The Pool of Bethesda

The Bethesda Pool of Mercy

The Pool of Bethesda was located on the eastern side of the city near the Fortress of Antonia. The name Bethesda means "house of mercy."The water source was a nearby spring. The Pool had five porches and according to the Bible there was a tradition that an angel moved the waters at certain times and healed the sick. It was here at the Pool of Bethesda that Jesus healed the man who was lame for thirty-eight years. Recent archaeological discoveries have again confirmed the Biblical account, that there were five porches and the fifth one divided the rectangular pool into two separate compartments. Josephus wrote about the Pool of the Sheep-market.

Archaeological remains of Herod's Jerusalem are scarce. The Romans did a thorough work of destroying everything. We know about Herod and his buildings through the writings of Josephus, Strabo, Dio Cassius, Jewish Literature, archaeology and the Bible.

The Roman Legions of Titus destroyed Jerusalem in 70 AD. They spared only Herod's powerful tower fortress as a symbol of the strength of the Romans who were able to overpower it.

"After this there was a feast of the Jews; and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. Now there is at Jerusalem by the sheep market a pool, which is called in the Hebrew tongue Bethesda, having five porches. In these lay a great multitude of impotent folk, of blind, halt, withered, waiting for the moving of the water. For an angel went down at a certain season into the pool, and troubled the water: whosoever then first after the troubling of the water stepped in was made whole of whatsoever disease he had. And a certain man was there, which had an infirmity thirty and eight years. When Jesus saw him lie, and knew that he had been now a long time in that case, he saith unto him, Wilt thou be made whole? The impotent man answered him, 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. Jesus saith unto him, Rise, take up thy bed, and walk. And immediately the man was made whole, and took up his bed, and walked"
- John 5:1-9

Heart Message

The Healing at the Pool of Bethesda

Do you want to be healed?

He cannot walk. There are no wheelchairs. The pool is not ADA compliant. There is only the mercy of others. Perhaps family members carry him to the Bethesda pool in the morning, and pick him up at evening. The charity of others may come to this house of mercy with a few coins or bread to share. Day after day, year after year, he shares stories with those who suffer alongside hoping to win the angelic healing lottery one day.

But this is his lucky day! The Son of God enters that jail cell and asks, "Do you want to be healed?" God doesn't ask us questions because he lacks information. The question is a gift to lead our thoughts in the right direction. Possibly the healing brings with it a price that should be considered. Lets try to unpack this question by asking it in a different way.

"Do you want to leave all of your dependencies? Do you want to work all day? Do you want to leave behind all excuses and take on the full responsibility of life? Many of our desperate prayers to God have a price in their answer. This Scripture can apply not only to those with physical disabilities, but all of our emotional and spiritual ones as well. Jesus asks us all, "Wilt thou be made whole?" Do you really want the new and harder job, or is it more convenient to complain about money? Do you want to leave loneliness behind, and take on the joy and responsibility of a relationship with a person who will heal the isolation, but also force us to altar our selfish lifestyle?

There are the many stories of alcoholics whose enduring spouses lived years hoping for change. But surprisingly when the alcoholics were healed by turning their lives over to God through A.A and the 12 Steps, many of their spouses experienced a crash of their own. They built their lives around the dysfunction, how do they live without it? No more can they blame their own mood swings on someone else, the co-dependent must now accept that they too are a sinner, and have their own character defects to overcome. Alanon was formed by the spouses of Alcoholics and now exists for anyone who is suffering from dealing with an alcoholic.

When we ask God for healing in any area of our lives, we are really asking for bigger problems to solve. A 10 year old boy might solve the need for a newspaper on the front step in the morning. Hopefully when he is 30 he is solving bigger problems, like how to provide for a family. And solving bigger problems, brings bigger joy. Let's ask God to challenge us, to help us to take up our mats, burn our bridges of dependency and walk forward solving greater and greater problems for as many people as He allows, for as long as He allows.

Yes Lord, I want to be healed!

John 5:2 - Now there is at Jerusalem by the sheep [market] a pool, which is called in the Hebrew tongue Bethesda, having five porches.

Psalms 123:2 - Behold, as the eyes of servants [look] unto the hand of their masters, [and] as the eyes of a maiden unto the hand of her mistress; so our eyes [wait] upon the LORD our God, until that he have mercy upon us.

Psalms 31:7 - I will be glad and rejoice in thy mercy: for thou hast considered my trouble; thou hast known my soul in adversities;

Also see:
Sketch of 1st Century Jerusalem
Josephus Description of Jerusalem