Jesus visited the pool of Bethesda to see a crippled man who had been disabled for thirty eight years. Now Jesus’s question to the man could make a person wonder whether or not he was being redundant. Onlookers would suggest that it was obvious that the man wanted to be healed. Why then would he have been sitting by the pool, waiting for it to be stirred so that he could step in? The idea was that at certain times, an angel would step in and stir the pool and the first person who stepped in after the stirring, would be made whole from their infirmity. “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).
Notice that Jesus didn’t ask the man why he had not been made whole after thirty eight years. He didn’t ask him why he had not made it into the pool before then. The man was ready with an excuse for why he was still crippled. The man hoped that Jesus could enter into his experience and understand why it was difficult for him to be healed. Maybe the man hoped that Jesus would hang around and wait with him for the pool to be stirred to help him get to into the water. The reality is that the likelihood of that was slim because there were many people competing to get into the water.
There was good news for the man because the healing which Jesus could offer was not one that he needed to compete for. All the man needed to do was to agree with Jesus and he would be made well. “Jesus said to him, “Get up, take up your bed, and walk”” (John 5:8). At this statement from Jesus, the man was instantly healed, took up his bed and walked away from that pool.
As long as the man remained fixated on the pool, he would remain bound. His healing was not dependent on the pool being stirred, but on his belief in Jesus Christ. Jesus asked the question in the beginning because there are people who unfortunately do not want to be made well. A small minority of people are addicted to the attention and sympathy that they gain from being unwell. Some people have been unwell for so long that they stop believing that it is possible to be healed. Thirty eight years was a long time, but the man’s desire to be healed drew the attention of Jesus Christ. This desire led to his healing and freedom from his infirmity.