Like a faithful companion, for thirty-eight years his infirmity was with him. Sitting within the five porches of the pool by the sheep market in Bethesda were probably hundreds of sick people – some blind, some crippled, some paralyzed. They were “waiting for the stirring of the water; for an angel of the Lord went down into the pool at appointed seasons and stirred up the water; the first one to go in after the water was stirred was healed of his disease” (John 5:3b-4, AMP).
We are not told the nature of the man’s infirmity, but John tells us, “When Jesus noticed him lying there [helpless], knowing that he had been in that condition a long time, He said to him, ‘Do you want to get well?’ The invalid answered, ‘Sir, I have no one to put me in the pool when the water is stirred up, and while I am coming [to get into it myself], someone else steps down ahead of me.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Get up; pick up your pallet and walk.’ Immediately the man was healed and recovered his strength, and picked up his pallet and walked” (vv. 6-9a). It is interesting to note that the man did not call out to Jesus, but despite the crowd at the Feast and the hundreds by the pool, Jesus saw him. Not only did He saw him, but He also knew his condition and as a result proceeded to ask him the most important question of all, “Do you want to get well?”
The narrative tells us how this encounter ended and the application to our lives is tremendously significant. In Hebrew, the pool was called Bethesda, which means “House of Mercy,” and it is here that we see Jesus extending grace to someone who had done nothing to merit it. It is one of many word pictures in the Bible that reflects Paul’s reminder to the early church, “For it is by grace [God’s remarkable compassion and favor drawing you to Christ] that you have been saved [actually delivered from judgment and given eternal life] through faith. And this [salvation] is not of yourselves [not through your own effort], but it is the [undeserved, gracious] gift of God; not as a result of [your] works [nor your attempts to keep the Law], so that no one will [be able to] boast or take credit in any way [for his salvation]” (Ephesians 2:8-9). While in our sinful state, Jesus came along, called out to us, and extended His grace. Like the man at the pool, there was nothing we could have done and nothing we can do to earn this divine favour. However, grace and mercy met this man at the point of his need, and Jesus is still capable of meeting all of us at the point of our greatest need.
“Do you want to get well?” The same question is asked of you and me today. I guarantee that regardless of the nature of our “infirmity,” there is more than enough grace to take care of it.