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Archive for the ‘Pool of Bethesda’ Category

I had an operation on my wrist last week, and find that the restricted movement that has been imposed upon me for the next 10 days means I’m looking for things I can do without causing too much pain. I decided video editing was a safe thing to do – use one hand, point and click. Okay there have been a few moments when I’ve forgotten and tried to hold a button down, but the sharp pain up my arm reminds me it’s not the thing to do! Anyway, I’ve put together a short video of my trip to Israel and include it here to give you a flavour not only of the trip, but also of the sights and sounds of land.

 

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Next we moved on to the other side of the Kidron Valley to the Old City of Jerusalem itself.    Entering through Herod’s Gate, and walking through the Muslim Quarter, we arrived at St Anne’s Church.   This is a Crusader Church, (1140 AD) and looks rather like a fortress.    Tradition says that the original Byzantine church (438 AD) was built over a cave which had been part of the home of Joachim and Anne, the parents of Mary.   During the Ottoman period the church was used as an Islamic Theological School, but Christians were still allowed to enter the crypt where it was said that Mary was born.   The acoustic of the church is amazing, and even our small group sounded like a large choir.

Pool of Bethesda

Pool of Bethesda

Close by is the Pool of Bethesda.  I had always kind of thought of the Pool of Bethesda being like a pond, but in Jesus’ day this was something large, impressive and obviously well known.   It was 100 metres by 50 metres and over 6 meters deep.   It was carved out of the rock and had two separate pools.   There were five colonnades – one on each of the four sides, and another between the two pools.  Originally built as a reservoir, the water was believed to have therapeutic qualities.   (Over part of the pool a church had been built in the 5th century, which was destroyed in the 7th, and parts of that church can still be seen in the pool area, which is now empty of water).  

It was here, at the Pool of Bethesda, that John records Jesus healed the man who had been paralysed for 38 years.   Legend had it that an angel stirred the waters, and if the sick entered it, they were healed.   As we stood and listened to the reading from John 5:1-15, I was struck by a couple of things.  

  • Jesus asked the man – “Do you want to be healed?”  (“Do you want to be made whole?”)  And the man doesn’t even respond to the question; he starts to tell his story of loneliness and disappointment – “I have no-one to help me…”  These were words that jumped out at me.   No one is helping me.   It’s not my fault.   Everybody else is to blame for my situation.  … …   Perhaps Jesus is teaching us something here:  some healing is up to us. Sometimes we need to take the focus off ourselves and the problems round which we see our lives revolve, stop blaming other people, and focus on Jesus, because only then can we be made whole.   
  • Yes, Jesus healed him physically, but it was bigger than that, and when Jesus finds him in the Temple later, he tells him “You are whole …” Physically and spiritually this man had a new start in life.   When I heard the next part of the reading “sin no more, or something worse may happen to you”, I didn’t hear it as a threat but recognition that this man was at a turning point in his life, and that his life could go one way or another.    As Jesus tells him to “sin no more, or something worse may happen to you”, did the man see this as too difficult a thing to do?  Did he feel it would be too difficult to change his ways?   Is that why he departed from Jesus, and told the authorities it was Jesus who had healed him?  In effect, that it was Jesus who had made him break the Sabbath law by healing him and telling him to carry his mat. … …   Again he was saying “it wasn’t my fault”.   He was still blaming someone else, still not wanting the responsibility.   Is this the something worse that happened to him – that he went back to his old ways and in so doing, knowingly turned away from Jesus, the one who offers healing and wholeness? 

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