A Victim’s Mentality

John 5:7 “Sir,” the invalid replied, “I have no one to help me into the pool when the water is stirred. While I am trying to get in, someone else goes down ahead of me.” 8 Then Jesus said to him, “Get up! Pick up your mat and walk.” 

What is a Victim’s Mentality?  It is an acquired personality trait in which a person tends to recognize or consider themselves as a victim of the negative actions of others, and to behave as if this were the case in the face of contrary evidence of such circumstances.  Here we have a familiar bible story that shows Jesus healing a man in the book of John.  I truly believe that Jesus healed this man then so that He can continue to heal the mentality of many men and women today.

Now it is interesting that of all of the weeks that I would be tackling this topic it would be a week where three young business owners had the police called on them for working out in the gym they have membership; a bird watcher who had the police called on him for asking a lady to put a leash on her dog in a city park; and George Floyd who was killed in broad daylight by 4 cops (3 of which kneeled on his body to pin him down, even though he did not fight back; and 1 cop put his knee on Floyd’s neck until the man died).  In each case the victim was black, and it continues to highlight the extraordinary list of injustices and unfair treatment that so many people, specifically black people, have experienced.  Why is this interesting, especially with regard to this verse?

The man who was highlighted in this verse with Jesus was an invalid; a person made weak or disabled by illness or injury.  This man had been an invalid for some time, One who was there had been an invalid for thirty-eight years (John 5:5).  38 years of his life had been spent with a disability; an inability to live a normal life.  In this case the inability to walk into the pool, where numerous people would go to get healed.  There are groups of people that have been made weak or disabled by systematic oppression within legal government processes and procedures.  Injustices like this produces a group of people that become victims to the systems.  However, some of these victims live life with an invalid or victim mentality because of wrongdoing by others or have otherwise suffered misfortune through no fault of their own.  Many are left feeling helpless and even unable to overcome the above-mentioned obstacles; yet it does not have to be that way.  Jesus stepped in to change the mentality of the invalid and I believe the mentality of many people today, who feel that they have become nothing more than victims.

  1. We Have Help: the invalid replied, “I have no one to help me into the pool when the water is stirred. The disabled man lived life feeling that he had no one to help him.  He needed somebody to fight for him but there was no one.  This man felt that his uphill battle was being fought alone, and like many people, when the hill you must climb seems improbable, the easiest was to attack it is NOT to.  This disabled man felt like so many underrepresented people feel today; like their fair shot in life is an unscalable mountain.  Unfortunately, the people who feel like this invalid did, think they only have two options to quit or fight.  The problem most run into is that the first option is the easiest and the second one, if not executed effectively can be extremely dangerous.  Many people across this country right now are protesting another senseless police killing of an unarmed black man.  What began as an effective fight, protesting the actions of 4, has turned into the dangerous rioting.  Which is what happens when the anger and frustration of injustice boils over.  Yet in this text, the disabled man rather than fighting, chose to quit, as he laid daily at this Bethesda pool.  It was believed to be a healing pool, where a great number of disabled people used to lie—the blind, the lame, the paralyzed in order to be healed.For 38 years he was helpless but on this sabbath day, his help would arrive.  Jesus came to Jerusalem and was given information about this man and was moved.  Jesus then raised a question to the disabled man that would forever change his life.  When Jesus saw him lying there and learned that he had been in this condition for a long time, he asked him, “Do you want to get well?”  Jesus was the help that the invalid needed and Jesus is also the help we need.  Whenever we feel helpless; our help can be found if we look up (Psalm 121:1 I will lift up my eyes to the hills– From whence comes my help? My help comes from the Lord).  The invalid was lying near the pool and when he LOOKED UP, there he saw Jesus, the help he longed for.  Jesus asked him, a question that every victim must answer if they want to truly break free (Do you want to get well?).  Are you a victim?  Do you want to get well?   Jesus is here to help.
  2. We Have Healing: While I am trying to get in, someone else goes down ahead of me. It was believed that if the water of the pool was stirred (agitate, disturb or disrupt), then physical healing would take place.  So much so that many people needing healing would basically camp out around that pool waiting for it to be agitated.  The disabled man would soon find out that his healing would require a disruption to life as he’s known it.  Like many, this invalid placed his hope, faith and future in this healing pool or in the “things” of this world, rather than placing our trust and hope in Jesus.  Jesus showed up for this man, without him asking or seeking Jesus.  The text says that Jesus sought out the disabled man, Jesus saw him lying there and learned that he had been in this condition for a long time.  Can I tell you that Jesus sees you, your situation and your future; He knows your condition and not only does He know it…but He knew it…over 2000 years ago when He took numerous lashes from the Cat-O-Nine Tails which ripped His skin apart.  He knew you and yet still “by His stripes we are healed” (Isaiah 53).  Because Jesus was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, we are made completely healthy and whole.  Jesus is our healing, just as He was the disabled man’s healing; because He took upon Himself all our weaknesses, frailties and diseases.  Whatever it is we need, Jesus’ strips confirm for us that we have Healing.

We Have a Hero: 8 Then Jesus said to him, “Get up! Pick up your mat and walk.” 9 At once the man was cured; he picked up his mat and walked.  Like any great movie, the rise and success of the Hero is instrumental to the storyline.  In the best stories, the Hero of the story is a surprise to all watching.  The story of the healing at the Bethesda pool is no different; the Hero of this story is a surprise.  The Hero in your story will also be a surprise.  Jesus came to one of the Jewish festivals, as he normally did.  He saw this man and had compassion on him, asked the man what he wanted and then declared to this disabled man, “Get up! Pick up your mat and walk.”  Jesus has said this same thing to me before, Get up!  Just like this man, I was not in the position that Jesus desired for me (Jeremiah 29:11…I know the thoughts that I think toward you…).  Jesus does not want us disabled, despondent or disappointed; His desire is for us to live His abundant life.  Jesus told the man to Get up! Pick up your mat and walk.  Here is where the Hero of the story stepped in.  I know what you’re saying, how dare you say anyone, but Jesus is the Hero.  And of course, Jesus is greater than any Superhero we’ve seen in any movie.  But I beseech you, ask Jesus yourself “who is the Hero of this story.”  The invalid with the victim mentality, who believed nobody would ever help him, stepped into the Hero role.  He heard Jesus; then acted.  Jesus did not touch his body; grab his hand and pick him up; spit in the dirt and rub it on his eyes or anything like that.  Jesus simply spoke.  Then the dysfunctional man got up from his disability; the bible says At once the man was cured; he picked up his mat and walked.  Jesus spoke healing but the man had to have the Faith to believe and have the Courage to act on that belief.  Jesus’ stripes healed us over 2000 years ago and we’ve been told of our healing for a long time, but like this invalid, we have to Believe God, then with Courage act on His Word!  When we do this; we become the Hero or our story just as Jesus planned.

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