Living Poolside


One day while in Jerusalem, Jesus came to the pool of Bethesda where a great number of disabled people waited for an angel to stir up the water of the pool.  The story is told in John 5:1-16.  The belief was that whoever made it into the water first would be healed.  One man was there who had been an invalid for thirty-eight years.  Jesus asked him an interesting question.  He asked him, “Do you want to get well?”  On the surface it might seem like a ridiculous question.  What did Jesus think the man was waiting around there for?  Obviously, he had been there hoping for the miracle. 


But when you lift the lid on the situation it becomes clear that this man might not be too serious about getting well.  Jesus asked him a simple yes or no question.  The man began making excuses. “Sir,” the invalid replied, “I have no one to help me into the pool when the water is stirred. While I am trying to get in, someone else goes down ahead of me” (v. 7).  In thirty-eight years the man hadn’t solved the problem of needing someone to help him.  Yet day after day he came.  Doing the same thing in the same way at the same place that he had for years, he hoped for something different.  Or did he really?


Being lame did have some positive features for the man.  For one thing, he didn’t have to take responsibility for himself.  Further evidence of this character flaw can be seen in his response to the Pharisees when they challenged him about carrying his bed on the Sabbath.  Once again he blamed someone else.  He said, “The man who made me well said to me, ‘Pick up your mat and walk.’” 


Another benefit of staying lame was that he didn’t have to leave his comfort zone.  With all the seniority he had there, no doubt he was one of the main figures in daily social life around the pool. 


So when Jesus asked him if he wanted to be healed, he used the same old excuse he had been using for all those years.  You would think that with thirty-eight years to work on it he would have figured something out.  He could have put his bed right beside the pool where he could have rolled off if the water started stirring. 


The proof of desire is pursuit.  You will never possess what you are unwilling to pursue.  Desire is not what you want; it’s what you cannot live without. 


Are there things in life you want?  If there are, then the next question you need to ask yourself is, “What am I doing to make those things a reality in my life?”


Jesus said, “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.  (Matt 5:7-8)  Asking, seeking, and knocking are words of action.  You must take action.  If you are not taking action to make those things a reality, you’re just lying by the pool. For every person who is willing to take action to make a better life for themselves there are hundreds who only want to sit and talk and fantasize about it.  Fool others, but don’t fool yourself.