If you're a member of the human race, you know what it's like to be broken to some degree, whether spiritually, emotionally, or physically. But did you know that one of the reasons Jesus came to this earth was to heal the brokenhearted (see Luke 4:18)? God loves broken people.
John 5 shows us a man who was broken. He had been afflicted with some sort of debilitating illness for thirty-eight years (see v. 5). And Jesus found him at the pool of Bethesda with "a great multitude of sick people, blind, lame, paralyzed, waiting for the moving of the water" (v. 3).
All these people were waiting for a subterranean spring to bubble up, believing it was the work of an angel that would bring healing. But this man's infirmity kept him from getting into the pool in time. And he had gotten up every single day for decades to the same reality, so that his helplessness had spiraled downward into hopelessness.
So how did Jesus approach and love this broken man? First, He observed him compassionately. Verse 6 says that "Jesus saw him lying there." Out of this huge, miserable crowd, Jesus zeroed in on one guy. Loving the broken begins with how we see the broken. Do you view broken people as an inconvenience? Or do you view them with compassion, like Jesus did (see Matthew 9:36)?
Jesus also interacted honestly. He asked the man, "Do you want to be made well?" (v. 6). That sounds cruel, but it was actually appropriate. Jesus "knew that he already had been in that condition a long time" (v. 6). A change in his condition would mean a whole different life with different responsibilities.
The third thing Jesus did was expect adversity. After healing the man, Jesus withdrew from the crowd (see v. 13). He knew that showing this kind of love and compassion has consequences. One consequence is that you'll be misunderstood—sometimes by the very person you're trying to help. But that shouldn't hold you back from loving them.
After Jesus healed this man, He found him in the temple and said, "See, you have been made well. Sin no more, lest a worse thing come upon you" (v. 14). What could possibly be worse than thirty-eight years of brokenness? Eternal suffering because of unrepentant sin. Though the disease had taken the best years of this man's life away, unrepentant sin would take his eternity away.
Jesus talked to this man in this way because He loved him. And loving the broken means preaching the unbroken gospel. At some point, if you care for a person, you will care for that person's soul.
I pray that the Lord would break our hearts over the things that break His heart and that we would be drawn to love those who are broken. It's not easy. It can be embarrassing. We will be misunderstood. But it reflects so much the heart of Jesus, who acted on the brokenness He saw. I pray that the Lord would also help us care for a person's soul enough to tell them how to get from earth to heaven, that they might find forgiveness and the joy of eternal life.