The Pool of Bethesda
By Timothy Roettger
For thirty eight years I had carried a burden. This year, this day was no different. I had wanted to be free of this burden. I had struggled without hope. I had muscled all I had to try to be free of this pain. This crippled state.
I can’t even begin to explain to you what it was like to have hope dashed and broken day after day. I had one opportunity to be free of this burden. The pool Bethesda. It wasn’t a grand site. In fact it had the stench that came with sheep, many sheep. It was fitting for a man like me. My brother Jews looked scornfully on me as I lay there. Always staring and wondering what sin brought me to this physical state. Always looking on me with malice and contempt. An angel came daily to stir the waters of the pool. The first to get in after the waters were stired, that one was healed. I have seen many healed of their sickness and disease. I have saw the blind see, the lame walk. I have seen many things. It was always amazing to me what they did once they were healed. It was as they immediately attempted to fit in with the rest of the Jews. They treated the sick and hurt with the same contempt that they themselves had been treated with only moments prior. You would think one would have mercy on me and help me into the pool. I had no one and nothing. Not even my parents had been willing to help me over the years.
It was in that day that I scorned the God of heaven who had made me this way. His servants, my brothers the Jews, had treated me with such contempt. What had I done to deserve this. It was more times then I care to remember that I had broken down in those dusty smelly streets, among the stench of sheep that I would weep aloud. 38 years have I been in this condition. 38 years had my pain been made a public spectacle. And it was the “Servants of the Most High God” who treated me this way. The one thing I was grateful for was the inability to walk to this temple to worship this loving God.
But there was a day when all this changed. It was the Sabbath. And once again I had camped out the night before one of the porches next the the pool. I was hopping to be able to be the first in on that morning. But once again I had missed. My hope had come to its end. it was about mid day, and I had no one to help me to my home. Since it was the Sabbath no one was willing to lift a finger to help me, they were all afraid it would be considered work. But down the way I saw a man approach. This man did not have the same malice on his face. There wasn’t a scornful glair in his eyes. There was something that I had not seen in all my life in that man’s face. If I hadn’t known better I would have said it was love. There was something about this man that I couldn’t touch on. As he approached I expected him to turn back or pass by. As I watched this man, I noticed the so called “Servants of God” were looking upon this man with the same content that they looked at me with. I wondered what sin this man had committed to get the treatment of a lowly crippled. This man came closer to me, and then finally stopped and looked upon me. There was a smile on his face and even love in his eyes, and yes it was love. How could he sit there and look at one such as I. Then the unspeakable happened. He bent down to be eye and eye with me and he put his hand on my shoulder. This man had done what so many others had not. This man had touched me. It was a taboo. The faces of the Pharisees became filled with more anger then I had ever seen. It was as if they knew something big was going to happen and it gave me hope. As this man looked at me his face changed from Joy to concern. It was as if this man knew, or was experiencing all the pain I had felt these 38 years. Maybe he would offer to help me into the pool the next day. Then this man spoke to me. The warmth and love in this man’s life were more then I could handle. This man asked me “Do you want to be made Well?” It was all I could do to contain myself and I answered this man “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.” Such compassion was in this man’s voice as he returned with words that spoke life to my crippled body “Rise, take up your bed and walk.”
It was in that moment that my legs gained strength and as I reached to grab the hand that this man held out, I felt strength in my legs and I was able to gather myself up and stand. I did as this man had said and gathered my things and began to walk. I cannot begin to describe to you the joy I felt at that moment. Such a great feeling. And as I began to walk I was stopped by these Pharisees and was questioned over my performing work by carrying my bed. I spoke only to them that “He who made me well said to me ‘Take up your bed and walk.'” They answered with such anger “Who is this man that said to you ‘Take up your bed and walk’?” It was in that moment that I realized I didn’t know even the name of this man who made me well. I rushed home to drop off my bed and went back to where I last saw this man. To my joy I found this man in the distance and followed him as he made his way to the temple. As I watched him I saw what love and joy he spread and even spoke of about God. For the first time I was wanting to enter into the temple to follow after this man. I was sure that if ever there was a man of God it was this man. As I entered in this man saw me and came my way. It was then that I knew this was the man Jesus who so much had been spoken of. The reason the Pharisees had such malice toward this man was because he attacked there entire way of living. He attacked their status by informing the people that all were loved by God and that God had concern for each one. This Jesus, his ways were not of rituals and religious followings. They were of love and faith. This began to open a whole new realm for me. When Jesus came to me he spoke only words in love that separated my anger and my contempt at God. “See you have been made well. Sin no more, lest a worse thing come upon you.” He separated my sin. He showed me that my sickness was not the sin. I became a disciple of this Jesus that day. And like so many others in the pool who had been healed I did not become like my brothers the Jews and try to fit in. I knew that this way of love was God’s way. This love goes against the grain. But it is God’s way. And to my Joy this is the way I shall follow.