Summary: There is no better time than now to begin showing gratitude to God in both word and life
“After these things there was a feast of the Jews, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. 2 Now there is in Jerusalem by the sheep gate a pool, which is called in Hebrew Bethesda, having five porticoes. 3 In these lay a multitude of those who were sick, blind, lame, and withered, [waiting for the moving of the waters; 4 for an angel of the Lord went down at certain seasons into the pool and stirred up the water; whoever then first, after the stirring up of the water, stepped in was made well from whatever disease with which he was afflicted.] 5 A man was there who had been ill for thirty-eight years. 6 When Jesus saw him lying there, and knew that he had already been a long time in that condition, He said to him, “Do you wish to get well?” 7 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.” 8 Jesus said to him, “Get up, pick up your pallet and walk.” 9 Immediately the man became well, and picked up his pallet and began to walk. Now it was the Sabbath on that day. 10 So the Jews were saying to the man who was cured, “It is the Sabbath, and it is not permissible for you to carry your pallet.” 11 But he answered them, “He who made me well was the one who said to me, ‘Pick up your pallet and walk.’ ” 12 They asked him, “Who is the man who said to you, ‘Pick up your pallet and walk’?” 13 But the man who was healed did not know who it was, for Jesus had slipped away while there was a crowd in that place. 14 Afterward Jesus found him in the temple and said to him, “Behold, you have become well; do not sin anymore, so that nothing worse happens to you.” 15 The man went away, and told the Jews that it was Jesus who had made him well. 16 For this reason the Jews were persecuting Jesus, because He was doing these things on the Sabbath. 17 But He answered them, “My Father is working until now, and I Myself am working.” 18 For this reason therefore the Jews were seeking all the more to kill Him, because He not only was breaking the Sabbath, but also was calling God His own Father, making Himself equal with God.”
Although I’ve never made an attempt at counting them, and I don’t foresee ever having a need to, I would presume to say that there are hospitals and medical facilities all over America and probably many places in the world that have the word ‘mercy’ in their name.
In Merced, California where two of my children live one of the hospitals in that town is Mercy Hospital (in fact, Merced is Spanish for ‘mercy’).
It’s an appropriate name for a facility that ministers aid and treatment to those physically ill or injured; isn’t it?
I’m sure that it is out of a sense of mercy and compassion for people that many caregivers go into the professions that make up the medical field, from doctors to nurses to emergency medical people who drive ambulances and so forth.
So it is fitting that this place Jesus came to when He arrived in Jerusalem for this unspecified feast of the Jews, is called the pool at Bethesda, which means ‘house of mercy’.
Because all around this pool lay ‘a multitude of those who were sick, blind, lame, and withered’.
Unfortunately, we don’t get the sense from the text that there was a whole lot of mercy being shown there. I get the feeling that people in this place are largely abandoned to their misery.
It wasn’t a hospital. At best it was a hot spring believed to have healing properties. There is a parenthesis as you can see, from the second half of verse 3 through verse 4, that talks of an angel coming down at certain times to stir the waters and when he did whoever got to the pool first was healed.
The reason for the parenthesis is that this portion is not in the oldest manuscripts, and this is not an isolated case – there are other portions of the New Testament that include parentheses around certain passages for the same reason.
So, of course, there has been quite a bit of speculation as to whether an angel really stirred the waters or if this was just some scribe’s way of explaining that people back then, when they saw the waters churning, believed it to be the work of an angel. I do not see the necessity of examining this further because frankly, the man in this account was never able to get to the water anyway so the issue of the nature of the water is rendered moot as pertains to this account.