Now there is in Jerusalem by the Sheep Gate a pool, which is called in Hebrew, Bethesda, having five porches.
In these lay a great multitude of sick people, blind, lame, paralyzed, waiting for the moving of the water.
For an angel went down at a certain time into the pool and stirred up the water; then whoever stepped in first, after the stirring of the water, was made well of whatever disease he had.
Now a certain man was there who had an infirmity thirty-eight years.
When Jesus saw him lying there, and knew that he already had been in that condition a long time, He said to him, “Do you want to be made well?”
The sick man answered Him, “Sir, I have no man to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up; but while I am coming, another steps down before me.”
Jesus said to him, “Rise, take up your bed and walk.”
[John 5:2-8 NKJV]
‘Bethesda’ means ‘house of kindness’, ‘house of mercy’, or ‘flowing water’, and knowing this immediately takes us back to the encounter with the Samaritan woman in chapter 4. At Bethesda, we see that the waters have great healing properties, and yet here is a man, who it appears had suffered his infirmity for 38 years and was still unwell.
The King James Version describes the man as ‘impotent’ and that Jesus asks him “Wilt thou be made whole?” This wording encompasses a greater state than being made well. The word is the same*, but has been changed from whole to well, perhaps to reflect a more modern perspective.
‘Whole’ has more of a sense of completeness, of a perfect healing and of a return to be as God created. The angel that ‘stirred up the water’ suggests that the still waters in the Pool became the ‘flowing water’ of the name, and that this purification came from that stirring up and promoted healing — interestingly, only to the first to step into the water. This speaks of those who are seeking to be whole with everything in them ...
So he answered and said, “‘You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind,’ and ‘your neighbour as yourself.’ ”
[Luke 10:27 NKJV]
The man claimed that he was too infirm to get to the waters ahead of the others and no one to help him; but Jesus merely told the man to get up and walk. There was no fuss, no special touch, just a command. “Rise.” Jesus always goes right to the heart of the problem; and perhaps this man believed himself unwell; had convinced himself of his infirmities, and was filled with a spirit of self-pity. It seems so.
Jesus is with us today and if we trust in Him, every time we fall back on our own strength, or lack of it, and let the enemy begin to rule in us, all we need is a word from Jesus. And the word is ‘Rise!’
* g5199 ὑγιής hygiēs; meaning healthy, i.e. well (in body); figuratively, true (in doctrine): — sound, whole.
A God who did not know the last depth of sorrow and suffering would be a God “whom to be God is not fit.”