I am astonished as I visit this place - Bethesda Pool. It’s like an hospital packed with sick people: the blinde, the lame, the paralyzed. And rumor was that the chief doctor was an angel!
The Bible states here the popular belief. An angel encouraging competition? The fastest, the strongest being cured? Is this a good angel or an evil one? Or just rumors circulating around?
Because in the picture I don’t see any angel, good/evil, appearing. It’s a battle for surviving. Like today. He who is the strongest, the fastest to plunge where the waters are stirred. Stepping over others. The picture for survival at Bethesda pool it’s actual, today after 2,000 years. The pool of B reflecting, refracting and diffracting everything and everybody around.
The suffering ones at Bethesda we meet everywhere. We see the hopelessly on our streets, in the hospitals, weeping in their homes, and sometimes, even in the church. Our world seems to be an over-sized Bethesda.
Waiting for the moving of the water. Waiting for instant blessing, instant healing, instant transformation. On the porch. There are a multitude of Christians today who spiritually speaking are on the porches.
They are not doing anything for God. They are lying down idle, watching, judging, criticizing, They think they know how it should be done, but they are not doing anything. There is no healing on the porch.
Vs.5-7 (NLT) - ‘I have no one”, I am alone… In these words, we catch not only the physical pain, but also something a lot more terrible… Loneliness. I have no one… words present in almost any sickness, but they reflect wounds of the soul.
It appears contradictory that while we talk about population explosion, the phenomenon of loneliness is increasing. There are more and more lonely people by square foot in big cities.
To understand better the contemporary Bethesda real story, the causes and the solution (not solutions because is the only one solution), let’s us look closer at this scene so perfect condensed by John in just a few verses.
Think at Jerusalem, the city of peace. Some people have no peace. In v 1 we are told that there was a “feast”, a festival for all to rejoice. But beyond this atmosphere of celebration, we can hear groans of pain. People pushing others in a horrific stampede even killed in this tragic competition: who is going to be the fastest.
People came here to be healed; instead they were pushed away. Imagine that tense atmosphere, the waiting, with one eye on the water ant the other on the neighbors. Each neighbor is a competitor who could steal his healing.
Days, weeks, months, years of endless watching. Maybe this night… Maybe tomorrow… Maybe…. Few strategic advances, one inch closer to the pool. While the neighbor is slumbering.Sabbath rest? Relaxation? Never.
How shall we explain the fact that in Jerusalem, the place that God wanted the truth to be proclaimed, there was this spooky place, PARANORMAL activity. An angel came not in the temple, next block fro Bethesda, but at the pool.
Do you believe? .I don’t But these sick people over there, they believed! And another irony is the name of that place. Bethesda means “The House of Mercy”. The people called House of Mercy, this place and not the Temple! The Temple became a business place and a den of thieves.
The purpose of the Temple is now lost altogether. Instead of a praying and healing place, it became an immense business center. The Temple had own currency and if you want to pay your tithe and offerings, you need to exchange your money at an outrageous rate…
The animals brought from far away for sacrifice were often rejected by the priests and Levites. They will say: it’s a skinny lamb, it’s crippled… go and buy another from my cousin, over there!... The lamb will be finally purchased paying the price of a bull.
This was the main reason why sick and disabled people walked away from religion and chose to believe instead in Bethesda muddy water to be healed. Oh, but even here things were not for free.
- You must to pay in order to obtain a better place closer to water than others,
- You must to pay a strong servant so that at the opportune moment, to brings you and throw you in the pool.
- You must to pay somebody to carry you to the rest room, to brings you food, and many other services.
All these had to be paid for. At Bethesda the mechanism always in function since sin entered the world: MIGHT MAKES RIGHT.
Beatitudes upside down. Blessed are those who:
- know how to elbow themselves in life, for they will live well.
- are strong because their heart will never be hurt.
- can create problems: they will be respected by those around them
The priest and the Levites said that the solution was money. The ordinary people and sick onesbelieved that the solution was a miracle. In fact, the solution was not money or a miracle, but a PERSON.
V 2 says there was a gate, called THE SHEEP GATE. Jerusalem had many gates, some of the big, adorned, trough passed the military and religious parades; others were simple holes in the walls supported by a few wooden beams. There was a gate called BEAUTIFUL, the SPRING gate, the RUNNERS gate, and WATER gate…
Trough the Sheep Gate, which was very close to the Temple and to the pool, the animals were led for sacrifice. Century after century, in a slow endless procession, thousands of lamb passed through the Sheep Gate, symbols of the Lamb of God which takes away the sin of the world.
