If there was ever a command I’m guessing someone would love to hear, it would be “Rise . . . and walk.” Or not. Those of us who can rise up and walk whenever we feel like it may not appreciate anybody else telling us to get up and get going. But, what if we hadn’t been able to walk for thirty-eight years? In John 5, we learn about a man who lived in Jerusalem and had been so ill for the past thirty-eight years that he wasn’t able to walk. There was no hospital in Jerusalem, and no physician had been able to heal him, so he spent his days lying by the pool of Bethesda. “Bethesda” means “house of mercy,” and surrounding this pool were five porches where multitudes of desperately ill people spent their miserable days. I suppose if misery loves company, then they probably found some small comfort in being miserable together, but can you imagine what it must have been like trying to subsist in a hot, crowded area (next to the noisy, dirty sheep market no less) where some couldn’t see where they were going and others couldn’t go where they were seeing? How did they eat? How did they handle sanitation issues?But, every day they came because they felt their own helplessness and had heard there was something miraculous about this particular pool. It was purported (and some knew it to be true from witnessing the miracles) that every once in a while an angel came down and stirred up the waters. Whoever first entered the pool after the waters were stirred was healed of whatever illness they had.Now, it just so happened (by divine appointment) that Jesus came to Jerusalem to celebrate a feast, and while he was in town, he noticed the lame man. Knowing the man had been in this sorry state for thirty-eight years (which was even longer than Jesus had been alive), he asked, “Would you like to be healed?” Simple question, and one you’d assume had a simple answer, but the man didn’t say, “You bet! Yes, please!”
Because he didn’t recognize who Jesus was and didn’t understand that Jesus had the power to heal him, the lame man just explained the painfully obvious: “I’ll never get healed, because I’m too slow. I can’t walk, so every time the angel comes, somebody always gets to the water first.”
That’s when Jesus said to him, “Rise, take up thy bed, and walk.” (In those days, as in modern days in many countries, people slept on mats on the ground they could roll up and store during the day while they didn’t need them.) But, Jesus wasn’t asking this man to do the impossible. Jesus also healed the man so he actually had the ability to rise up and walk if he wanted to.
What do you think? Did he rise up and walk? You bet! Yes!! Jesus healed him, and he joyfully obeyed Jesus’s command to get up and get going! The Pool of Bethesda is in ruins today, but the power of Jesus to heal hasn’t lessened one iota in the past 2,000 years ago. I wonder, is there any area in my life or yours where we’ve felt “lame”—unable to fulfill what we believe to be our God-given purpose? Our impotence may be the result of a physical infirmity, and Jesus can heal “whatsoever disease” we may have (although in the story, notice that only one man out of the multitudes was physically healed). If we want physical healing, Jesus does invite us to ask, and He may heal us, but more often he is likely to give us the same answer he gave the Apostle Paul, who testified: “He said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me” (2 Corinthians 12:9).
So: Physical healing? Yes, but rarely. (I personally know of several accounts where people were raised from the dead or healed of terminal diseases, and I’ve read several others in the past few years.) However, Jesus does bear all our griefs and carry our sorrows (Isaiah 53:4). “He was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed” (Isaiah 53:5). Jesus took upon himself the consequences of our sins, and he himself absorbed our infirmaties (Matthew 8:17). Therefore, He has already completed all that is necessary for our spiritual healing. There is not a soul alive who can not “rise and walk” in the newness of life that Jesus has provided for and offers us!
What keeps us from accepting the resurrection power of Jesus? From studying the scriptures, I believe it must be a lack of faith. By, why? All too often, we’re more like the dumb sheep ambling into the market next to the pool of Bethesda: “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on him [Jesus] the iniquity of us all. (Isaiah 53:6). Let’s acknowledge our need, like the lame man, but let’s not just sit around, waiting for somebody to rescue us from the morass of our weaknesses. Let’s obey Jesus and have the good sense to get up and get going!
“And straightway the father of the child cried out, and said with tears, Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief” (Mark 9:24).
“After this there was a feast of the Jews; and Jesus went up to Jerusalem.2 Now there is at Jerusalem by the sheep market a pool, which is called in the Hebrew tongue Bethesda, having five porches.3 In these lay a great multitude of impotent folk, of blind, halt, withered, waiting for the moving of the water.4 For an angel went down at a certain season into the pool, and troubled the water: whosoever then first after the troubling of the water stepped in was made whole of whatsoever disease he had.5 And a certain man was there, which had an infirmity thirty and eight years.6 When Jesus saw him lie, and knew that he had been now a long time in that case, he saith unto him, Wilt thou be made whole? 7 The impotent man answered him, Sir, I have no man, when the water is troubled, to put me into the pool: but while I am coming, another steppeth down before me.8 Jesus saith unto him, Rise, take up thy bed, and walk.9 And immediately the man was made whole, and took up his bed, and walked” (John 5:1-9).