Jesus healed a man who had been an disabled for thirty-eight years (John 5:5). The man must have been desperate: he had been putting his hope in the healing powers of the waters of Bethesda, which would bubble up periodically, and it was thought that the first person in after the waters bubbled up would be healed. But this man had no one to help him get in first (v.7).
He had no friends, no close family. Nobody cared for him. He was alone and abandoned. Nobody loved him, but Jesus loved him.
Jesus says to him, as he says to each one of us, ‘Do you want to get well?’ (v.6). For thirty-eight years, this man had learned to survive as he was. Now he has to rise up, make choices, find new friends, find work and become responsible for his life.
Joyce Meyer writes of this incident that, in effect, Jesus said to the man, ‘Don’t just lie there, do something!’ She continues, ‘Being sexually abused for approximately fifteen years and growing up in a dysfunctional home left me lacking confidence and filled with shame. I wanted to have good things in my life, but I was stuck in emotional torment and despair.
‘Like the man in John 5, Jesus did not give me pity either. Jesus was actually very firm with me and He applied a lot of tough love, but His refusal to let me wallow in self-pity was a turning point in my life. I am not in the pit any longer. I now have a great life. If you will reject self-pity, actively look to God and do what He instructs you to do, you can have a great life too.’