No Friends

[5] One man was there who had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. [6] When Jesus saw him lying there and knew that he had already been there a long time, he said to him, “Do you want to be healed?” [7] 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.” —John 5: 5-7

This is probably one of the saddest passages in the Bible. A man has been paralyzed for 38 years and he was hoping to be miraculously healed in the pool of Bethesda. According to some Bible manuscripts, “from time to time an angel of the Lord would come down and stir up the waters. The first one into the pool after each such disturbance would be cured of whatever disease he had.”

The problem was that there was no one to throw him to the pool when the water is stirred. The guy was there for 38 years and he never even made any friends, not even some who simply had to push him to the edge and probably watch him drown.

Contrast this with the paralytic who was carried through the roof by four of his friends just so he could get near Jesus. These four guys must have cared a lot for this sick man that they were willing to get arrested for destroying private property in order for their friend to be prayed over by the Master. Mark 2: 2-4 tells the story:

“And many were gathered together, so that there was no more room, not even at the door. And he was preaching the word to them. [3] And they came, bringing to him a paralytic carried by four men. [4] And when they could not get near him because of the crowd, they removed the roof above him, and when they had made an opening, they let down the bed on which the paralytic lay.”

Both people could not walk, they both needed other people to take care of them. Their only difference is that one had close friends, the other, zero.

We don’t need anybody to tell us the moral of these stories.