Beside the Pool on the Sabbath
After this there was a feast of the Jews and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. 2 Now there is in Jerusalem by the Sheep Gate a pool, which is called in Hebrew Bethesda, having five porches. 3 In these lay a great multitude of sick people, blind, lame, paralyzed, waiting for the moving of the water. 4 For an angel went down at a certain time into the pool and stirred up the water; then whoever stepped in first, after the stirring of the water, was made well of whatever disease he had. 5 Now a certain man was there who had an infirmity thirty-eight years. 6 When Jesus saw him laying there, and knew that he already had been in that condition a long time, He said to him, “Do you want to be made well?”
7 The sick man answered Him, “Sir, I have no man to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up; but while I am coming, another steps down before me.”
8 Jesus said to him, “Rise take up your bed and walk.” 9 And immediately the man took up his bed, and walked.
And that day was the Sabbath. 10 The Jews therefore said to him who was cursed, “It is the Sabbath; it is not lawful for you to carry your bed.”
11 He answered them, “He who made me well said to me, “Take up your bed and walk.”
12 Then they asked him, “Who is the Man who said to you, ‘Take up your bed and walk’?” 13 But the one who was healed did not know who it was, for Jesus had withdrawn, a multitude being in that place. 14 Afterward Jesus found him in the temple., and said to him “see, you have been made well, Sin no more, lest a worse thing come upon you.”
15 The man departed and told the Jews that it was Jesus who had made him well.
On the road from Caesarea, a few kilometers from Jerusalem there is a fork in the road. When one took the left fork, it brought them toward Jerusalem by way of the pool of Bethesda. Just beyond was the Sheep Gate which lead to the temple mount and eventually to Herod’s Temple.
How fitting that Christ, the Lamb of God on the Sabbath would be entering Jerusalem by way of the sheep gate, but before he does, he is drawn to the pool of Bethesda.
All about were the lowly of humanity with their varied illness. I have tried to imagine what it must have been like, the stink of sickness all about coupled with the moans and groans of the sick, dying and infirmed. It was upon this scene besides the pool with its five porches, built for the protection of those that came seeking healing from the water.
The rippling of the water was real, but there is no certainty as to how this came about, but tradition was that angels caused the water to be moved. Yet there were some amongst those waiting to be healed that failed to believe in angels. Nevertheless, upon the rippling of the water, the first to enter into the pool was said to be healed. But here in was the problem, the stronger trampled upon the weak in their rush to reach the waters when they were agitated. Many died on the brink of the pool, trampled by the stampede.
Daily this poor crippled man came to the pool brought by his few acquaintances, but they would not stay to help him for they all had busy lives. Of course, there was no assurance that on any specific day the water would be moved. At the pool, the neediest were the least likely to benefit from its healing powers. Perhaps this is why it appeared Jesus chose the worst possible case in which to help.
Tradition stated that the first to reach the pool was to be healed but the gift of salvation is available equally to all, not just a select few, the strongest, or the quick, but rather to all.
By the pool this man sat friendless, for 38 long miserable years this cripple had sat daily waiting for the water to be agitated and for healing. Jesus sought him out, and asks: “Do you want to be healed?”
It was obvious the man wanted healing for daily he lay beside the pool, longing for healing. Yet, Jesus asks him, “Do you want to be healed?” The nature of the question was to turn the attention of this crippled man from what was most pressing in his life to Jesus, which is the cure for what troubles us.
He answered and said in reply: “I have no one to put me into the pool, when the water is stirred up.” The nature of this reply lays bare a story of physical misery, of desertion by friends, and of the repeated revival of hope, followed each time by bitter disappointment. His misery almost overshadowed the dim hope that he might be healed and certainly he failed to see within Jesus the promise of forgiveness and healing.
My friends, dare I ask the question, how many people are there in this world that are friendless, to the point of despair, who are looking for hope in a hopeless world. Are we too trampling upon the hopeless as we go about life?
In Matthew 25:31-46 Christ tells a parable regarding the final judgment. Within the story it says he will gather all together and separate the goats from the sheep. Let’s quickly examine what Christ says regarding the sheep. 33 And He will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left. 34 Then the King will say to those on his right, “Come you who are blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. 35 For I was hungry, and you gave me food, I was thirsty, and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, 36 I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.”
Christ is telling us that we are to become friends to the friendless, and care for them and feed them and clothe them. This would be both physically and spiritually.
This is what Christ came to do, to help the spiritually crippled and to show us the Father. This is what he is asking us to do as well, to show Christ to others, in the way that we speak and act.
Christ is the only cure for a world in despair. Therefore, Christ has asked his faithful followers to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, visit the sick and help relieve their suffering and visit those who are in prison, bringing them hope for a life better than they presently have. This is the hope we bring to others as Christ shines out from us, as we perform these works laying up for ourselves treasures in heaven.