A Story of Mercy and Grace
I love the Gospel of John. The account of Jesus’ ministry on this earth is good in any gospel but John gives us the stories of individual encounters of people with Jesus. Today we will be looking at John 5 and the story of the man at the Pool of Bethesda.
The name of the pool, Bethesda, is Aramaic and it means, “House of Mercy”. It sits north of the temple in Jerusalem near the “Sheep Gate”. The pool was surrounded by five colonnades, porches where the lame, the blind, and paralyzed gathered for shade and for the hope of healing.
Legend had it that an angel would come down and stir up the water. The first person in the water after the “angelic stirring” would be made well of every disease or affliction suffered. There is no Biblical account of this ever happening, but the legend was strong and a great number of afflicted but hopeful people would lie there expecting a miracle.
According to John 5:5-7, on this day, Jesus was visiting the Pool of Bethesda and walked by a man who had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. Jesus stopped and asked the man, “ Do you want to be healed?” The man began to explain “while I am trying to get in, someone else goes ahead of me. I have no one to help me.”
Jesus responded to the man’s desperate account and said, “Get up! Pick up your mat and walk.” The man was instantly cured, and John 5:9 tells us he picked up his mat and walked. It was a complete restoration of muscles, joints, ligaments, tendons, and bones. A man who had been paralyzed for thirty-eight years walked away from his pain, humiliation, and aloneness. In the presence of Jesus, he was completely, instantly healed!
There were many others there that day, but we only have the account of this man. I personally believe he was “the one healed” for two reasons. He finally knew he could not do it by himself and he knew that in the natural there was no one to help. He was desperate and had no hope in the legend or his ability. When we surrender our ability and our expectation of others to meet our needs, then we open the door for supernatural intervention.
I’ve often thought it funny that Jesus asked him if he wanted to be healed. It seemed obvious; he was there hoping the legend of the angel would be true. Could Jesus not figure out the man’s desire? Of course, he could but he wanted the man to declare his faith! “I want to be healed!”
I believe every detail and every word in scripture is present for a reason. The name of the pool, “Bethesda, house of mercy” and the location nestled within five porches gives us added insight into this miracle. In the scripture five is the number representing “grace”. So, this man was sitting by mercy and surrounded by grace for many years before he received his miracle. How often do we wait before God’s mercy and grace before we accept our supernatural provision? How long do we labor on our own or in the hopes of another human being who will meet our needs when only Jesus can heal us? How often do believe legends or do what everyone else is doing instead of having an encounter with Jesus?
There will be those who will correct you for not getting your miracle the right way. As, the man was leaving Bethesda, the Jewish leaders stopped him. They said, “It is the Sabbath, and the law forbids you to carry your mat.” The man replied, “The man who made me well said to me, ‘Pick up your mat and walk.’ The Jews wanted to know the name of the person who was breaking their laws. The healed man did not know it was Jesus for according to John 5:11, Jesus had quietly slipped into the crowd after the miracle. There is so much insight into the God’s mercy and grace as opposed to the bondage of the law in this passage. I encourage you to take a few moments and mediate on John5:1-15. Pray and surrender any thing you have been trying to “make happen” on your own. Repent of expecting others to meet your needs and come face to face with the miracle worker. He’s ready to heal you!