Jesus said, “Get up, take up your bed, and walk.” When he said this to the ‘invalid’ man by the pool (John 5:8), he wasn’t joking. Whatever was wrong with this man (probably paralysed or lame) he had been this way for thirty-eight years. Everyone who knew this man knew him to be an ‘invalid’. In those days, they had no benefit system provided by the government. Each family provided for themselves unless you were of high ranking like a Priest, Scribe, or King. This man would likely have been an outcast, living among the other invalids scavenging food. His family and support group probably gave up on him years ago by seeing there was no hope for him.
So it’s understandable why this man’s whole hope for a better future was in the apparent healing powers of the Bethesda pool. Many believed that the pool of Bethesda could perform healing miracles so all the invalids would gather to wash in it. The irony of the story is that the invalid asks Jesus to lift him into the pool to be healed when actually, the very person capable of performing such a miracle was Jesus himself who was standing right in front of him!
So often, when we face hardship, suffering and affliction, we find hope and comfort in something or someone other than the One who provides infinite comfort and eternal hope. We are so blinded by our sin that we continually fail to look to Christ for hope. Jesus reveals himself to this man by being that hope. He set him free from his bondage to his physical disability and told him to get up and to walk. Do you think this man got up and walked into the pool? I don’t think so. He didn’t need to. Whilst the others were rolling in the pool, this man stood for the first time in thirty-eight years, was completely satisfied, and walked home.
This is exactly what we need today and every day; to see who is before us. Jesus has revealed himself to us by coming into the world to set us free from our greatest bondage: the bondage of sin. We need to stop trying to find answers to our needs anywhere else because Jesus is our hope. He is our only hope. Because of who he is and what he’s done, we can be get up and walk free from our bondage. Through his sacrificial atonement on the cross at Golgotha, Christ’s blood cleanses us from our sin. Charles Wesley’s famous hymn ‘And Can it Be’ has that fabulous sentence which says,
My chains fell off, my heart was free,
I rose, went forth, and followed Thee.
Through Christ alone, we can rise as he rose from the grave, go forth, and follow him who is worthy of our praise. Glory be to God.