Encounter: Read John 5:1-16 in the New International Reader's Version and another version of your choice. Then watch this scene from The Chosen Season 2 Episode 4. Jesus Heals At The Pool
Over season 1 and so far in season 2 of The Chosen, we’ve seen several miracles: water changed to wine at a wedding, feeding thousands of people with just 5 loaves and 2 fish, healing a leper, and in this episode, healing a paralyzed man. Some would say that miracles don’t happen. Water doesn’t spontaneously change into wine. You can’t feed thousands of people with just 5 loaves and 2 fish. And they’re right! Almost. You can’t. I can’t. But God. But God! In the beginning, God. Paralyzed people don’t just get up and walk. But God had other plans. And people don’t rise from the dead after being crucified either. But God had other plans. Miracles are not a problem for God. God created the universe.
Episode 4 begins by giving the backstory of the paralyzed man. How did he get paralyzed? An injury? From birth? We don’t know. We do know this. He had a backstory. He had parents. Probably brothers and sisters. Aunts, uncles, and cousins. Was he married? Any kids? And friends. He probably had friends. Like the man who was lowered through the roof to see Jesus, he probably had friends. And things happened in his life to bring him to where he was when Jesus found him.
You and I have a backstory too. We are not so different from this paralyzed man. We have parents, siblings, extended family, friends. And things have happened in your life and mine that brought us to this point. What is your backstory?
The Chosen gives us a possible, and plausible, backstory for the man that Jesus healed. He fell from a tree as a child and was injured. Little boys like to climb trees and don’t often think about what could go wrong. That hasn’t changed. We have hospitals and surgeons and a lot more medical knowledge today, but sometimes injuries cannot be repaired. Think of Christopher Reeve. Or Charles Krauthammer.
In the episode, his mother died giving birth to his brother. So he grew up without a mother. As a young man, his brother went off to join the zealots who were terrorizing the Roman occupiers. His father may have died, too. Life expectancy was short then compared to today. So he may have been feeling alone, maybe even abandoned.
So here he is at the pool. He has been here for a long time, years. So long that hope is gone or close to it. So long that he isn’t sure any more why he is here. Is there healing in the pool?
Jesus arrives at the pool. The scene is one of desperation, discouragement, and despair. Yet there is some hope, some faith that they can be healed, if they just get into the pool at the right time.
Jesus walks over to the paralyzed man. “I have a question for you. Do you want to be healed?”
Man: “I’m having a really bad day.”
Jesus: “You’ve been having a bad day for a long time.”
Man: “I have no one to help me into the water when it is stirred up and when I do get close the others step down in front of me.”
Jesus: “Look at me. That’s not what I asked. I’m not asking you about who’s helping you and who’s not helping and who’s getting in your way.”
Man: “I’ve tried.”
Jesus: “For a long time, I know. ...this pool, it has nothing for you. It means nothing and you know it. You don’t need this pool. You only need me. So, do you want to be healed?”
Jesus: “Let’s go. Get up, pick up your mat and walk.”
Immediately, the man has sensation in his legs. He hasn’t felt like that in 38 years. He stands up rejoicing as Jesus walks away quietly. Peter reminds him to pick up his bed, which he does, but he asks Peter why that is important.
Peter: “Because you’re not coming back here. That life is over.”
Reflect: What is your backstory? Who were the people that played a role in your life? What events or circumstances shaped you into who you are today? This is part of your EPIC journey. I encourage you to schedule a time with your EPIC coach to begin exploring your story.
Encourage: Maybe Jesus is asking you, “Do you want to be healed?” Maybe physical healing. Maybe healing your marriage. Maybe an addiction to alcohol, drugs, or pornography. Maybe someone has hurt you and it is eating you up inside. Whatever it is, Jesus is saying “Look at me. I’m all you need.”
Gather: Using the Discussion questions for Episode 2 on the Eden Church website, share your thoughts and reflections, how this episode shifted your perspective about the characters, about Jesus and yourself. What do you sense Jesus wants you to see through this scripture and the stories being told?