“Now there is at Jerusalem by the sheep market a pool, which is called in the Hebrew tongue Bethesda, having five porches” (John 5:2).
The pool of Bethesda was said to have a special power to heal the sick. People in Jesus’ time believed that an angel would sometimes trouble the water there and whoever jumped into the water first would be healed of any disease they had (John 5:3-4). This may have just been a legend or folklore that people believed in desperation to find relief from their disease. In any case, neither an angel nor any troubled water were responsible for healing in this story.
The man who was healed at the pool of Bethesda is said to have an infirmity which is an illness or weakness for 38 years. This man desperately wanted to find healing and tried repeatedly to be the first to jump into the supposed healing waters at Bethesda.
Jesus saw this man and had compassion on him. Jesus knew that only He was able to heal and give true relief. He asked the man “wilt thou be made whole?” (vs. 6). Jesus knew the desires of the man’s heart, but asked the question in order to get to the root of the man’s problem. Instead of saying a resounding Yes, the man responds, “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” (John 5:7).
The true nature of this man’s problem was that he was looking for healing water in the world that could not really cure him. He thought what he needed was a physical person to help him attain this healing. Jesus wanted to show him that what he really needed was the Son of Man who could give healing of both body and soul (Isaiah 55).
Jesus simply tells the man to “rise, take up your bed and walk” (Vs. 8). When Jesus spoke the word, the man was made whole and obeyed Jesus’ command (Vs. 9). This is an important lesson to all those who desire true healing. Jesus alone can heal and restore us. We should look to God as our solution in all things (Proverbs 3:5-6). It is also a lesson in faith. While Jesus made the man whole, he had to believe that he was healed in order to obey Jesus’ commands. Faith is taking God at his word (Galatians 3:6-7). We must believe and act on the promises of God to see the results in our lives. If we want to be forgiven, we can have this assurance no matter how we feel (1 John 1:9). If we want assurance of salvation, we can know that we have it by faith in His promise (Titus 1:2).
Jesus later finds the man in the temple and tells him to “sin no more, lest a worse thing come unto thee” (Vs. 14). This is a solemn warning to those who receive the healing, physical or spiritual, from God. Jesus desires those who follow Him to keep His commandments, as sin is the breaking of His law (1 John 3:4, John 14:15). Jesus gives this warning out of love to this man to prevent any worse suffering. So it is with all of God’s children. He desires those who have experienced His healing to keep the things that we have heard and live out a life of obedience to Him by faith (Hebrews 10:38).
The miracle at the pool of Bethesda was not only the physical healing of this sick man’s body but healing of the sin-sick soul. May we find true healing in the only Man, Christ Jesus, who can give us healing water to restore our souls. “… And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely” (Revelation 22:17).
In His service,