Just another day lying around the Pool. The portico is packed as usual. Good thing he got here early, got his spot. Not that it matters–when the waters are stirred up, it doesn’t seem to matter: others push past him, he misses out on the healing. Oh well. There are worse places than the Bethesda Pool. In 38 years he’s seen a few of them. This place is better than most.
A voice he doesn’t recognize speaks in his ear. “Do you want to get well?” He laughs as he turns his head, squinting into the light which seems to hide the face hovering above him. “Wha–?” Several heartbeats pass, and apparently the stranger wants an answer. It’s not so easy to answer, you know? Can I even picture getting “well”? What does this guy want of me anyway, asking a question like that? Does he think I haven’t tried? I’m lying here, ain’t I? I’m not begging at the Temple, I’m looking for the water cure, but…
“Hey, it’s not my fault! When the water is stirred, everybody gets in ahead of me. I always miss out. Just my bad luck, I guess. ” He turns back toward the pool, hoping the man will go away. It would be easier not to think about things like that. “Healed?” What would he do then? He’d have to earn a living and what does he know how to do anyway? No one expects anything of him here. If he were whole, he’d need to be up and doing.
Do I ever linger in that shadow world by the pool? The colonnade is shaded, not unpleasant. Being an invalid lets me off the hook. Whether crippled by an old grief or a recurring disappointment in people that prevents trust…maybe I’m emotionally fragile, and it’s easier for others not to rely on me. Maybe I can’t deal with stress, the pressure of having responsibility. Can I picture myself healed?
Jesus is so no-nonsense with the lame man. Not getting the simple yes-or-no answer that His question demanded, He just says, “Get up! Pick up your mat and walk.” Just DO it, in other words. No more excuses, no “poor me”. He takes away the right to be a victim. And now there are expectations: “Stop sinning or something worse may happen to you.”
Some believe in order to be healed. Some are supposed to believe because they’ve been healed. But we all are without excuse.