A while back I found myself returning to a well known story in John 5. Most of us have read the story of the crippled man at the pool of Bethesda. I thought I knew the story through and through, but there is so much more to the story... so much more that makes this miracle even more significant than I had ever realized, so much that speaks to my heart through the centuries and reveals the healing available to us all no matter how "broken" we may be.
John 5:2 "Now there is in Jerusalem a pool near the Sheep Gate. This pool in the Hebrew is called Bethesda, having five porches (alcoves, colonnades, doorways).
3 In these lay a great number of sick folk—some blind, some crippled, and some paralyzed (shriveled up)—[a]waiting for the bubbling up of the water.
4 For an angel of the Lord went down at appointed seasons into the pool and moved and stirred up the water; whoever then first, after the stirring up of the water, stepped in was cured of whatever disease with which he was afflicted.
5 There was a certain man there who had suffered with a deep-seated and lingering disorder for thirty-eight years.6 When Jesus noticed him lying there [helpless], knowing that he had already been a long time in that condition, He said to him, Do you want to become well? [Are you really in earnest about getting well?]
7 The invalid answered, Sir, I have nobody when the water is moving to put me into the pool; but while I am trying to come [into it] myself, somebody else steps down ahead of me."
This man had suffered a very long time, his answer that he had no one to help him into the water speaks that his soul was as sick as his body. He didn't have anyone to help him, his hope of being healed was dashed, he was left broken, alone, hopeless, years wasted, unable to move. I am sure this man had dreams, things that he desperately wanted to do with his life, but circumstance did not allow those dreams to be realized. I wonder if he felt like too much time had passed, that after all that time, he would never be able to realize those dreams, he was no longer a young man, his chance was gone - (few people in the first century lived past fifty and he had suffered fof thirty eight years). In our modern culture we idolize youth, doing everything possible to preserve it. So much emphasis is put on youth that we tend to forget that to God age does not matter, he uses the young, the old and everything in between. In His word, many did not even really get started until they were well past the age we would find useful - Moses, Abraham, the list goes on and on.
Too often, those that the world see as disabled become almost invisible, forgotten. No one "saw" him, to help him to the water, he was too broken to help himself...
Jesus sees him in his helpless state, knowing he has been there a long time and yet asks him if he wants to become well? I thought this question odd until I thought about how we can so easily become comfortable in our situations - even if we despise the situation, it is what we know and change can be scary. Or sometimes we just don't have any idea how to do things differently than we have always done them - it can be unnerving to navigate how to live in a new reality we have never known. Had this man ever worked? If he were able bodied, it would be expected of him. Had he ever done any of the things that we consider part of everyday life? He would now have to learn to live what most would have taken for granted.
So, with a heart full of "what if's", failure, regret and hopelessness, SUDDENLY, everything changed. In one moment, he experienced SOZO (healing, deliverance, salvation) and was never the same, as he "took up his bed and walked" into new life.
There are some things in my life that had made me feel emotionally stuck, broken, paralyzed, not able to move forward. I still had big God dreams in my heart, but I felt as the birthdays had been adding on, my usefulness for God was diminishing, my time running out, my chances gone. Situations had made me feel that I was invisible and I had gotten so used to it, that it had become the "norm". I had felt that my brokenness had disqualified me, not so much in the eyes of God as in the eyes of people who saw my brokenness but not my heart. Just as this man, centuries ago felt like others could step down into the pool and be healed, yet he was passed by, I had felt passed by, passed over, invisible.
Vs 5 - Jesus "noticed" him...Jesus noticed him and He notices us... This man had a choice to make - did he really want change, healing? I realized that I have that same choice to make. Do I trust Him that He is able to heal every hurt in my heart? Do I believe all the He has said over my life and am I willing to allow Him to change me? Am I going to choose to listen to what He says about me, or am I going to listen to my fears, what others say, what the enemy says, etc., and stay stuck? It doesn't matter what our past (or even your present) is unless we choose to stay and live there forever. In a world that throws things away now instead of having them fixed, we need to remember that Daddy God does NOT do that, he is still in the restoration business.
You are not too old, you are not too broken and you are not invisible... He notices YOU...