The Healing of an Invalid at the Pool of Bethesda


In our daily meditations we are focusing on the supernatural power of the Lord Jesus when He walked among us. Today, we look at the healing of an invalid:


1Some time later, Jesus went up to Jerusalem for a feast of the Jews. 2Now there is in Jerusalem near the Sheep Gate a pool, which in Aramaic is called Bethesda and which is surrounded by five covered colonnades. 3Here a great number of disabled people used to lie—the blind, the lame, the paralyzed. 5One who was there had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. 6When 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?" 7"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." 8Then Jesus said to him, "Get up! Pick up your mat and walk." 9At once the man was cured; he picked up his mat and walked (John 5:1-8).


The apostle John writes of a pool near the Sheep Gate on the north side of Jerusalem called Bethesda. He describes a scene of total misery with a “great number” of people just lying there. How many would constitute a great number? More than a hundred, do you think? They were all as close to the water’s edge as they could get, cramped and huddled together, desperately waiting for any movement of the water. As you will notice from the passage written above, verse 4 of the New International Version of the English language is taken out—I do not know why. In the King James Version, verse four says, 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” (John 5:4 KJV).


From the description in the KJV, the healing of anyone gathered around the pool was dependent on how quickly they got into the water after ripples appeared on the surface. Perhaps the desperate faith they had that God would heal in this way was the very reason they were healed. God answers desperate and faith-filled prayer. However, it does seem that after the water was stirred, only the first person in the water was healed. Some, like the invalid, would be at a severe disadvantage. If everything depended on how quick a person could get into the water when the ripples occurred, the closer a person was to the edge of the pool, the better their chance of getting healed.


In the middle of the degradation of the place, we read of Jesus visiting this mass of desperate humanity. The invalid had been in that condition for thirty-eight years (v. 5), and had no one to help him into the pool. The Father saw this man’s desperation and sent Jesus to help him. Only with Christ’s coming to him in grace, would he finally experience the healing mercy of God. The apostle John writes:


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?" (v. 6).


This man was looking for an angel to stir the water, when the Lord Jesus, God Incarnate, was there to minister to him personally, and still, he was asking for help into the water! Later on, when the man was asked who it was that healed him, he replied that he did not know. Scripture tells us that Jesus had “slipped away into the crowd.” Christ had been there "incognito," and as soon as the man was healed, Jesus departed (v. 13). This withdrawal by the Lord says a lot about His character. Jesus didn’t do miracles and healings for any reason other than to relieve the pain of hurting people and glorify the Father. The Lord didn’t even require faith in His true identity as the Son of God, for He didn’t tell him who He was.


Jesus told the man to do something impossible to him: "Get up! Pick up your mat and walk" (v. 11). He was instantly healed. Christ did not lay hands on him or even help him get up. Nothing! Imagine the scene. A word of command and healing was the result! The Scripture says, “At once the man was cured; he picked up his mat and walked” (v. 9). How kind the Lord is!


Taken from the more complete study found in the All Studies box on the Home Page. Click on the Gospel of John, and then the 10th study, The Healing at the Pool. Keith Thomas