Returning to John 5 – we saw in verse 6 Jesus asked a strange question, in verse 7 the man responds:
5:7a The sick man answered Him,
5:7b “Sir, I have no man to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up,
5:7c but while I am coming, another steps down before me.”
Observations by phrase
Up to this point in the story the focus has been on Christ. Now the focus shifts to the man. In order to respond he has to personally engage with Christ. He could have ignored the question. You and I have been asked questions that we thought were stupid. It would not be too big a stretch for the man to have thought, “What the heck does this dude mean, ‘Do I wish to well?’ I wonder why he thinks I am lying here.” The man does not know Jesus, he could have thought he was being mocked. But instead, he engages.
The man’s answer focused on what he thought he needed to do to get well. Looking at the literary structure complex instrumentation is in play here. Instrumentation describes the means as well as the end of an outcome. The end is getting well. There are two means, the ultimate is to get into the water when it is stirred before someone else. The primary is the need for one to help him get to the water. He has no one, therefore, he has no hope of getting to the end. The implied contrast is even though I have no means, regardless I am here every day. This sets up Jesus’ next action in an interesting way. The man has no one to help him, Jesus is that man.
The man shares the ultimate failure of what he is trusting for healing. The hopelessness of trying to deal with his condition on his own. He is continually unable to get to the end he desires. He is telling Jesus that what he is doing is not working – and without saying so, if his situation does not change, never will.
Note that nothing the man says answers Jesus’ question, “Do you wish to get well?” The man just explains what he has been trying to do. But, on another level, he has come to a necessary realization to which all who come to Christ must also eventually arrive. There is nothing that we can do, no means that will result in the end of fixing all of our problems. The longer we try, the longer we think we can, the further away from the real solution we drift.
Tomorrow, John 5:8.
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