Now in Jerusalem by the Sheep Gate there is a pool, called in Hebrew Beth-zatha, which has five porticoes. In these lay many invalids—blind, lame, and paralyzed. One man was there who had been ill for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him lying there and knew that he had been there a long time, he said to him, “Do you want to be made well?” 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 making my way, someone else steps down ahead of me.” Jesus said to him, “Stand up, take your mat and walk.” At once the man was made well, and he took up his mat and began to walk. -John 5:2-9 NRSV
Does it not break your heart that this man suffered with an illness for thirty-eight years? Are you not moved by compassion when you hear of stories like this one? Like many today, this man was beat down and had no one to help him. Loneliness, the long struggle of waiting to be whole, consumed this man and so many who suffer with chronic illness.
The words "I have no one" should haunt us and cause compassion to rise within each of us. Would that our mission would be one of seeking out the lonely and those who have battling for so long all by themselves. Perhaps this is the sort of love that would make a difference? Maybe our friendship is the way lonely people would be made whole again.
Help us Lord to be a friend to those who suffer. Give us hearts to befriend the lonely and the unlovable. Amen.
... this devotion is part of an ongoing series on the Gospel of John.