“Some time later, Jesus went up to Jerusalem for a feast of the Jews. 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.”
Jesus was in Jerusalem for one of the three main feasts which all Jewish males were supposed to attend (Passover, Pentecost and the feast of Tabernacles). This Scripture focuses on the healing pool, Bethesda, by one of the gates of the city, and believed to be near the temple. (The site is identified today as the twin pools near the present day St Anne’s church).
The shelter by the pool was a place of refuge, built especially for those considered incurably sick – the blind, lame and paralyzed. The pool itself was said to be a place of miraculous divine intervention. It was believed that an angel regularly stirred up the waters in the pool, and at these times, whoever stepped quickly into the stirred waters was completely healed of any infirmity.
Jesus saw this man by the pool and approached him, knowing that he had been there for a long time – he had been an invalid for 38 years! The Lord asked him “Do you want to get well?” A strange question to ask a person who has been sick so long! However, Jesus probably saw that there were many there by the pool, who survived on the kind offerings of those who visited the place to bless the sick. Some of them lived on the charity of those who came to worship at the temple. It could also be that this man had been sick so long that his condition had become a part of his identity. After thirty eight years, sickness was more familiar to him than health – his discomfort was more ‘comfortable’ to him than anything else he could remember. He had grown accustomed to a level of pain and hardship; but God had something better and more beautiful for him! His latter years were to be far greater than his former ones!
“Bethesda” in Hebrew means “House of Mercy”, and as he lay by the pool of Bethesda, the Lord sought him out, from among all the many infirm who were there – Jesus came to the pool especially to minister to him! God’s mercy overflows towards His creation. It is His desire and will to heal and deliver the sick and suffering. But this miracle could only be manifested if the sick man wanted it too. When the Lord Jesus took 39 stripes upon His back for you and me, and His blood was shed at Calvary, He atoned for every sin, and every sickness. He paid a price we no longer have to pay! The Prophet Isaiah (53:4-5) wrote about the healing power of the Lamb of God: “Surely He took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered Him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted. But He was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by His wounds we are healed.” The miracle of God’s healing grace was already released over two thousand years ago, when the precious blood of His Son was shed as an all sufficient sacrifice for all humanity and for all time! By His stripes we were healed!
Jesus has already made the way! He calls us today to get serious about what we seek from Him – whether it is healing or any other miracle we need. It has already been released to us! The crippled man did not realize He was speaking to the source and fount of all healing and life, and the ultimate Helper and Savior he needed. He felt very sorry for himself, and poured out his tale of woe to Jesus, complaining that others pushed ahead of him into the healing waters when they were stirred, and that there was no one to help him. He really did not answer Jesus’ question!
The Lord was seeking to establish how serious he was about receiving his healing. For thirty eight years he had sat by the pool, surrounded by others no different to him and not in a position to help him. The days and months had come and gone, and each time the waters of Bethesda were supernaturally stirred by heavenly activity, he probably looked round to see if there was anybody who could help him in. After so many years, he surely should have figured out a way to be right at the edge of the pool to lever himself in when the waters started churning and frothing. All these years he had not been in the right place at the right time. He had not deliberately positioned himself to receive the miraculous healing God desired to pour into his life! It was as though he had an opportunity to be at a miracle crusade and receive the ministry of a healing evangelist but chose to stay at home instead.
Friend, as we approach the latter half of this year, I believe many of us are entering a season of change. God is getting ready to send angels to stir the waters. He is calling us to position ourselves for our miracle. Through the past few months you may have been crying out to God for His help, and it could be that all along, He has already released the potential for your blessing and is waiting for you to rise up and receive it in faith. Jesus heard the words of the crippled man but did not express sympathy. His very presence there was proof of His abounding mercy, and the compassion of His heart; He knew the love He had for this sick man. He knew the miracle that was to be received, and how long it had been there waiting for this man to stand up and take with both hands! Jesus wanted him to stop expecting his help to come from the finite human hands and resources around him.
Jesus already saw him as healed and whole! His miracle was already manifesting in the spiritual realm. As Jesus said “Get up! Pick up your mat and walk”, the man was healed. As he stirred and tried to lift his body up, his atrophied muscles were made new; his shriveled limbs were made whole; strength flowed through the lifeless legs that had been numb and felt like jelly as far back as he could remember! Suddenly he was standing up, stretching his back; he was able to bend over. The man who had been too weak to move, now had the strength to pick up the wasted mat he had lain on for so many years. If he had bed sores, I have no doubt that these were completely healed as well! Hallelujah! God is good!
Precious child of God, know that in the power of the Holy Spirit, Jesus enables you to do what you thought you could never do, or receive what you did not think you could have. Just as Jesus said to the man in our message today, He says to you “Enough is enough”. It is time for change! You may have been waiting a long time, but your time has come. He has a healing for you. He has a financial miracle for you. He has the restoration of a relationship for you. I know that if you can even believe today for a miracle to be fulfilled in the life of another, it can, and will come to pass, in the name of Jesus!
There are a few thoughts I would like to leave you with.
1) I feel the Lord speaking to many of you precious people who have been experiencing turbulence in your work, finances, health and/or relationships, or experiencing unrest and a ‘storm’ in your heart. Do not despair. You are experiencing a stirring of the waters of your circumstances; this is all a part of the divine plan, shifting and shaking the different aspects of your life; removing what needs to go, and bringing you through into another level, to see and receive the miracle you have been praying for. Position yourself to receive, by being filled with the Word and the Presence – God is doing something mighty, and you will see it spring up before you in the days to come.
2) In today’s Scripture, we see that while the sick people had a place to stay around the pool of Bethesda, it was only when they got into the stirred waters that they could experience the divine healing power that had been divinely released. It is time to abandon ourselves to Jesus and jump right in to His presence! All things become possible in the river of God’s Spirit!
3) Finally, remember that your life can be a healing pool for those in need – you are the temple of the powerful Holy Spirit who raised Jesus from death. As the waters of your heart are stirred with the compassion of Jesus, reach out and lay your healing hands on those in need, in the name of Jesus. The blessed Spirit will minister to them and make them whole!
There is a miracle waiting for you! Believe and receive, in Jesus’ mighty name – Amen!
Minoli Haththotuwa, 12 July 2010