But the Bethesda patients, were with their back to the sheep gate, with their back to the only one solution to their miseries, and the faces toward the troubled waters. Water as symbol: multitudes, people… And stirred waters as a symbol? Just look at the evening TV news…
There was a “certain man, which was an infirm for 38 years”… For thirty-eight long years this man laid on his pallet beside the pool of Bethesda and waited. Seeing his face reflected by the water of Bethesda. 38 years. That’s a long time. Most of our congregation isn’t even thirty-eight long years old.
How long is thirty-eight years? ...Thirty-eight years is a long time to wait for anything, but it must have seemed like an eternity to this man. How long is thirty-eight years? Long enough that most people would stop believing. He laid down there because other people believed the water had healing power when stirred.
When Jesus saw him, he asked him a question, "Do you wish to get well?" Is that a question that Jesus even needed to ask? Certainly the man wanted to be well again, didn’t he? He had waited in the same place for 38 years, why else would he be there?
Let me ask the question another way, and if you don’t mind, I’ll get a little personal. Do you wish to stop repeating the same mistakes and going through the same cycles in your relationships, or does it feel safer to blame others instead of dealing with your issues?
Do you wish to get rid of your anger, or would you just as soon keep it? One year, two years, a decade, two decades… 38 years and beyond…
Many sick people were lying on the porches – the blind, the lame, and the paralyzed (NIV). Are you there? Are you blind, spiritually? Are you deaf and you cannot hear Jesus’ voice? Are you lame, are paralyzed and unable to do something for God and his church?
And Jesus walks in. On which row would He begin? Would He pay attention to the order in which the patients were laying down? The big donors? The priests’ clientele? But this would mean the validation of the force and money principle because whit money you can buy a god place near water. And a strong servant, able to throw you in…
Now look at Jesus. Jesus chooses to begin at the tail end. He stopped facing this paralyzed man, a helpless human being, one who would not be tempted to believe in karma, brain energies working out con-artists healers, impostors… healers like Benny Hinn, waiting for that slain in the spirit…
After 38 years of waiting this man still believed that God can do something for him… Still praying. Waiting for a chance to prove that his repentance is genuine.
Off course, popular religion stated that only sinners are sick or poor… The Word of God say the opposite - that sickness does not mean punishment for sin… Punishment no, but in some cases, sickness is a follow up; and in this case seems that certain sin brought this man in this condition.
Paralyzed. Yesterday Superman, today… paralyzed. Alone. Remorse. Over and over again he rewinds his foolish life, his wasteful life. Alone, with nobody to help him. We don’t now nothing about his family, but now he is utterly alone.
He just could not understand how some of his friends who fellowshipped with him in the good time, are now healthy and going ahead with their scandalous lifestyle, and him… laying down there watching the pool day and night…
This is not right. However, in the passing of the years, the suffering, which is a school, produced in him a change in his attitude – gradually he became willing to accept his condition rather than rebel every single day. He also wished to return back in time and undue some of his actions...
Oh! If only I could be well again, what a clean life would I live, what good deeds I will perform, and praising His Name… I will return to God not only a tenth, but half of my earnings. I will go to India as missionary; I will help my church, I will do this and that…
“Do you wish to get well?” What a question. Is it not a joke? Some of those jokes made by his mat-neighbors, who only intensify his misery? (Look, the water, jump… ha, ha, April fools!)
But no. Those eyes looking at him with no shadow of irony and without scolding him… It seems that he have seen them somewhere before. May be in a dream where he saw himself before God giving an account of his weistfull life?
Lord, I have no one… It is dreadful to have no one. It is the ugly burden carried by all who want to live selfishly, only for themselves, without family, church responsibility.
Stand up, pick up your mat and walk! That was all. No follow up sermon, no scolding. The paralyzed one wished for another chance, and he got it. This is grace. Do you think we are alone? Do you think that our problems are too big, more complicated that some of our relatives or fellow-members in the church have?
Do we feel sorry for ourselves, and ready to plunge in the troubled waters of this world?
These lady, a church member apparently in good standing, but cannot face her problems, stoped coming to church, and ready to plunge in the troubled waters for a solution.
These old man, whose children left him in the water of this world is now without any future and hopelessly he is ready to jump too into the pool of his world.
This professional man, once a respected deacon in his church, now tormented by deaf dissatisfactions, wants to wet his feet in the troubled waters of the pool. He barely comes to church, once every other month, and seems immune to pastors’ appeals.
And the young who pictured the life like action movie, nut understanding that the church is really the place of grace, ready to swim in Bethesda pool as the only solution to his quest for happiness…
To all these, I will like to underline again: the water of this world is not the solution. Bethesda is a lie. Only Jesus can heal, can restore, can save. Not even an angel is capable of this, but our Creator only.
Jesus calls us: Come on! Rise, pick your lamentation’s bed and walk. Follow Me!