Typing the words “stupid questions” into Google, I selected “50 Stupid Questions Asked on Yahoo! Answers” and began reading some seriously absurd questions that made me wonder what train these people fell off of. Be that as it may, at the pool of Bethesda, Jesus asking a man who had suffered from an incurable illness for 38 years if he wanted to be healed seems like a dumb question too (see John 5:1-15). Personally, I can’t think of ever having been ill and wanting to stay ill. I mean, at the first sign of a cold, I’m headed for Walgreens or CVS to stock up on NyQuil. But, according to one commentator, a Middle Eastern beggar could have made a good living begging for handouts in that day, so the question may have been fair to ask.
Regardless, there was a legend surrounding the pool suggesting that an angel would, from time to time, come down and trouble the waters. The first person who came into contact with the pool afterward would be cured of his or her illness. Whether the legend is fact or fiction, no one knows. Perhaps it had something to do with sacrificial animals being washed there before being offered to God that gave life to the legend. Your guess is as good as mine. Nonetheless, many sick people believed it to be true and gathered there every day, hopeful that today would be their day.
For many of us here in the 21st century, the therapist’s office is a pool of Bethesda, where we sit in the waiting room, hoping today will be our day. For some, it may be the offices of J.P. Morgan, Charles Schwab or Smith Barney. And, sad but true, others look to the church as their Bethesda, coming week after week, waiting for the man standing behind the pulpit or at the lectern to stir the waters. They hope to get in before the waters stop churning, but they never move an inch.
Had the unfortunate man at Bethesda been there the longest? Was that why Jesus went to him? What are we to learn from this story, anyway? There are many lessons wrapped in these verses, but here are a few things I think about :
1) Contrary to what some believe and teach today, the baptismal waters are not a fix. The waters themselves cannot wash away sin.
2) No matter how long you have been looking, the answer is the same today as it was when you first began searching: Jesus.
3) Never give up on God. Look to Jesus, and it just may be that today is the day you will find what you have been looking for.