After this there was a feast of the Jews, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. Now there is in Jerusalem by the Sheep Gate a pool, in Aramaic called Bethesda, which has five roofed colonnades. In these lay a multitude of invalids—blind, lame, and paralyzed. One man was there who had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him lying there and knew that he had already been there a long time, he said to him, “Do you want to be healed?” The sick man answered him, “Sir, I have no one to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up, and while I am going another steps down before me.” Jesus said to him, “Get up, take up your bed, and walk.” And at once the man was healed, and he took up his bed and walked. [John 5:1-9]
Jesus asked this question of the blind man at Bethesda. But rather than responding with a straight answer, he blames the lack of people to bring him into the pool and the other people who beat him to the pool when it stirs. He became incapable of answering that question because his heart had become too hardened. Self-pity and wallowing feels good almost, as it excuses us from our own actions.
We can almost here the blind man’s thoughts in this passage. ‘If only…someone would bring me into the pool.’ ‘If only… all these other people weren’t here.’ ‘If only the pool would stay stirred for just a little longer.’ ‘If only…I were healed.’ It becomes dangerous when we place so much faith and hope in something, especially something that cannot live up to its hype, as the pool was not actually going to heal him. But Jesus saw this man and thought an ‘If only…’ thought as well, ‘If only…you knew who I was.’ At a certain point, when we’re too far gone and so in our heads that we can’t see reality anymore, we can’t hear Him calling to us, trying to let us know He’s there.
We can’t be grateful if we’re still self-pitying and denying reality. We need to place into perspective what we really deserve, which is less than nothing. Thankfulness demands a firm grasp of reality. Let us see reality for what it is, see ourselves as who we are, see God for who He is, and stop wallowing in what we don’t have but all that we do have in Him.
‘Do you want to be healed?’ The constant cries of our hearts to this question go something like this,
‘I’m too messed up.’
‘I don’t want to mess up my life.’
‘I don’t know what you mean – I don’t need healing.’
What will be our response?
I waited patiently for the Lord; He inclined to me and heard my cry. He drew me up from the pit of destruction, out of the miry bog, and set my feet upon a rock, making my steps secure. He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God. Many will see and fear, and put their trust in the Lord. [Psalm 40:1-3]