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One thing that makes Jesus so endearing— what draws people to Him— is His mercy. I know it’s what captivated my heart. As undeserving as I felt, I needed the mercy He offered. I was lost, and then I was found— just like the man at the pool of Bethesda.
This story has been preached in countless churches by countless pastors, but I want to challenge us to look at this man through a different lens. Here is someone sitting in what we would call today a homeless shelter. The Bible says it was called “The House of Loving Kindness” in Aramaic (TPT). Its name sounds welcoming, especially to the “Hundreds of sick people [who] were lying under the covered porches—the paralyzed, the blind, and the crippled—all of them waiting for their healing” ( TPT).
I’ve been to this location in Israel. It still stands today. And all these years later, you can still picture the beauty and serenity of it. With its many alcoves and shaded areas surrounding a deep chasm in the rock, it’s easy to imagine people lying all around it. But much like our modern-day homeless, it was likely a natural mess with people’s belongings, bed mats, and sheer disillusionment, as many had been there a very long time in their condition.
This is the case of the man Jesus encountered.
But I want to point out one aspect of his story that could easily get lost, yet I believe plays a dramatic role in his healing that day.
“Among the many sick people lying there was a man who had been disabled for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him lying there, he knew that the man had been crippled for a long time. Jesus said to him, ‘Do you truly long to be well?’ The sick man answered, ‘Sir, there’s no way I can get healed, for I have no one to lower me into the water when the angel comes. As soon as I try to crawl to the edge of the pool, someone else jumps in ahead of me’” (TPT).
I’ve heard ministers read this story in a tone insinuating the man was whining. But I want to ask, why this man? Why not any of the other hundred people lying at the pool that day? I believe it started with eye contact. In every other account of Jesus healing someone, there was contact.
As Jesus approached the House of Loving Kindness, I have no doubt His heart was moved with compassion. But all of them were intently watching the water— hoping, praying, the waters would be stirred again. Only one man caught Jesus’ eye because his eyes were elsewhere. Catching his glance, Jesus said, “Do you want to be made well?”
The man could easily have answered sarcastically: “Well duh, that’s why I’ve been sitting here all these years!” But instead, he answered naturally. He didn’t know who Jesus was or what Jesus offered, so he answered in the only faith he had— but it was enough.
And this is where you and I enter the story.
I didn’t know what Jesus had to offer when I came to Him for salvation. I was just so tired of my life. I was desperate for healing—heart healing. And the world made many promises that seemed to work for some, but left me empty. And like the man near the pool, I started to look elsewhere. In fact, like him, I looked up and heard Jesus whisper to my heart, “Do you want to be made well?”
“I’ve tried everything. It’s no use.”
“Jesus said, ‘Get up, take your bedroll, start walking.’ The man was healed on the spot. He picked up his bedroll and walked off” (MSG).
One word from the Savior changed everything.
But it started with focus.
What are you looking at? If you want change in your life, you’re going to have to make eye contact with Jesus—with His Word. If desperation was all that was needed for healing, everyone at the pool that day would’ve been healed. But Jesus saw a glimmer of faith—from one who was looking up.
Be that one today.
Copyright © 2021 Daphne Delay, used with permission.
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