Summary: A devotional message bringing reflections from the Pool of Bethesda. As we look at the healing of this paralysed man we see the need in our lives to get our eyes of our ’pools’ and put them on Jesus.
Introduction: Jesus heals a paralyzed man at the pool of Bethesda. This man’s whole focus was on the pool and getting into it first after the angel stirred it. Even though Jesus was right there besides him, he is trying to solicit Jesus help to lower him into the pool. We are often like that: trying to get Jesus to help us fulfil our plans. As we look at this story of the pool of Bethesda there are some reflections that appear for our own lives.
I The Circumstance (vv. 1-3)
i) Jesus visiting Jerusalem: Jesus was totally committed to living under the Law. This required all Jews living in a 20 mile radius of Jerusalem to present themselves before the Lord in Jerusalem three times in a year: Passover, Pentecost and Tabernacles. Today the Church is the House of God: Jesus has visited it in His Passover, the first Pentecost and the next is the fulfillment of Tabernacles when he will come again to dwell with His people – the Second Coming.
ii) The pool of Bethesda: Or Bethsaida or Bethzatha, which means the House of Mercy. Near the sheep gate so that sheep coming to be sacrificed in the temple could be washed in this pool. 5 colonnades to shelter the sick. Five is the number of grace. This Bethesda is anything but a place of mercy – a place of sickness and misery perhaps.
iii) Jesus is ready to visit your Bethesda: This place speaks to us of our condition of spiritual paralysis as we are stuck looking at an object (the Pool) of false hope. Jesus loves us enough to enter our situation of misery and to heal us.
II The Crisis (vv. 5-7)
i) The paralyzed man: He was invalid for 38 years. This is almost a full lifetime. He has spent most of his life on a bed paralyzed. One can imagine his plight.
ii) The significance of the number 38: It speaks of 3, the number of God and 8 the number of a new beginning. 38 = 5 x 7 + 3, 5 being the number of grace, 7 the number of perfection and 3 the number of God.
iii) His entire focus is on himself and the pool: He does not even recognize Jesus (c.f. vv. 14, 15). When Jesus asks him a question, he does not answer the question but complains about how no one will help him get into the pool.
iv) What is your pool? The place where you are stuck. The thing on which you are fixated. The false hope that takes your eyes off the Lord.
III The Cure (vv. 8-9)
i) Jesus asked him a question: Do you want to get well? Of all the people there, Jesus singled him out. Even though he did not recognize Jesus, he was the subject of God’s sovereign choice.
ii) Jesus mistaken for a helper to get him into the pool: His answer is to get Jesus to volunteer to help him into the pool. Jesus is not going to follow our plans – we must follow His.
iii) The command and the obedience: Jesus gave a threefold command: get up, pick up your mat, walk. Jesus may have discerned that he had the faith to be healed. He obeyed and was healed. Jesus wants to meet us at our Pools of Bethesda!
iv) From the Pool to Jesus: Jesus extends his mercy by meeting this man a second time. Perhaps this was because the man was at the right place after being healed: the temple. He came with his back on a bed, he leaves with the bed on his back! His vision has moved from the Pool to Jesus. What is your vision on?
v) Stop sinning! V 14. Sin is a doorway to the enemy. It’s not enough to have this life changing experience; we must maintain the blessing!
IV The Criticism (vv. 10 ff.)
i) Jesus healed on the Sabbath: Mercy was shown in the House of Mercy but the Jews had become so legalistic that they could not see this as a work of God but only see the violation of the law.
ii) Their Pool: These Jews were so fixed on the Law that they could not accept the miracle of Jesus because He had healed on the Sabbath. The letter had killed their view of Jesus, the very embodiment of the Law.
Are we stuck at our own pools of Bethesda? Jesus was there but the sick man did not recognize him. He is right next to us in our lives. But we are often fixed onto our own Pools of Bethesda trying to use Him to fulfill our own visions. Jesus wants us to heal us and to take our eyes off our own Pools of Bethesda. He wants to move us on in the plans He has for us.