I don’t know if I would have lingered at the poolside as long as one gentleman did while he waited at the Pool of Bethesda for healing from a crippling condition that had afflicted him for thirty-eight years. Bible scholars believe the man’s infirmity was paralysis of at least half of his body, possibly from a stroke or palsy.
A supernatural healing virtue occurred every so often at the Pool of Bethesda when an angel stirred the waters of the pool, and those who were able to make it into the water were often healed—especially the first ones into the water.
Perhaps the man had been lying by the pool for all thirty-eight years; we’re not told. His limbs were not functioning normally, so unless someone helped him into the pool, he could not even crawl into the waters of healing. Here’s the account from John 5:1-9 (NKJV):
After this, there was a feast of the Jews, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. Now there is in Jerusalem by the Sheep Gate a pool, which is called in Hebrew, Bethesda, having five porches. In these lay a great multitude of sick people, blind, lame, paralyzed, waiting for the moving of the water. 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. Now a certain man was there who had an infirmity thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him lying 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?"
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."
Jesus said to him, "Rise, take up your bed, and walk." And immediately, the man was made well, took up his bed, and walked.
It’s possible the man at the Pool of Bethesda was homeless and lived by the Pool. There were so many other sick people—a great multitude, the scripture says—but Jesus noticed this man, singled him out, and asked, “Do you want to be made well?”. The Lord knew how long the man had been afflicted. He knew everything about the man, even how many times he may have tried to crawl into the water but had been pushed out of the way or trampled on.
“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,” the disabled man replied to Jesus. Imagine the despair he felt being ignored and repeatedly pushed away from the pool.
I never won at musical chairs. When the music stopped, I surrendered an available chair to anyone who bullied, pushed, or shoved his way onto the chair, and I was left standing. I wasn’t fighting for my life as the man at the Pool of Bethesda was, but I understand how defeated and humiliated he felt. I only lost a chair and a game; his physical suffering lasted endless days, weeks, and years.
Then along came Jesus. He didn’t need a pool, stirred-up water, or anything to heal the disabled man! He required a willing heart (sadly, some people do not want to be healed) and obedience to His instruction of “Rise, take up your bed, and walk.” How remarkable that immediately the man was made well!
But it didn’t stop there. Several verses later, we are told that 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" (verse 14). Not only did Jesus care about the man’s physical condition, but He also cared about his spiritual condition.
Apparently, after their conversation in the temple, the man came to know that Jesus healed him because verse 15 says the man departed and told the Jews that it was Jesus who had made him well.
Jesus made me well more than a few times. I waited sixteen years before being healed of multiple sclerosis. I have been symptom-free for seventeen years, and there are no lesions or plaques in my brain consistent with that debilitating disease. A doctor told me there’s nothing in my brain that shouldn’t be! The Lord sovereignly and powerfully lifted the illness from me.
A willing heart and obedience. Would you give Jesus that if He singled you out to be healed of a long-standing disease or disability? He wants our highest good--body, soul, and spirit. John writes, Beloved, I pray that in all respects you may prosper and be in good health just as your soul prospers (3 John 1:2 NASB).
He’s still healing. Never give up, no matter how long you’ve been sick. He heals in so many ways and tells us, “I am the Lord, your Healer” (Exodus 15:26).
© 2023 Chris Werre