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Waiting at the Pool of Bethesda: John 5:2-15

By Mary Peckham

It was nothing short of a miracle that this nameless, 'certain man' was still waiting for healing after thirty-eight years! He believed, as did the 'great multitude', that, at a certain season, (exact time unknown) a supernatural being, an angel, would come down and 'trouble' the pool. Then was his chance to be first in the churning water! He dearly wanted to come, and indeed he tried but he needed help and it was never forthcoming (v.7).

It looked like this man had no friends. 'Sir', he said to Jesus, 'I have no man' How tragic that after thirty-eight years among that motley crowd of blind, lame and diseased individuals he had not won the favour of any. Some must have managed to get into the pool but alas, they were not available at these mysterious season when the pool was stirred. 'Sir, I have no man when the water is troubled, to put me into the pool.'

Were it not for the five porches provided by society in this so called 'house of mercy' (Bethesda) there would have been little or no comfort for the sick. But there were no cures for the numerous ailments represented around the pool. One other important matter which we must not overlook is that this man's disease was directly related to his previous sinful life. (Jesus said to him 'sin no more lest a worse thing come unto you' v.14.)

What a picture we have here of sinners in waiting! They are described as 'impotent', i.e. helpless. They have no power or strength over their situation. Yet, withal, they hope that some day, their turn will come, and supernaturally, they will be healed. Then of course there are the porches which bring temporary relief-five of them. Foremost is the one which reminds them that they are all alike in their helplessness. Sick people always find comfort in the fact that many others suffer from the same disease as themselves. Then there is the porch of hope and self-effort. Had they not tried in their own strength to get into the pool? Many a sinner had and then retorted, 'it doesn't work! I am no better after all my efforts!' Others blame God and find refuge in their belief that they are as they are because it is not God's will that they should be saved. Another porch that is a favourite refuge for sinners is the self-righteous one. 'I haven't done anyone any harm and pay one hundred pence in the pound.' We forget the word which says 'all our own righteousnesses are as filthy rags in His sight.'

Our subject was waiting, waiting for God to come to him in a certain prescribed way. God, on the other hand never comes to any two individuals in the same way. His methods are tailored to the needs of each one. No 'peas in a pod', or 'stamps out of a machine' method in God's operations. 'His ways are past finding out.'

When Jesus came to our weary waiting cripple, He did not mention the pool or the superstition connected with it. He simply drew out the man's confession (v.7) and said, 'rise, take up they bed and walk!'

well might we say 'impossible', but we are dealing without the God who, in bringing the creation into being said, 'Let there be light!' and it was so. 'And immediately the man was made whole and took up his bed and walked' v.9.

Will you take your eyes off all these sources from which you expect salvation, and, like the man by the pool, turn your eyes upon Jesus Christ, confess your sinful state and respond to His life-giving Word? Come unto Me and I will give you rest.' You needn't wait any longer.