Summary: Following Jesus steps.
After this there was a festival of the Jews, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem.
2 Now in Jerusalem by the Sheep Gate there is a pool, called in Hebrew Beth-zatha, which has five porticoes. 3 In these lay many invalids—blind, lame, and paralyzed. 5 One man was there who had been ill for thirty-eight years. 6 When Jesus saw him lying there and knew that he had been there a long time, he said to him, “Do you want to be made well?” 7 The sick man answered him, “Sir, I have no one to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up; and while I am making my way, someone else steps down ahead of me.” 8 Jesus said to him, “Stand up, take your mat and walk.” 9 At once the man was made well, and he took up his mat and began to walk.
If you visit Jerusalem and stop by St. Anne’s church, they will show you the deep excavation that has revealed the ancient pool called Beth-zatha, or Bethesda. (Slides) Bethesda means “House of Mercy.” In ancient time, this pool would stir every now and than, and when it does the water becomes medicinal, but only for a moment. The Bible says that the angle of the Lord would come down seasonally to stir up the water and the first of those that jumped into the water at that moment got their disease cured. It’s the nature’s remedy for human malady.
So, many people of various diseases waited on the five porches of the pool of the House of Mercy for the stirring of the water. Some people obviously slept there to wait for the moment because no one knew when the water would stir. It was not daily or weekly, but the Bible says, it was seasonally. It must be like those geysers in the Yosemite Park that just erupts intermittently, but unlike the Old Faithful that has the predictable timing. So the sick were waiting there like waiting at the hospital.
Don’t think that we don’t have similar instances in today’s world.. I visited Bill Lundsten at the hospital this week and Evelyn told me that they had to wait in the emergency room until nearly midnight to get a room. My father was there a month ago and it was the same. He was there about 10 o’clock in the morning and didn’t get a room until 10 o’clock at night. If you go to the hospital nowadays, you just don’t know when you will get a bed, and in Bill’s case the neurologist didn’t come to see him until the third day morning. When the doctor came, he didn’t even bother to read the chart but start asking what happened. Hello! There is a chart that tells everything!
The scripture today teaches us three actions of Jesus Christ that we must learn as his followers.
1. Pay Attention
The pool of Bethesda was like a hospital, but of course it was much worse. The Bible says, in verse 3, that there were many individuals laying on the porticoes—blind, lame, and paralyzed. They were waiting there for the water to stir so that they can jump in. There is a guy who has been lying there for 38 years. Every time the water stirred, he tried to jump in but he couldn’t because he was paralyzed and couldn’t move fast enough. People just cut in front of him and jump before him and left him behind. By the time he helped himself to the pool, it was too late.
Year after year he waited there. Nobody helped him. It reminds me of the story Mike sent me years ago. It was about a very successful young man who just bought a brand new Jaguar, XK8. One day as he speed through a city street, a brick flew out of the alley way and smashed on his front door. He stepped on his brake, backed up to where the brick came out of, stopped his car, and found a kid standing there crying. He grabbed the kind on his neck and said, “Do you know what you just did? That’s a very expansive car. Can you afford to pay for the damage?”
The kid cried miserably and said, “My brother and his wheel chair have fallen into the gutter over there, and he is stuck under the wheel chair. I can’t help him out and every car that passed by here drove in high speed and nobody gave me attention.” The man suddenly calmed down and walked with the boy over to the gutter and helped his brother out. Then he drove home slowly with an awakened mind. He never fixed that door in order to remind him of not to pass through life in high speed and miss the things that matters most.