Now there is in Jerusalem by the Sheep Gate a pool, in Aramaic called Bethesda, which has five roofed colonnades. In these lay a multitude of invalids—blind, lame, and paralyzed. One man was there who had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him lying there and knew that he had already been there a long time, he said to him, “Do you want to be healed?” The sick man answered him, “Sir, I have no one to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up, and while I am going another steps down before me.” Jesus said to him, “Get up, take up your bed, and walk.” And at once the man was healed, and he took up his bed and walked. Now that day was the Sabbath. (John 5:2-9)
Does the question Jesus asked the man at Bethesda surprise you? Shouldn’t the answer be obvious? This man has suffered for nearly 40 years, surely he wanted to be healed!
The man was likely as surprised by Jesus’ question as we were. Rather than answer the question, he began to make excuses and we can almost hear the sarcasm in his voice – “Of course I want to be healed, if I didn’t I wouldn’t keep coming back here year after year. You don’t seem to understand my circumstances. Look at me. I’m crippled, it’s a long way down to the pool, and there are all these other people who can move a lot faster than I can.”
The sick man answered him, “Sir, I have no one to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up, and while I am going another steps down before me.” (John 5:7)
Almost as if he didn’t hear the man, Jesus pressed on.
Jesus said to him, “Get up, take up your bed, and walk.” (John 5:8)
Like the crippled man, we get it into our minds that God’s power is limited by our circumstances. That’s wrong thinking. Even when our faith fails, God does not. Look closely at the sequence in the next verse.
And at once the man was healed, and (then) he took up his bed and walked. (John 5:9)
Throughout His ministry, Jesus asked many “Do You” questions. The questions He asked in ages past are relevant for us today. They are questions that each of us must answer for ourselves.
When we need faith
“But who do you say that I am?” (Matthew 16:15)
“Why do you question these things in your hearts?” (Mark 2:8)
When we need help
“What do you want me to do for you?” (Matthew 20:32)
“Do you believe that I am able to do this?” (Matthew 9:28)
When we need answers
“Do you not understand?” (Mark 4:13)
“Whom do you seek?” (John 18:4)
“ do you love me more than these?” (John 21:15)
Thinking back on all the “do you” questions Jesus has asked me through the years, I realize how often I gave excuses instead of answers. Like the man in these passages, there have been many times that I was crippled by past experiences and overcome by present circumstances; there still are. I’m so glad that God is not a God of circumstances, aren’t you?
Copyright ©️ 2019 Sandra Bivens Smith