Thirty-eight years had passed, and nothing had changed. How long had it been since he’d heard the stories about the pool at Bethesda? And how long had it been since they’d first brought him there?
He’d heard how the waters could heal. All he had to do was wait for them to stir and be the first one there. Surely he could manage that. So, full of hope and expectation, he’d convinced those who cared for him most to bring him there. Maybe they’d stayed with him a while, waiting for the waters to stir, ready to do whatever it took to make sure he was the first one in the pool. But eventually they’d had to leave to tend to their work and families—the many responsibilities of everyday life. Maybe he’d been optimistic about it at first. He’d manage. But how many times had the waters stirred since? And how many times had he done all he could to be the first one there only for someone to beat him to it? Still, what else could he do? So he lay there waiting.
It was the Sabbath—a holy day of rest for the Jews. Maybe it had become an especially welcomed day for him. Hope, it turns out, requires its own kind of labor to sustain. But on the Sabbath, he didn’t have to work. Not at anything. In fact, the Jews forbade it. So of all the days he might have hoped something would change, he couldn’t have thought it would happen then. Not on that day. Not on the Sabbath, the seventh day, the day God Himself rested after creating the universe.