38 Years a Slave

“Now in Jerusalem by the Sheep Gate there is a pool . . . which has five porticoes. In these lay many invalids – blind, lame, and paralyzed. One man was there who had been ill for 38 years . . . Jesus said to him, ‘Do you want to be made well?’” (John 5:2-6)

There was a pool called Bethesda near the Sheep Gate in Jerusalem which had proven healing capabilities. Every so often, the angel of the Lord would come and stir the water, and the first person inside would be cured of his or her ailment. One can only imagine the mad-dash that accompanied such occasions.

This was a big deal, and families and friends would often venture to help their loved one to squeeze their way to the front.

Others were no so lucky.

One gentleman in particular had been enslaved by his illness for 38 years.

38 years!

The physical pain and suffering he experienced goes without saying, but what about the mental anguish this man endured? Everyday waking up wondering: “Is today going to be the day? Will I finally be healed?”

We are told there were only five porticoes. So there wasn’t a ton of room for personal space; and there was virtually no privacy. So imagine the man got to know, and grow close with, his neighbors; and then watch as they got the healing that he was so desperately longing for.

“I’ll come back and visit!” They must have promised. “Yeah, I’ll come help you into the pool next time!”

But… out of sight, out of mind.

The promises come, with good intentions, but they are nonetheless empty and unfulfilled.

It would have been impossible not to despair. In fact, when Jesus asked if he wanted to be made well, he was so conditioned to insincerity and disappointment that he balked.

“There’s no one to help me into the pool,” the man says with probable bitterness (v.7).

“That isn’t what I asked,” Jesus could have said. “Forget the unfairness, forget the broken promises, forget the past. Be made well!”

And immediately the man was healed.

He had to first take his eyes off of himself, and cast them on Jesus. And the healing was immediate.

Ask the Lord to set you free, as well.

“Whomever the Son shall set free…shall be free indeed!”

Amen!

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