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Help of the Helpless

Lent 2022

Read John 5:1-14

1 After this there was a feast of the Jews, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem.

2 Now there is in Jerusalem by the Sheep Gate a pool, in Aramaic called Bethesda, which has five roofed colonnades. 3 In these lay a multitude of invalids—blind, lame, and paralyzed. 5 One man was there who had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. 6 When Jesus saw him lying there and knew that he had already been there a long time, he said to him, “Do you want to be healed?” 7 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.” 8 Jesus said to him, “Get up, take up your bed, and walk.” 9 And at once the man was healed, and he took up his bed and walked.

Now that day was the Sabbath. 10 So the Jews said to the man who had been healed, “It is the Sabbath, and it is not lawful for you to take up your bed.” 11 But he answered them, “The man who healed me, that man said to me, ‘Take up your bed, and walk.’” 12 They asked him, “Who is the man who said to you, ‘Take up your bed and walk’?” 13 Now the man who had been healed did not know who it was, for Jesus had withdrawn, as there was a crowd in the place. 14 Afterward Jesus found him in the temple and said to him, “See, you are well! Sin no more, that nothing worse may happen to you.”

This story shows a stark contrast from the previous miracle account. Previously, the official came to Jesus, Here, Christ approaches the invalid at the pool. The official sought out Jesus because he had heard the reports. This invalid seemed to have no idea who Jesus was. The official persistently asked Jesus to grant healing. The invalid made no such request and seemed only to be focused on how he might be able to get into the pool. Yet in both, Christ demonstrates his power, authority, and loving kindness.

Jesus asked, “Do you want to be healed?” All the man could respond with is, “I have no one to put me in the pool.” More literally, “I don’t have a man.” Maybe most simply, “I have nobody.” And yet, Jesus was before him with the power to heal. No pool necessary. No truer depiction could be given for the plight of humanity, when faced with our sin and Satan’s power in this world, than in this exchange. It is an idea summarized in the poetry of the hymn, A Mighty Fortress:

No strength of ours can match his (Satan’s) might. We would be lost, rejected.
But now a champion comes to fight, Whom God Himself elected.
You ask who this may be? The Lord of hosts is He,
Christ Jesus, mighty Lord, God’s only Son, adored,
He holds the field victorious.

Prayer: Father, thank you for sending Jesus to be the man; my victor over sin and death. Help me never lose sight of the fact that, with victory already secured, he fights by my side. Amen.

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