1 After this there was a feast of the Jews; and Jesus went up to Jerusalem.
2 Now there is at Jerusalem by the sheep market a pool, which is called in the Hebrew tongue Bethesda, having five porches.
3 In these lay a great multitude of impotent folk, of blind, halt, withered, waiting for the moving of the water.
4 For an angel went down at a certain season into the pool, and troubled the water: whosoever then first after the troubling of the water stepped in was made whole of whatsoever disease he had.
5 And a certain man was there, which had an infirmity thirty and eight years.
6 When Jesus saw him lie, and knew that he had been now a long time in that case, he saith unto him, Wilt thou be made whole?
7 The impotent man answered him, Sir, I have no man, when the water is troubled, to put me into the pool: but while I am coming, another steppeth down before me.
8 Jesus saith unto him, Rise, take up thy bed, and walk.
9 And immediately the man was made whole, and took up his bed, and walked: and on the same day was the sabbath.
10 ¶ The Jews therefore said unto him that was cured, It is the sabbath day: it is not lawful for thee to carry thy bed.
11 He answered them, He that made me whole, the same said unto me, Take up thy bed, and walk.
12 Then asked they him, What man is that which said unto thee, Take up thy bed, and walk?
13 And he that was healed wist not who it was: for Jesus had conveyed himself away, a multitude being in that place.
14 Afterward Jesus findeth him in the temple, and said unto him, Behold, thou art made whole: sin no more, lest a worse thing come unto thee. (John 5:1-14)
When I was reading this, something that stuck out to me was the man’s answer when Jesus asked him if he wanted to be made whole. He said, “Sir, I have no man, when the water is troubled, to put me into the pool: but while I am coming, another steppeth down before me” (v7). He doesn’t think his long problem is his fault; it’s someone else’s fault, someone else gets the luck, no one is willing to help.
This is meaningful to me because sometimes I go through stages when I feel like I am “impotent” or powerless to act. Like the man who sat waiting for a sign of something good about to happen and waiting for someone to help him, I sometimes wait, thinking that I need a lucky break or I need someone or something to come into my life and help me with a problem. Jesus tells the man to rise, take up his bed, and walk, commanding him to act. In the moment of action, the man is healed of his infirmity. This teaches me that if I simply rise up and take action, in that moment, I am healed of my powerlessness.
An example of times when this happens is when I feel like I have something I need to write for this blog. Often I feel like the essence of what I have to communicate is so sublime and edifying that any attempt I make to express it will fail. So I dither, waiting to be inspired. I read scriptures, conference articles, and a mountain of uplifting things, hoping to be “moved upon” so that I can feel up to writing what I feel has to be written. But I still feel inadequate and powerless.
For some reason, I have to be reminded over and over that I just need to ACT. I need to begin, to try. I have impressions to just sit down and dash something off as quickly as possible without thinking too hard about it. So, I pluck up some courage and I do. And in the process of acting, I overcome my feelings of powerlessness.
How interesting that when the man acts miraculously, he immediately gets smacked down by the Jews for breaking the law. The Jews had many little rules for what could and couldn’t be done on the Sabbath. Someone who broke the rules was considered unholy and could be killed. Jesus healed on the Sabbath. To the spiritually in tune, this would signal that He was holy and of God. Then Jesus instructed the man to carry his bed, which was contrary to the nit-picky Pharisee rules, but which was within the spirit of the law of the Sabbath. If the Pharisees could accept that someone who broke the nit-picky rules also did a miraculous healing, that would indicate to them their rules were unnecessary. (Unfortunately they didn’t get it.)
“Sin no more, lest a worse thing come unto thee” -- Jesus was warning not merely of a repeat of the infirmity that might come upon him, but speaking spiritually of spiritual prison in the hereafter and not just spiritual impotence if he didn’t repent, but spiritual death. Jesus meant for the miraculous healing to teach about His power to save from crippling sin.
To me, this story teaches me about how we need to ACT for ourselves. Specifically, for everyone of us who want to be free of sin, we have to choose to ACT. We can’t be forgiven if we don’t take the first step of seeking forgiveness.
I’m the music leader in primary right now and we’ve been learning a song called “As a Child of God” and the lyrics have a great message about the power that we have in our lives.
I came to earth with power to choose
Good choices bless me and my family too
As a child of God I receive special light,
The Holy Ghost helps me to know what is right.
That idea that I am born with the power to choose and my choices can bless me and my family has rolled around and around my mind this month and has spurred me to act and choose in ways that I know will lead to improvement (healing) in my character.
How have you been healed of impotence by ACTing?