Summary: Why didn’t Jesus heal everybody at the pool of Bethesda? Why just one paralytic?
(I had the audience sing this hymn with me)
“There is a fountain filled with blood
Drawn from Immanuel’s veins
And sinners plunged beneath that flood,
Lose all their guilty stains
They lose all their guilty stains,
Lose all their guilty stains
And sinners plunged beneath that flood
Lose all their guilty stains.”
(pause, speak as tho’ carefully considering the words)
There is a fountain filled with blood drawn from Immanuel’s veins.
And there was a pool…
filled with water…
located just outside of Jerusalem near an eastern gate called the “Sheep’s Gate”.
It was called “the pool of Bethesda” and it had a reputation for being a place of healing. That is… if you were fortunately enough to be the first into the water.
ILLUS: For years skeptics claimed that this pool never existed. The very idea of people supposedly going to this pool in the hopes of being “healed” strained the imagination of these critics, and the mocked the belief that this had ever occurred. They concluded that this was just a story made up by John as window dressing.
But then somebody found the pool.
In 1888, there was excavation that took place near a church near Jerusalem, and the found the pool exactly where the Apostle John said it was.
So, we know the pool existed.
(pause) But how did it get the reputation of being a place of healing?
Well, this is what I think happened:
I believe the fact that the waters “were troubled” (they vibrated, or boiled or something) caught the imagination of the inhabitants of Jerusalem.
Then, one day, someone said that they’d heard someone say that when the waters were troubled, they’d stepped into the waters and they’d been healed of a disease. Then someone else said that they’d heard that their 2nd cousin on their mother’s side had also stepped into waters and they were healed. And then another rumor became added to that… and another rumor… and another rumor. And before you knew it – that pool was the place to go when you needed healed.
People began to crowd around the pool, waiting for the waters to move. The blind, the lame, the paralyzed showed up by the hundreds. But it became obvious that not many of them were healed (if anyone actually was) and the crowds began to experience discouragement… until someone suggested – maybe only the first person into the pool is actually healed.
And since, no one really knew WHO had gotten into the pool first, those who were desperate for healing clung to this little bit of hope. And before you knew it, theory became fact.
So the crowds continued to come.
Everyone pushed and jostled their way to the front, hoping to be the first into the pool… leaving guys like the paralytic in our story this morning lying on the pavement, hoping against hope that they might just see the water boil before anyone else and crawl to the water’s edge for healing.
Then along came Jesus, and life for the paralytic changed forever.
Jesus heals him.
The man picks up his mat and walks for the first time in 38 years.
Now, that’s a great story.
But - I have to admit – there was something this passage bothered me for a couple of days.