The Unfairness of It All

“Now there is in Jerusalem by the sheep gate a pool, which is called in Hebrew Bethesda, having five porticoes. In these lay a multitude of those who were sick, blind, lame, and withered, [waiting for the moving of the waters; for an angel of the Lord went down at certain seasons into the pool and stirred up the water; whoever then first, after the stirring up of the water, stepped in was made well from whatever disease with which he was afflicted.]  A man was there who had been ill for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him lying there, and knew that he had already been a long time in that condition, He said to him, “Do you wish to get well?” The sick man answered Him, “Sir, I have no man to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up, but while I am coming, another steps down before me.” Jesus said to him, “Get up, pick up your pallet and walk.” Immediately the man became well, and picked up his pallet and began to walk” (John 5:2-9, NASB).

Imagine being ill for 38 years. I can’t. I get annoyed when I have a cold that lasts for more than two weeks. I can’t even begin to fathom having your entire life defined by an illness. But this man could.

This man had been witness to a lot of unfairness in his life. He had been near the pool for decades waiting for someone to help him into the pool, but no one would. Not only that, but people who hadn’t been there nearly as long as he stepped in front of him to get to the healing waters first. They took away his chance at healing.

But then Jesus shows up. You’d expect Him to carry this man to the pool ahead of the others. But instead He asks a seemingly obvious question — “Do you want to get well?”

You’d think the answer was obvious. But for the man, the quest had become about getting to the pool, no matter what. He wanted to show people he could beat them and get there first. He had settled for being the victim, defining his life in terms of the mistreatment and unfairness he had received from others.

But Jesus asked, “Do you want to get well?”

Jesus didn’t take him to the pool. Instead He gave the man something better. He spoke and the man was healed. No more paralysis, no more begging, no more dragging himself toward the pool year after year. He saw Jesus revealing Himself as Messiah.

Jesus didn’t come to earth in order to make life fair. He had a different — and more glorious — purpose in mind. No matter what has been taken unfairly from you, Jesus came to offer something far better. More than any gifts or healing or experiences, Jesus gave Himself, fully and freely.

He still gives Himself to those who seek Him in faith. That is better than anything else He could offer, because that is exactly what every hurting human heart needs.

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