(1) After this there was a feast of the Jews; and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. (2) Now there is at Jerusalem by the sheep market a pool, which is called in the Hebrew tongue Bethesda, having five porches. (3) In these lay a great multitude of impotent folk, of blind, halt, withered, waiting for the moving of the water. (4) For an angel went down at a certain season into the pool, and troubled the water: whosoever then first after the troubling of the water stepped in was made whole of whatsoever disease he had. (5) And a certain man was there, which had an infirmity thirty and eight years. (6) When Jesus saw him lie, and knew that he had been now a long time in that case, he saith unto him, Wilt thou be made whole? (7) The impotent man answered him, Sir I have no man, when the water is troubled, to put me in the pool: but while I am coming another steppeth down before me. (8) Jesus saith unto him, Rise, take up thy bed, and walk. (9) And immediately the man was made whole, and he took up his bed, and walked: and on the same day was Sabbath. (John 5:1-9 KJV)
This is one of the passages of scripture. That when I hear it being preached over the pulpit. Or in a bible study. It is taught with disdain over the impotent man who sat thirty-eight years at the pool of Bethesda. The most common argument being.. That if he really wanted to get in that pool. He would have gotten in a long time ago. Today, that argument would sound like. If that person really wanted to be delivered he/she would be delivered by now. I always saw this differently. For a living, I work with individuals (not all but most) who is paralyzed who without assistance from me or others. Would not be able to do what we would consider simple task. Such as taking a bath. Because, of my job I could never understand the disdain over the impotent man at the Bethesda pool. The dictionary describes the word impotent as being unable to take effective action, helpless, or powerless. Here we see at this pool a man who was powerless to do anything about his situation and his circumstances. In the last part of verse 7 the man makes this statement but while I am coming, another steppeth down before me. Have you ever been in a situation like this impotent man. Powerless to do anything about the situation that you find yourself in. One of the most common misconceptions about this man. Was that he just sat at the pool waiting for someone else to put him in, but that’s not the case at all for in verse 7 he says, but while I am coming, another steps down before me. Which tells us that he tried but someone always managed to step in before him. It can be frustrating, when you are close to your healing, but then something happens and you are back at square one. Thirty-eight years is a long time to feel ineffective. It is a long time to be in a helpless situation. In those thirty-eight years. It is easy to become discouraged. It is easy to fall into that thinking trap of this is how my life will always be. This however is a But God moment. Here is my favorite part of this passage.
(6) When Jesus saw him lie, and knew that he had been now a long time in that case, he saith unto him, Wilt thou be made whole? (John 5:6 KJV)
One day at the pool of Bethesda. It was different. A man named Jesus happened to be present. Scripture tells us that Jesus saw him. That he not only saw him, but that Jesus knew just how long he had been in that case. Sometimes its not just enough to see that someone in their situation, but to know not just the length of time, but to know the struggle. To know the discouragement and sometimes the embarrassment. One of my favorite names of God. Is the name El Roi. Which means the God who sees me. Last year I had an encounter with the God El Roi. When depression and suicide knocked on my door. When everybody except two individuals walked away. When others couldn’t understand that after 20 years of fighting depression and suicidal ideation/attempts. That I was tired. That I was also angry. I ran into the God who saw me. When no one else did. He saw why I responded in the ways that I did. Did my actions please him. No, but he saw past my faults and saw that I desperately needed him. This is one of the many scriptures that God brought me to last year in that season of darkness. I want for you to get this. It was something that I had to learn. If someone would have helped this impotent man into the pool. He would’ve never had the encounter with Jesus that he had. Sometimes God will allow other people to pass you by. Just so that he could have that intimate encounter with you. I was angry with the people in my life. Who did not take depression seriously. God had to tell me. I allowed them to pass you by. So that you could meet me (God). Had someone would have helped me. The way that I thought that they should have. I would have missed my appointment with God. I would have been to busy chasing other things. Somebody else would have gotten the glory, for what only God should get the glory for.
(8) Jesus saith unto him, Rise, take up thy bed, and walk. (John 5:8 KJV)
I love this! Jesus was telling this former impotent man. That he was no longer powerless! To rise up. Take up your mat. That thing you were so comfortable with. That thing that sometimes coddled you. Take it and walk. To rise means to move from a lower position to a higher one. Jesus was telling him you are no longer helpless. Now you have the freedom to move. You have the freedom to walk. No longer will you have to wait on assistance from someone else. The truth is that just about everyone at the pool of Bethesda needed to be healed of something. Others weren’t able to help this man. When they had a need themselves. I had to learn. That Jesus is the only one who can truly heal us. In our time of need.