Some time later, Jesus went up to Jerusalem for one of the Jewish festivals. Now there is in Jerusalem near the Sheep Gate a pool, which in Aramaic is called Bethesda and which is surrounded by five covered colonnades. Here a great number of disabled people used to lie—the blind, the lame, the paralyzed.
One who was there had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him lying there and learned that he had been in this condition for a long time, he asked him, “Do you want to get well?”
“Sir,” the invalid replied, “I have no one to help me into the pool when the water is stirred. While I am trying to get in, someone else goes down ahead of me.” Then Jesus said to him, “Get up! Pick up your mat and walk.” At once the man was cured; he picked up his mat and walked. The day on which this took place was a Sabbath, and so the Jewish leaders said to the man who had been healed, “It is the Sabbath; the law forbids you to carry your mat.” But he replied, “The man who made me well said to me, ‘Pick up your mat and walk.’ “ So they asked him, “Who is this fellow who told you to pick it up and walk?” The man who was healed had no idea who it was, for Jesus had slipped away into the crowd that was there. Later Jesus found him at the temple and said to him, “See, you are well again. Stop sinning or something worse may happen to you.” The man went away and told the Jewish leaders that it was Jesus who had made him well. (The Gospel of John. 5, 1-15)
Why is it that Christ seemed to always know exactly where He was needed the most? He seemed to know all the places where the sick, the suffering, the infirm and the weak waited for His healing touch. Today is known as the Sunday of the Paralytic and from today’s Gospel reading we learn of another such time.
In Jerusalem there was a pool called Probatica. This pool was very special because the Jewish high priests washed sheep in it for sacrificial offerings. People gathered around the pool waiting for the Lord’s healing touch. In a sense, they were sheep in need of a shepherd. The ailing people around the waters of the pool knew their weaknesses. They knew their sinfulness. They knew of their ailments, both physical and spiritual.
They were sorrowful because they understood that they could not be healed through their own power. As Christians we know it is by the power and grace of the Gospel, through faith, and through the Lord’s Glorious Resurrection that our illnesses are healed. It is the Gospel that stirs the waters of the pool. It Is the Gospel that calls all those who are infirm, to be baptized in the water and to be healed through our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
Unfortunately, some of us are unable to come to Christ by ourselves. Many of us need help. Many of us need the Lord and his loving and healing touch to lead us to the saving waters of the pool. The Paralytic waited patiently for thirty-eight years and his hopes were never worn down, he never disbelieved, he never drew back. He waited. His only complaint to Christ when asked about getting into the pool was “Lord, I have no one to assist me”. I have no one! I have no relatives! I have no friends! I am alone."
How sad these words are. Nobody cared about him. Nobody asked Jesus to come and heal him. Nobody would help the paralyzed man make it to the healing waters. Imagine what this poor man felt. He had been abandoned. Salvation was so close, yet there was no way he could reach it. Every day, the pool of Bethesda was crowded with people but no one was willing to help the Paralytic.
Today, so many suffer from different physical and spiritual diseases. They suffer from depression, isolation and loneliness. How many of them say, “Lord, I have no one”! Have you reached out to those in despair? Our own illnesses and our own diseases are many. Some of us suffer from serious physical ailments. Others of us suffer great strain and stress from mental anguish. Physical and mental stress can wear us
down. Do you feel that you are alone with no one to help you? You must not despair. Just as the Lord healed the man who was paralyzed and forgotten for 38 long years, the Lord can transform our lives. The sinful can find righteousness. The prideful can become humble. The greedy can become generous. You have a Christian family here that can help and guide you. These changes can occur through the work of our Lord.
There is a lesson here for every one of us. No matter how long we suffer, no matter how long we think our situation is hopeless, no matter how long we are lost, there will come a time when we are noticed by our Lord. His healing light will reach into our hearts.
This is why we must never give up on others. This is why we must never give up on ourselves, and especially, this is why we must never give up on our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. You do have someone: you just have to turn to Him. Amen.