John 5: 1-9

Jesus is in Jerusalem for a festival. Being in the Temple, he is drawn to the Pool of Bethesda. Now to us this pool seems to have magic properties. Depending on which version of the Bible you are reading, the water randomly starts to bubble up or an angel stirs the water up. Either way the first person down into the water is healed. Jesus is talking to a lame man who has been lying there for thirty eight years. Thirty eight years! Jesus asks the man if he wants to be well. If you have been sick for thirty eight years, it's pretty certain you want to be well. The man responds that he can't get to the water fast enough, and someone else always gets healing. Here are some things that are easy to miss. The man did not know who Jesus was. To him Jesus is just another person in the crowd. No one else knows who Jesus is, either. The man does not ask Jesus to be healed. Well, that makes sense because he has never seen Jesus before. Jesus does not say anything about faith. All we know is Jesus is talking to a lame man in the Temple and asks the man if he wants to be healed. The response to Jesus is the man explaining the reason he has not been healed at the pool. This does not fit well with our standard picture that Jesus cures people and faith, at least, is involved. Nevertheless, Jesus tells him to pick up his bed and walk. Immediately the man does this. This does not seem to cause a stir. The lame man, now well and walking, doesn't thank Jesus or even ask who he is. No one else in the crowd asks Jesus for healing. The only result is that several verses later the former lame man is chastised by Temple officials for working (carrying his mat) on the Sabbath. The man still does not know who Jesus is and neither do the Temple officials. Now there are lots of interpretations of all this, as you would expect. For me this story on at least one level is about the complete, unmerited love of God for his children. Jesus asks for nothing, not even the recognition of his name; and grace in the form of healing flows down. To me, the absolute giftedness of this story makes it so much more beautiful than it appears at first.