John 5:5-8 (New American Standard Bible)
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.”
Thirty-eight years. This man had been sick for longer than Jesus had been alive as a human being. Jesus saw him, knew his story, and had compassion for him. This man didn’t approach Jesus, asking for help like so many others had. He didn’t track Jesus down, hoping for a miracle. He didn’t even know who Jesus was. But Jesus still loved him.
So Jesus asks the man if he wishes to be well. The man must have thought it was such a strange question. Of course he wanted to be well — that was why he was sitting at the edge of this pool, which was believed to have healing properties. The pool would have been surrounded by a number of invalids, each hoping for healing and freedom from their pain. But, as this man explains to Jesus, he had no one to carry him down into the waters.
Jesus, with great economy of words, tells him to “get up, pick up your pallet and walk.” We’re told next that the man immediately obeys, standing up for the first time in almost four decades.
But by the time he looks around, Jesus has already disappeared. The man doesn’t know who to thank for this miracle. And so he picks up his mat and walks away.
Has a stranger ever helped you in an unexpected way? When was the last time you did something kind for someone you didn’t know?