Reading through the Bible together
Our reading today finds us in Jerusalem by the Sheep Gate pool, called Bethesda in Hebrew, which means house of mercy. Scores of sick people, motivated by a common belief in the supernatural power found at certain times in the water, have gathered for a chance to be healed of their infirmities.
The other Gospels do not carry this story, confining themselves mostly to the miracles that took place in Galilee, while John tends to cover the events taking place in Jerusalem. Jesus is engaged in exactly what He announced at the synagogue in Nazareth as He read from the scroll of the prophet Isaiah: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because He hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; He hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, to preach the acceptable year of the Lord” (Luke 4:18-19).
Being an invalid for thirty-eight years—living in bondage to a debilitating illness—catches the attention and sympathy of Jesus. It is at the center of His mission to help people. We can rest assured, then, there is no ailment we suffer, no issue that pains our heart, no sin that holds us in captivity, that Jesus is not aware of and that He desires to change for us.
About the paralytic who looked rejected and depressed, Ellen White declares: “Jesus does not ask this sufferer to exercise faith in Him. He simply says, ‘Rise, take up thy bed, and walk.’ But the man’s faith takes hold upon that word…Springing to his feet, he finds himself an active man” (The Desire of Ages, p. 202).
The power of Jesus transcends the ability to heal physical maladies. He longs to forgive our sins and liberate us from anything that weighs us down to be ready for His soon coming. Let’s accept God’s gifts of grace today and rejoice in His salvation.
Department of Family Ministries
General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists