At the Pool


Bible Store


The Healing at the Pool at Bethesda

    Now there is in Jerusalem near the Sheep Gate a pool, which in Aramaic is called Bethesda, and which is surrounded by five covered colonnades. Here a great number of disabled people used to lie - the blind, the lame, the paralyzed. One who was there had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him lying there and learned that he had been in this condition for a long time, he asked him, “Do you want to get well?”

    “Sir,” the invalid replied, “I have no one to help me into the pool when the water is stirred. While I am trying to get in, someone else goes down ahead of me.”

    Then Jesus said to him, “Get up! Pick up your mat and walk.” At once the man was cured; he picked up his mat and walked. -- John 5:2-9

The authenticity of this passage are in dispute, particularly verse 4. The NIV handles it by going right from verse 3 to verse 5, including verse 4 in a footnote, as follows:

    Some manuscripts paralyzed - and they waited for the moving of the waters; some less important manuscripts continue From time to time an angel of the Lord would come down and stir up the waters. The first one into the pool after each such disturbance would be cured of whatever disease he had.

Some have alleged that the fourth verse is not sufficiently authenticated, and dispute the passage about the angel going down to the pool to agitate the waters, or instead attribute supernatural qualities to the waters. Others have speculated that the pool was a mineral spring. Perhaps it is safer simply to take the text as it reads, and accept that the pool at Bethesda was thought to have healing effects.

For the convenience of the sick, five porches had been built where they could gather together and prepare for their turn in the healing waters.

What occurred after this miraculous healing?

    The day on which this took place was a Sabbath, and so the Jews said to the man who had been healed, “It is the Sabbath; the law forbids you to carry your mat.”

    But he replied, “The man who made me well said to me, ‘Pick up your mat and walk’”

    So they asked him, “Who is this fellow who told you to pick it up and walk?”

    The man who was healed had no idea who it was, for Jesus had slipped away into the crowd that was there.

    Later Jesus found him at the temple and said to him, “See, you are well again. Stop sinning or something worse may happen to you.”

    The man went away and told the Jews that it was Jesus who had made him well. -- John 5:9-15

That pool, with its healing qualities, might typify the fountain which can wash away sin and uncleanness; but with these significant differences:

  • The Bethesda pool was local, and for the benefit of the inhabitants of Jerusalem chiefly; while the Gospel pool is equally near and accessible to everyone everywhere
  • The Bethesda pool was only available occasionally; while the Gospel pool is always powerful and open all the time
  • The Bethesda pool healed only the first who plunged into it; while the Gospel pool saves any who so desire

But lets get back to the Bethesda pool, and the healing miracle that Christ performed there.

The sufferer

His affliction is not specified, except to say that he had been an invalid for a long period of time. We know only that his affliction was:

  • Great
    • Unable to walk
    • Unable even to rise without help
  • Long standing
    • 38 years
    • More than one generation
  • Accompanied by human neglect
    • Appears to be friendless
    • Relatives may have all died
  • Subject of many disappointments
    • While I am trying to get in, someone else goes down ahead of me
    • He had watched other go in and be healed, but he was never able to do so himself

The question posed to him by Christ

  • Do you want to get well?
    • Wasn’t the answer obvious?
    • While it would seem to be obvious that everyone is desirous of salvation, many do not ask.

Christ’s pronouncement

  • Get up! Pick up your mat and walk
    • An instantaneous cure
    • Jesus spoke, and it was done
    • Mercy and compassion for the sufferer
    • Performed in public
    • Indisputable cure

The warning given by Christ

  • Stop sinning or something worse may happen to you
    • It is reasonable to assume, from this, that his infirmity had been the direct effect of some sin in his life
    • While we can presume that not all disease is a result of sin, it is fair to say that some disease is a result of sin

Overview of Bible Study