’s good”, “you snooze you loose” and “survival of the fittest”. So we scratch, claw and fight with anyone who stands between us and what we want. And in the process many people get wounded. Relationships are damaged, families are broken, carriers are wrecked and people are set to the side to suffer in their loss.
1. A place of pain. (v1-5) Jesus encounters the man near a large pool north of the temple in Jerusalem. It’s 360 feet long, 130 feet wide, and 75 feet deep. A colonnade with five porches overlooks the body of water. It’s a monument of wealth and prosperity, but its residents are people of sickness and disease. It’s called Bethesda, but it could be called Cosby-Germany Hospital, it could be the homeless huddled beneath a downtown Dallas overpass, it’s like any collection of hurting people.
An underwater spring caused the pool to bubble occasionally. The people believed the bubbles were caused by the dipping of angel’s wings. They also believed that the first person to touch the water after the angel did would be healed. The sights, sounds and smells of Bethesda must have been hard to take. Imagine a battleground strewn with wounded, or an overcrowded understaffed nursing home and that’s what Bethesda must have been like.
We have all lived around the pool of Bethesda. We have been spiritually blind, emotionally lame, and morally paralyzed. And some have been too long that hope is almost gone.
2. Sometimes God is silent. (v.6) For 38 –years this man had been in this condition. I don’t know why God is silent for so long sometimes. Jesus must have stepped across others who were in need to approach this one man. What happened when His eyes meet those who reached out for alms? When His feet brushed up against the body of an infected person? What did Jesus do when a blind child stumbled into His path, did He reach out to catch him? I guess the question we’re really asking is how does God feel when people hurt? We answer this question by observing where we find Jesus in this story. He didn’t have to be here you know? Surely there where more sanitary crowds in Jerusalem. Surely there were more enjoyable activities. After all, this is the Passover feast. It’s an exciting time in the holy city. People have come from miles around to meet God in the temple. Little do they know God is with the sick. He is walking slowly, stepping carefully between the beggars and the blind.
3. The blame game. (v.7) When things don’t go the way we want them to it’s often times easier to point to someone else and cast the blame on them. No doubt the invalid needed help getting in and out of the pool and sometimes we find ourselves in situations where we need help. But, we also need to realize God’s in control and ask ourselves if we’re truly seeking Him. We allow others in the church to negatively affect our PERSONAL relationship with God when we let them run us out of the church. There are many excuses people use on why not to go to church, and most of them have to do with what another person in the church has done to hurt their feeling or offend them. When we have problems in the church we must discipline ourselves to stay focused on our personal relationship with God, and allow our faith to continue to be enriched and used in the body of Christ.