The sick man answered him, “Sir, I have no one to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up, and while I am going another steps down before me.”
In one, recounted in the Gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke, a man is paralyzed and unable to help himself. But he has friends who care about him, and they had heard about a prophet who healed people. So this man’s friends took him to see Jesus in hopes that He might restore their friend to health.
Unfortunately, they were a little late, and by the time they got to the house where Jesus was teaching, the place was swamped with people. Every doorway was overflowing with followers of Jesus, and even the windows were blocked. But the man’s friends were persistent. They saw one entry point that no one was blocking – the roof.
The man’s friends carried him – on his bed – to the roof, and began to tear a hole in it. Then they carefully lowered him through the hole so that he rested in front of Jesus. Certainly, the homeowner was none too pleased to have a gaping hole in his house, but Jesus was moved by the friends’ faith, and he healed the paralyzed man.
On the other side is the story from today’s scripture. This man was weak and frail and had spent his whole life in that condition. He was so desperate that every day he came to a pool called Bethesda that the locals thought had healing power. Every now and then, the waters would “stir,” or ripple, and the belief was that an angel was touching the water and giving it healing power. When the waters stirred, the sick would get up and wade into the pool in hopes of being healed. Those who couldn’t wade into the pool by themselves would bring friends to help them.
But the man in this scripture was barely able to make it to the pool. When the waters rippled, there was just a short time for him to get up and wade in; he was so weak that others always got in front of him. Enter Jesus, who cared deeply for the sick man, and healed him also.
Friends are great to have, and they definitely can help us when we can’t do things for ourselves. It’s important also to be the kind of friend that helps others when they’re weak and unable to help themselves.
But the real common denominator in these stories is Jesus. One man had friends. He was healed. The other man was friendless. He was healed. You might say that both men had a true friend in Jesus, and he was their best friend. Regardless of their state in life, Jesus was willing to help. He’s also willing to help you and me today.
As you go through your day, pray that the Lord will not only bless you with friends, but that He will help you be the kind of friend you’d like to have. And always remember that you have no better friend than the one who laid down His life for you – Jesus Christ.
Reflection copyright © 2017 Doug DeBolt.
Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.