1Some time later, Jesus went up to Jerusalem for a feast of the Jews. 2Now there is in Jerusalem near the Sheep Gate a pool, which in Aramaic is called Bethesda and which is surrounded by five covered colonnades. 3Here a great number of disabled people used to lie—the blind, the lame, the paralyzed. 5One who was there had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. 6When Jesus saw him lying there and learned that he had been in this condition for a long time, he asked him, "Do you want to get well?"
8Then Jesus said to him, "Get up! Pick up your mat and walk." 9At once the man was cured; he picked up his mat and walked. The day on which this took place was a Sabbath, 10and so the Jews said to the man who had been healed, "It is the Sabbath; the law forbids you to carry your mat."
11But he replied, "The man who made me well said to me, ‘Pick up your mat and walk.’ "
12So they asked him, "Who is this fellow who told you to pick it up and walk?"
13The man who was healed had no idea who it was, for Jesus had slipped away into the crowd that was there.
14Later Jesus found him at the temple and said to him, "See, you are well again. Stop sinning or something worse may happen to you." 15The man went away and told the Jews that it was Jesus who had made him well.
Angels stirring water. Pools for healing. Sick and diseased everywhere. Five covered porches surrounded the pool of Bethesda in Jerusalem, perfect locations for the ill to recline while waiting for the pool to be stirred. Imagine Jerusalem’s sick and handicapped sitting around the pool day after day, waiting for the “certain time” [John 5:4 NKJV] when the angel whipped the water, the signal that healing was available to the first one in the pool. Pity the poor person who couldn’t help him or herself. Sitting by the pool, waiting for healing, never to be healed.
For centuries the sit of this pool was uncertain. The Scripture makes it clear it was in Jerusalem, near the Sheep Gate. But the exact location was disputed. Archaeologists are now quite certain that excavations of the remains of pools and porticos near the Church of St. Anne reveal the location of this story. The Crusaders built this small church to commemorate the site where tradition says Mary, Jesus’ mother, was born.
This invalid in John 5 had waited thirty-eight long years for healing. Now some rascal appeared and asked what appeared to be a foolish question: Do you want to be made well? Or perhaps it was not such a foolish question. Perhaps he had become complacent in his illness? Perhaps he would rather beg than work? Or perhaps he just simply wanted to get to the pool when the angel arrived but never managed it.
No matter now. The Great Healer was standing right in front of him. Jesus didn’t ask anything else, just told the man to pick up his bed and walk. And he did. He found that he could. No stirred waters or racing involved.