I find some of the stories in the Bible to be truly peculiar. Some of the stories fit perfectly with what we would expect, while others seem to be a little challenging understand. This might be one of those stories that seems a little odd. I mean Jesus healing is good and all that and really not out of the ordinary at all. But some of the detail seems a little strange to be added into the account. Let’s look a little closer to see what exactly we can learn and why it’s important.
Nestled in these first nine verses of John 5 we find some interesting nuggets of information, and it starts right away in verse one! After this there was a feast… Some detail here might be helpful. After this is just a time stamp to show that there is a sequence to what Jesus is doing. He’s been healing and teaching and now is going to step up his game a little. This healing was during a festival time. While we don’t know what festival it was, we do know that festivals meant people – and lots of them! This meant Jerusalem would have had thousands of extra people milling around its walls.
But the location of the event is probably the most interesting in the whole story. For those of us who are followers of Christ, we know him by the name Lamb of God. Well, the location has a whole new meaning when we read it in light of Jesus’ identity. This pool, called place of mercy, is right next to the sheep gate. And that’s exactly what you think it is. It’s a gate through which the sheep are brought for sacrifice in the temple. But what’s really interesting is that when they’re brought in, the sheep are taken down into this pool where they are washed before sacrificed. Jesus is about to show that true healing isn’t found in a pool or even in a sheep, rather in the Lamb of God.
While at this pool of mercy, really a hangout of misery because everyone there was hurting in some critical way, Jesus hones in on one man. He was a guy that had been suffering for 38 years! When Jesus locks eyes with him, he asks the man if he wants to be better. Seems like a dumb question at first. I mean who wouldn’t want to be made well?! But there’s a deeper issue here. Being well meant he had to care for himself. He had to get a job. He would have to find a place to live that didn’t require assistance from many others.
Then when Jesus heals the man, he doesn’t use the pool like the man expects. He just heals him. Get up! Stand! Go about your day. Do your thing! Wow, so often we wait for the water to heal us. We wait for a healing to come the way we want it to, but what if Jesus just wants us to get up? What if he wants us to just stand, take our mat and start living?
It’s time to trust the Lamb of God who rendered the sheep gate ineffective. It’s time to follow the one who can make us well again without some mystical churning pool of water. The healing he offers is already complete. Now we just need to stand. Just like the man had to trust that Jesus’ healing was enough, we need to trust that what God has given us is enough. So get up! The time is now!