[Oct 18]--Trapped By The Pool

John 5:1-8

            In this chapter we’re introduced to one of the more familiar miracle stories in the Gospels. One of the little details which most readers miss is John’s description of the Pool. For hundreds of years skeptics ridiculed this Gospel because archeologists had never seen any evidence of colonnades by any pool in Jerusalem. Leaving aside the obvious fact that absence of evidence is not evidence of absence, those skeptics had to swallow some humble pie a few years ago. Archeologists found the remains of a pool in Jerusalem, and guess what? It had not three, not four, but five colonnades. Since the city was destroyed by the Romans in A. D. 70, this would indicate that the author (whom we believe to be John the Apostle) had to have lived in and been familiar with the Jerusalem prior to that date. This means that, contrary to what some folks claim, the Gospel was not written in the second century. It was written in the first century, when many people who had experienced these events were still alive. Yes, you can trust your Bible to be historically accurate.

            So the Lord Jesus was walking among the sick people surrounding the pool, all of them hoping to be healed. Notice that he didn’t heal everyone: As far as we know, the man described here was the only one there who walked away from his suffering. His compassion (and the leadership of his Father) brought him to this poor soul alone, and I’d like to study him for a bit today.

            At first glance, Jesus’ question seems pretty odd, even cruel. Of course he wanted to be well! Wouldn’t everyone? Friend, there are people who don’t really want to be whole. As long as they’re broken, then they can elicit sympathy and don’t have to take responsibility for themselves or their actions. They don’t have to take care of themselves. Wholeness would mean they'd have to (gasp!!!) work for a living instead of depending on the generosity of others.

            I think the man's response shows why Jesus asked him the question. His response is a window into his soul, and it holds up a mirror in which to examine ourselves. Here’s another sign of soul-sickness: self-pity. I'd never deny or minimize his sufferings: I’ve never been paralyzed, and this man had endured it for 38 years. Could I have undergone all that and not indulge in self-pity or bitterness? I wish I could definitely say yes, but I’m not sure.

            If you’re familiar with the Gospels, then you know that Jesus usually healed in response to faith. Typically the person seeking healing might not have had the faith of Abraham, but they at least had enough of it to seek the One who could help them. Here, there's no indication of faith on the part of the paralytic. But for his own reasons the Savior decided to heal the man. Why did he do this? We don’t know, but we do know that he’s sovereign God and does whatever he pleases. He’s not limited by anything outside of himself, so if he decides to just heal someone, they’re going to be healed. Why does he heal an atheist while the Christian in the next hospital room prays for it and gets denied? I don’t know. He's God, and we're not. 

            But before we leave this passage, I need to examine myself, and I invite you to do the same. Do I indulge in self-pity? Do I really want to be whole? Do I want the responsibilities of being mature in my faith, or am I willing to settle for a lighter load so I can shirk them? And have I fully accepted the fact the he’s sovereign God and I’m not?

Lord Jesus, you are sovereign God, and there is no other. For all the times I’ve indulged in self-pity, please forgive me and change me.

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