“Now there is in Jerusalem by the Sheep Gate a pool, in Aramaic called Bethesda which has five roofed colonnades. In these lay a multitude of of invalids-blind, lame and paralyzed. One man was there who had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him lying there and knew that he had already been there a long time, he said to him, “Do you want to be healed?” 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 going another steps down before me.” Jesus said to him, “Get up, take up your bed and walk.” And at once the man was healed and he took up his bed and walked.-John 5:2-9
For centuries archaeologists disputed the existence of an actual pool of Bethesda, stating it was a metaphorical place, until the 19th century when the remains of this pool fitting the description in John’s gospel was discovered. As with so many other initial contradictions Holy Scripture will always prove true. The pool of Bethesda was an unsavory place, a depressing place. A place of disease, sickness and shame. A place where only the most desperate went in the hopes they may possibly be the one to touch the miraculous and leave whole. The Angel of the Lord would come and stir the waters transforming this place of shame into a Basin of Mercy, albeit only for one. As one scorned individual was transformed from a shunned member of society to a uniquely special recipient of grace, others laid with little hope. Such was this invalid of thirty-eight years. I wonder if he secretly held a place of hope in his heart, that against all manner of reason he would somehow one day be healed. Or maybe this was an unselfish man who took actual pleasure in seeing the miraculous touch others. Whether kind or bitterly dejected, one day the gentle Shepherd lovingly looked into his eyes and asked the question only he could provide the answer to, “Do you want to be healed?”
As is so often the case, we seek to have our needs met in diverse places and not the loving eyes of our Savior. We don’t know him to be the Jesus the Bible describes; the Lover of our souls, our Redeemer, our Healer. Yet still, his penetrating voice of kindness whispers to our heart and asks the question that stirs the water of our soul, “Do you want to be healed?” As with the invalid at Bethesda’s pool we could respond with an honest heart and divulge our plight to the only one who can truly help us, or we can do as so many have done a thousand times, harden our heart and turn away. Can you count the number of times you dismissed his word? Dismissed his invitation? The sharing of a testimony of grace from a friend or acquaintance? “This is the carpenter’s son, what does he know?” the man at Bethesda could have said. But to the glory of God and the joy of his existence he opened his heart and received more than he could ever have imagined.
I pray today is the day you too position yourself for a touch of the miraculous. The Lord God according to the nature of who he is, can not disappoint. “A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not put out…”-Isaiah 42:3 This depressing, dirty place at Bethesda was turned into a House of Mercy because this man embraced the undeserved Grace of our Lord. He was changed body, soul and spirit. When the waters of your soul are stirred as the waters of Bethesda, do not wait but run to him. Run while he calls to you for you may not hear his voice again. Do not miss the precious opportunity to be healed in the deepest part of yourself and to experience the essence of life, the opening of your spiritual eyes, the re-birth of your soul. Though foolishness to perishing bystanders, it is joy unspeakable to the recipients of his Grace.