At the Pool of Bethesda

“Sir,” the invalid replied, “I have no one to help me into the pool when the water is stirred. While I am trying to get in, someone else goes down ahead of me.”
Then Jesus said to him, “Get up! Pick up your mat and walk.” At once the man was cured; he picked up his mat and walked…
—John 5:7-9

Have you ever considered the record of the man whom Jesus healed at the pool of Bethesda? It seems like I am changed every time I revisit this man’s encounter with the Son of God. Not long ago, I was once again reading about this miraculous healing and revelation from heaven started to flood my soul.

Part of my Bible training came from what we would call the “Word of Faith” camp. There were a lot of good things that came from this period of my life. I learned a lot about God and how to operate in the authority that God has given each and every one of us. I also learned a lot about what not to do. When confronted with a person in genuine need, well-meaning men and women of God would make the same mistake over and over again by failing to release healing into the life of the person to whom they were ministering.

I watched as these well-trained Christians went out and attempted to pray for the sick. So many times they would ask the person who was ill a series of questions. It was almost as if they would interrogate them, searching for a statement or a belief that was wrong. In the worst case scenario, when the person who was in need of healing would say something that the minister didn’t agree with, the individual would be corrected, chastised, and indoctrinated rather than receiving love and sympathy.

Instead of praying with love and compassion, a sermon was delivered. Many times the lesson being taught wasn’t well-received and the encounter would end in an argument. If prayer was offered, it wasn’t expected to yield many results because of the individual’s wrong confession or faith. Unfortunately, these instances occurred more frequently than not.

When we look at this man at the pool, we see that Jesus walked up to the man with love and compassion. He didn’t ask him what his confession was. Jesus didn’t quiz him about his faith or his church history. He didn’t dig into his personal life to find out if the man was in offense or harboring unforgiveness. Jesus simply asked him if he wanted to be healed.

The man’s response was classic. Of course he wanted to be healed, but the man told Jesus that he had nobody to help him in the pool when the angel came and stirred the waters. Right then and there the man pin-pointed his faith. His faith wasn’t in the law, the covenant, or even in Jesus, the Son of God who was standing right in front of him.

In this story, we see an incredible demonstration of God’s love, mercy and compassion. Rather than rebuking the man at the pool of Bethesda, Jesus healed him. Jesus didn’t preach a three-point sermon. He didn’t even try to get the man to change his confession or doctrine. He simply healed the man. He healed him despite his wrong confession and poor doctrine.

Jesus’ love and mercy exceeded all of the man’s faith. The Lord’s desire to see the man walk was greater than the man’s wrong thinking. God’s willingness to heal overpowered the lame man’s so-called “bad confession.” So if that’s the way Jesus healed, don’t you think we ought to act the same way? Let God’s mercy and grace flow through you into the lives of others. Always remember, God wants to heal right now. He doesn’t need to wait until we follow a current model of faith. He proved that to us at the pool of Bethesda.

Scriptural Context

John 5:1-9

Concept Reinforcement

When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd,
he had compassion on them and healed their sick.

—Matthew 14:14

Accept him whose faith is weak, without
passing judgment on disputable matters.

—Romans 14:1

Finally, all of you, live in harmony with
one another; be sympathetic, love as brothers,
be compassionate and humble.

—1 Peter 3:8