The Paralytic at the Pool, Part 2 [and Part 1]
Where do you go for healing? What if your healer came to you?
I’ve tried lots of health and healing remedies, some of them kind of crazy. I’m sure you’d recognize a few. (Grapefruit diet, anyone?) None of my experiences compare to the healing that occurred at the pool of Bethesda!
Scholars believe this pool, located near the sheep gate, was used to wash animals destined for sacrifice at one time. In Jesus’s time, the afflicted gathered here for healing. By then it may have been converted to a pagan healing center known as an Asclepion. (Historical timing is unclear, at least to me.)
Asclepions by the hundreds were scattered across the Roman Empire. Each was dedicated to the Greek god of medicine and healing, Asclepius. The afflicted gathered to drink of spring water, bathe in shallow pools, and sleep under cover of porticos to await healing insights through dreams.
Whenever water in the pools moved, they hastened in to be healed. Various explanations have surfaced for the water stirring. Some attributed it to an angel of the Lord; perhaps it was once so blessed^. Others suggest it was in the transfer from upper pool to lower; the effects of the natural spring; or even swimming serpents associated with the cult of Asclepius. Yikes.
If this was a pagan site by that time, it’s even more notable that on a Jewish feast day, the holy city bustling with celebrants, Jesus determined to first visit the pool of Bethesda. This was His signature power move — to seek out sinners on a sacred Sabbath!
Either way, Jesus was on a rescue mission. The paralytic had no clue Jesus was coming for him. In an instant, he recognized the voice of Truth. Responding, he was healed.
This story of the paralytic reveals God’s character. So great is God’s mercy and love, He shows up. On that day, one man looking for healing in all the wrong places encountered amazing grace. Healing came to him.
God did this so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us. ‘For in him we live and move and have our being.’ As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are his offspring.’ (Acts 17:27-28 NIV)
I’ve looked for healing in all of the wrong places, too. I can’t begin to count how many machines and gadgets I’ve bought and discarded; diets tried; workout classes attended; cookbooks purchased but seldom used. Not to mention supplements and medications consumed, recommendations sought and followed, or not. <Sigh>
How many hours spent waiting on the world for healing? On the whole, it hasn’t worked out so well. If only I’d known thirty years ago what I know now.
Healing starts in the heart, in response to the God who shows up.
The God who shows up has come for me. He’s come for you, too. Today I will move in bright sunshine and stretch my stiff spine. Delight in a big pile of vegetables and bowl of berries. Take nourishment from His Word. Let go of offenses. Grab hold of promises. Walk in grateful freedom. Celebrate the good gifts of this day and the good body I’ll use to move through it — no shame or regret!
Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. (James 1:17 CSB)
P.S. Don’t miss the first part of this series: Pick up your mat!
*Some later manuscripts attribute stirring to an angel of the Lord; generally considered a scribe’s addition, not original and inspired Scripture.
^A familiar symbol of modern medicine is the “Rod of Asclepius” with twining serpents.