On one of his visits to Jerusalem, Jesus went to the pools of Bethesda, which were believed to have healing properties. There were a large number of sick and disabled people there, but Jesus only spoke to one of them - a man who had been disabled for nearly 40 years. As they talked, it emerged that this man was alone, and had no-one to help him when the opportunity for healing was presented by the volcanic waters being stirred. Jesus simply said to the man: “Get up, pick up your mat, and walk.” And he did.
There are three things worth noting:
1. Jesus did not attempt to cure everyone, but only this man who had no-one else to help him. We easily get overwhelmed by the scale of need in the world, but it seems that God does not expect us to sort it all out. He does, however, desire us to be attentive to those who have no-one else to help them.
2. The man cured promptly got into trouble with the religious authorities for carrying his mat on the Sabbath Day. Jesus was not inclined to let traditional religious law get in the way of the work of God. It is all too easy for us to use law and tradition as excuses for not doing God’s work. Caring for people in genuine need must always be a higher priority.
3. After healing the man, Jesus disappeared into the crowd, and the man had no idea who had healed him. This was typical of Jesus. He did not help people to draw attention to himself or to promote his message. He helped people because they needed help. We need to be wary of doing things because they will promote our faith or our church. If we follow Jesus, we will do what needs to be done and then melt into the crowd.