“Do you want to be made whole?” Jesus asked the cripple on the rugged mat.
For 38 years, the man had waited at the pool of Bethesda in the vain hope that he could be healed when the water stirred. Imagine the thoughts that raced through his head. It must have been along the lines of: For 38 years, I’ve waited, crawled, pleaded and begged. I’ve been here in the rain, the heat, the cold and the wind. Why is this man asking the obvious?
The cripple didn’t directly answer the question, but in John 5:7, we can hear him stating his unmistakable reality.
“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 15:7 ESV).
In other words, the cripple was saying he couldn’t be made whole because he couldn’t do it on his own and no one was helping him.
The man focused on what he didn’t have: friends, ability and support. But by doing so, he neglected the fact that Jesus was right beside him! The One who breathed stars into being, got His hands dirty in the mud to form humankind and breathed the breath of life was standing with compassion next to the man.
Somehow this sounds eerily familiar in my life. How often have I focused on what I lacked? Or have pointed out the barriers to God when He asks His seemingly obvious questions? How many times have I struggled to be enough by my inadequate strength? How often have I been frustrated by the people around me that have neglected me on my spiritual journey when all the time Jesus has been right next to me? How often have I cried out to God to make me whole and then crawled back to my rugged mat?
Thankfully, the story doesn’t end there. Jesus speaks, “Get up, take up your bed and follow me” (John 5:8).
Jesus didn’t guarantee a miracle. He just gave the command to walk. As the man trusted, the unused muscles suddenly became strong and a miracle began.
So here’s the secret: Do you want to be made whole? Stop trying on your own. Look past the obvious and into the compassionate face of Jesus. Lean on Him. Trust in Him. Follow Him beyond the obvious.