“Some time later, Jesus went up to Jerusalem for one of the Jewish festivals. 2 Now there is in Jerusalem near the Sheep Gate a pool, which in Aramaic is called Bethesda[a] and which is surrounded by five covered colonnades. 3 Here a great number of disabled people used to lie—the blind, the lame, the paralyzed.” John 5.1-3
After four trips to the Holy Land, I can picture clearly the Pool of Bethesda. I’ve been there, read this very story and worshipped in this place. I’ve seen the colonnades in this area which are now three levels below the current street level. I’ve imagined what it must have been like for Jesus to approach such a location two thousand years ago.
The very idea of Jesus coming to the pool would have been rather shocking. It’s like the Pope showing up in a bar or Mother Theresa in a prostitution house. Once I think about it, it’s not so shocking! Although the rabbis of the day surely must have avoided these kinds of poverty stricken places (i.e. consider the Good Samaritan story and the religious leader who passed by on the other side) — Jesus does no such thing. He does not avoid but engages.
The text tells us a great number of disabled, paralyzed and hurting people were here. So it’s natural that our God of Compassion would appear. He selected this spot over other alternatives. He came to where the weak, the poor and the hurting were camped out. It reminds me of our big cities where the homeless hide under the bridges. How many preachers frequent those locations? (Not many.)
But Jesus isn’t dissuaded just because of the brokenness. He who healed many was right at home with those who were in need of help. He who created life was not afraid to fix the broken, heal the hurting, save the lost. Jesus goes where we need to follow. He loves those who the world sees as unlovable.
Which brings me to the point of application. Am I doing the same? When was the last time I showed up to love the unlovable or to bring hope to the homeless? Why am I afraid to engage with those whose lives have been turned upside down by disease, abandonment or addiction?
Thank you God for this reminder. I can not remain comfortable while your people are hurting. Help spark opportunities for me to offer hope to those who find themselves sitting at their own Pool of Bethesda’s. For your glory and by your grace.
“O Lord God, you are good. In the midst of my brokenness you entered in. You saved me and gave me new life. Help me so bless others that I might be all that you have called and created me to be. For you are good and your love endures forever.” Amen