The pool of Bethesda was probably beautiful in its day. With its grand columns, and open air, at one time I bet it was a much sought after pool for relaxing. The name Bethesda literally means “house of mercy.” It is at the Pool of the house of Mercy that Jesus is at during a festival. (See John 5:1-15). The Pool had five covered porches. Whether it was because of the festival or an ongoing thing, the pool of Bethesda was covered with those who were ill, lame, poor and blind. Now there was a legend about the Pool of Bethesda that occasionally an angel would come down and stir the water. Whomever made it into the pool first received healing. It was there that Jesus met a man who had been sick (some translations say lame) for 38 years. When Jesus saw him He asked him, “Would you like to get well?”
You would think the man would say yes, but instead he gives excuses. “I can’t sir. For I have no one to help me into the pool when the water is stirred up. While I am trying to get there, someone else always get in ahead of me.” He never once said he would like to receive healing. Many scholars refer to this as a story where we get to comfortable in our brokenness and continue to live there instead of seeking the healing hand of God.
I have a friend who is like this. Her life is in quite the mess, yet instead of taking the steps to get well, she waits for it to happen. But isn’t that all of us to some degree. Isn’t that why AA says you have to hit rock bottom and get sick and tired of being sick and tired before you are willing to make progress?
We find perverse comfort in wallowing in our own wounds. To read out for healing is a scary thing indeed. The end of the story is that Jesus healed the man. Jesus simply told him to “get up and walk” and he did. He no longer had to wait on an angel to stir the water.
We are often comfortable in our day to day lives. I take medication for being bi-polar. Although my symptoms are well controlled, it is the goal of my dr and myself to get my medicines the best they can be, so that I can enjoy life to its fullest extent. Together we do a pretty good job.
I don’t know that our wounds are there for a reason. But I do believe that overcoming our wounds can have healing power for others if we allow it. I think Brennan Manning explains it best in his book Abba’s Child. He too talks about the pool of Bethesda.
“Thorton Wilder’s one-act play “The Angel That Troubled the Waters,” based on John 5:1-4, dramatizes the power of the pool of Bethesda to heal whenever an angel stirred its waters. A physician comes periodically to the pool, hoping to be the first in line and longing to be healed of his melancholy.
The angel finally appears but blocks the physician just as he is ready to step into the water. The angel tells the physician to draw back, for this moment is not for him. The physician pleads for help in a broken voice, but the angel insists that healing is not intended for him.
The dialogue continues–and then comes the prophetic word from the angel: Without our wounds where would your power be? It is your melancholy that makes your low voice tremble into the hearts of men and women. The blundering children on earth as can one human being broken on the wheels of living. In Love’s service, only wounded soldiers can serve. Physician, draw back.””
If that is the case then I am definitely a wounded soldier. Today I am glad I am a wounded soldier, but there was a time where I spent my days by the pool of Bethesda comforting myself and believing that I didn’t deserve all that life had to offer. I want to tell you think about the ways your life resembles the Pool of Bethesda. Do you need healing, but have given up on receiving healing? Do you have an excuse every time the water is stirred?