The fifth chapter of John describes a wonderful healing by Christ Jesus that took place at the pool of Bethesda. One of the valuable lessons we can learn from this account relates to our individual right to be master rather than victim of circumstances.
The pool was located near the sheep market, and was believed to have marvelous therapeutic powers - but only under certain conditions. As the Scripture explains, ''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.'' n1
n1 John 5:4.
It's not surprising, then, that so many needy ones - the lame, the blind, the sick - hovered about the pool waiting for that moment of healing. One man had been waiting a very long time. John records that his particular infirmity had lasted thirty-eight years. The account continues: ''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? 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.'' n2
n2 John 5:6, 7.
What a familiar ring his explanation has! How many of us remain by some modern-day pool of Bethesda, waiting for the right break, the golden opportunity , the favorable circumstance, the magic timing that will enable us to attain some desired position or cherished goal? And as we continue to wait in vain, we rationalize our failure. Why, it's all because we don't have the important contacts, know the right people, have the necessary support - and so others get there before us, receive what rightfully should be ours.
What was the Master's response to the man at the pool of Bethesda? It was a rousing, healing response: ''Jesus saith unto him, Rise, take up thy bed, and walk.'' n3 He might have been saying in effect: ''Stop waiting for circumstances to change. Stop depending on others to help you or believing that others can hinder you. Lift your thought to God as the source and Giver of all good. Accept that good. Realize your present spiritual perfection as the very image of God. Joyfully accept healing right now.''
n3 John 5:8.
Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, writes: ''Rise in the strength of Spirit to resist all that is unlike good. God has made man capable of this, and nothing can vitiate the ability and power divinely bestowed on man.'' n4 Because God has conferred dominion on His creation, we can resist fear, discouragement, inadequacy, failure; we can resist sin and disease. We can resist the devil - all the ''devilish'' thoughts that would besiege and limit us - and be receptive to the saving, healing Christ. The Christ reveals God's supremacy and our actual status as His indestructible spiritual likeness. The eternal Christ brings the light of God's healing power to both thought and experience.
n4 Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 393.
The response of the man in the Bible to the Christly command was acceptance and obedience. The account says simply, ''And immediately the man was made whole , and took up his bed, and walked.'' n5 A view of lack and competition, of only so much good to go around, had given way somewhat to a spiritual view of the universe as governed by God, wherein each individual is lovingly provided for and perfectly placed.
n5 John 5:9.
The number 7 can't take the place of 6 or crowd out 8. In truth, no one can take our unique place. There is always room and opportunity for each offspring of God, and a grateful affirmation of this fact frees us from fear of competition or failure. It enables us to be receptive of good and alert to divine direction, as was the man in the Bible story.
If we today have the same receptivity to the Christ, which is always encouraging us to go higher, to look to spiritual instead of material solutions for our problems, then we too will rejoice in quick strides of progress. It certainly beats waiting at Bethesda! DAILY BIBLE VERSE Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children . . . Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light. Ephesians 5:1, 14