Got up this morning thinking about my post on baptism yesterday, and some pretty declarative statements I made there, one of which being: “God never moves without making waves.” In doing so, I was reminded of one of my favorite “Jesus moments” from John’s Gospel.
Some time later, Jesus went up to Jerusalem for a feast of the Jews. Now there is in Jerusalem near the Sheep Gate a pool, which in Aramaic is called Bethesda and which is surrounded by five covered colonnades. Here a great number of disabled people used to lie–the blind, the lame, the paralyzed. One who was there had been an invalid for thirty‑eight years. When Jesus saw him lying there and learned that he had been in this condition for a long time, he asked him, “Do you want to get well?” “Sir,” the invalid replied, “I have no one to help me into the pool when the water is stirred. While I am trying to get in, someone else goes down ahead of me.” Then Jesus said to him, “Get up! Pick up your mat and walk.” At once the man was cured; he picked up his mat and walked. The day on which this took place was a Sabbath, and so the Jews said to the man who had been healed, “It is the Sabbath; the law forbids you to carry your mat.” -John 5:1-10
What I love most about this passage is that Jesus went to where the people needed him the most. Feast time in Jerusalem would have been a cacophony of music, celebrating, eating, dancing, singing, and drinking… but not at the Pool of Bethesda. There was the suffering, misery, wailing, writhing, and hopelessness. Myself, I would have been looking for the party and the people… Jesus, He went looking for the broken and the needy.
Imagine this scene of society’s cast-offs, unproductive and, in that day, worthless, people lying, crawling, and stumbling waiting for the moment in which the waves appear on this water of this pool and their lives could possibly be forever changed. One man, who for 38 years had suffered in this way, was among them.
Sometimes I forget that Jesus noticed this man, and cared enough to ask about him, and then speak to him directly. The intention that directed every step that Jesus took is humbling to me every time I slow down enough to take notice. Not only was Jesus skipping the party to impact the pitiful, he saw them for what they were, not what they were not.
In the end, the movement of God’s healing power did not make waves on the waters of the pool, but through Christ’s love-fueled life of intention, made waves in the life of an invalid and ultimately waves within the broken traditions of Jewish religion.
Here is where it hits home… Am I reflecting the passion that Christ had to not enjoy the party, but impact the people? Am I one of the ones waiting for the water to move or am I making waves that only God can get credit for?