Greetings, pilgrims. Today we stop at the Pool of Bethesda. This place is in the heart of Jerusalem, near the Sheep Gate pool, called in Aramaic, Bethesda. It’s located on the eastern side of the city near the Fortress of Antonia. The name Bethesda means “house of mercy.” The water source was a nearby spring and this was the actual place Jesus healed the man who was paralyzed for thirty-eight years. Recent archaeological discoveries have again confirmed the Biblical account that there were five porches and the fifth one divided the rectangular pool into two separate compartments.
The Biblical account is found John 5:1-6—The man was paralyzed for 38 years and lived in this ‘colony’ of disabled people: blind, lame, paralyzed. This man had gotten used to his circumstances, so much that he was not expecting to ever walk again. He had seen many people healed—legend notes that ‘from time to time the angel of the Lord’ would come down and stir the waters, the first one to step into the pool would be cured of whatever disease he had. The question Jesus asked him was in verse 6, “Do you want to get well?”
The paralytic man had to admit his condition. For 38 years, he had seen others healed… the blind, the lame, the paralyzed. And then, Jesus asked him, “Do you want to get well?” It seemed like an obvious question. Jesus encouraged the paralyzed man to recognize his need and call out to the only One who could heal.
Emotionally and spiritually, some believers don’t even know we are paralyzed. We get used to limping along and are handicapped by the fact that we might be covering up our issues. For years, I tried to turn away from my past, it was too much for me to handle. My late husband, Pastor Paul and I grew weary of putting on the front that we were the perfect couple with no problems. We wanted a church and other believers who wanted the same honesty, Pastor Paul wanted to help other men. Pastor Paul said “Yes” to God and decided to share his struggle and victory over internet pornography. This opened up many doors for Pastor Paul to share with other men where they could get help to find their own freedom.
At our previous ministry, I privately shared one-on-one with other women, in counseling through Neil Anderson’s Freedom in Christ – 7 Steps to Freedom. The big picture of God’s plan for my past came together when I publicly shared about my years as a rebellious and promiscuous teenager, alcoholic, drug addict, and drug dealer. I told them how I had heard and believed – 1 Peter 4:8 – how God’s love covered a multitude of my sins. When God asked, “Are you willing to do whatever it takes to get well?” I said,“Yes, I want to get well.”
The paralyzed man made excuses about why he couldn’t get well, he said no one would help him. Jesus said in verse 8, “Get up! Pick up your mat and walk.” Get moving! Like the paralyzed man, none of us need to stay stuck. I made excuses for my addictions, co-dependency, people-pleasing actions and hiding how I felt because I was afraid of what other people would think. I faced my wounds and losses and allowed the blood of Jesus to cover all of it.
What about you, what’s preventing you from getting over your past?
Sickness/Guilt/Loss/Addiction/Abuse/Abortion/ Affair/Shame/Christian Perfectionism
Purpose Driven Pastor Rick Warren says,
“We are all products of our past, but we don’t have to be prisoners of it.”
In May of 2004, it seemed I was impenetrable, my speaking ministry was beginning to grow, my husband and I were getting settled into our new pastorate, my kids were beginning to be more independent, everything was going along great… and then…. I found a lump underneath my left eye.
I had lots of tests, blood work, cat scans, full body tests and a biopsy that said I had cancer, more thorough tests showed I had lymphoma underneath my eyelid but also in the bone marrow of my right arm, shoulder, elbow and left femur… I was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer.
Even at the beginning of my cancer treatments, we decided to keep our forward focus, to get moving and we enrolled in a local seminary to begin our postgraduate work.
Do not call to mind the former things or ponder the things of the past, behold I will do something new, it will spring forth, will you not take notice of it? Isaiah 43:5
Jesus told the man twice to “Pick up your mat and walk.” His mat was where he spent his whole life. THE MAT became his platform, it was what gave him the right to share his story. Jesus told him, “You are well…” and the man went away and told the Jews that it was Jesus who made him well.
If the Son has set you free, you shall be free indeed. John 8:36
Liz Curtis Higgs says, “Sharing with others your shameful past and God’s glorious grace doesn’t bind you to your past – it frees you from it’s power to hurt you any longer.”
Each time I share the story of how God healed my addictions, how God healed me of cancer, it frees me from its power to hurt me. Saying “Yes!” to God gives hope to others that God’s grace and mercy provides this same freedom for whatever is paralyzing.
Today, call out to God from the places you’ve been paralyzed, no matter how long you’ve been there and say:
“God, YES I want to GET WELL!”
“God, YES help me to GET MOVING”
“God , YES use me to GET TALKING.”
Don’t miss tomorrow’s sights: Temple of Anne (Mother of Jesus – Mary’s mother’s residence), Caiphas’ Residence, and the Sacred Pit