READING: 2 Kings 24-25, John 5:1-24
“Get up,” Jesus told him, “pick up your mat and walk!”
It surely seemed like a strange question. The man had been lame for almost four decades. He had been lying near the pool of Bethesda – where the stirring of the waters apparently brought healing to some – but nobody would help the man into the pool. Someone always got to the water before he could, leaving him lying there for another day without healing. We don’t know from the text how long he had been there, but we do know it had been a long time (John 5:6). Day after day, month after month, and year after year he somehow got to the area, only to miss a healing another day.
When Jesus appeared on the scene, He asked the man a question that must have sounded odd: “Do you want to get well?” (John 5:6). Why would Jesus ask such a question to a man who had been on his back for 38 years? Jesus already knew all about the man, so His question must have been to help us see the man’s heart. His response, “I don’t have a man to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up, but while I’m coming, someone goes down ahead of me” (John 5:7) at least implies the man’s desire to be healed. At the same time, though, it would seem to indicate his utter hopelessness. He could not help himself, and it seemed that no one else was willing to help him. Each day that ended in defeat surely robbed him of another ounce of hope – perhaps so much so that any thought of ever being healed had become a fleeting one by the time Jesus encountered him that day. Certainly, he did not expect that Jesus would be the one to bring healing.
But, this man was just the kind of man to whom Jesus comes. He reaches out to the needy, the hurting, the defeated. He brings hope to the hopeless, joy to the struggling, and peace to the conflicted. To put it simply, He is not alarmed by the desperate; in fact, He delights when desperation makes people open to Him. A lame man by a pool outside of Jerusalem was just an opportunity for Jesus to magnify Himself when He ordered the man to “Get up, pick up your mat and walk!” (John 5:8).
Maybe you are hurting and desperate today. You feel alone. Your efforts seem futile. You’re dangerously close to losing hope. If that’s where you are, take heart. Jesus makes His way to people like you.
- Ask God to make you desperate for Him.
- Reach out today to someone whose life seems to be marked by hopelessness. A lunch and a prayer can begin to restore hope.
PRAYER: “God, thank You that You reach out to the hurting and the desperate.”
TOMORROW’S READING: 1 Chronicles 1-3, John 5:25-47