The Tale of Two Pools

“Now there is in Jerusalem by the Sheep Gate a pool, in Aramaic called Bethesda, which has five roofed colonnades. In these lay a multitude of invalids—blind, lame, and paralyzed. One man was there who had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. (John 5:2-5; ESV)

“…And said to him, ‘Go, wash in the pool of Siloam’ (which means Sent). So he went and washed and came back seeing.” (John 9:7; ESV)

The miracle pool of Bethesda was situated about as far north in the old city of Jerusalem as one could travel and still remain within the immediate borders. Until the 19th century the exact location of the Bethesda Pool remained elusive. However, in 1888 the archeologist Conrad Schick discovered a large reservoir with two smaller adjoining pools and five porches just outside the northern Temple wall. The find was immediately determined to be the same Pool of Bethesda mentioned in the Gospel of John. The physical appearance fit the biblical description. In 1964 further excavation confirmed the dig indeed was the place of healing for the invalid man in John 5.

In 2005 archeologist discovered another elusive freshwater reservoir, the pool of Siloam. Its location is as far south as one can travel and still be considered within Jerusalem’s borders. It lies just outside the ancient walls of the old city. To get there from the Temple the walker must journey south through the ancient streets of the City of David.

As far apart, north and south, as these two pools were in location within first century old Jerusalem, so too are the miracles of the invalid and the blind men at opposite ends of the spectrum in significance and meaning. The first man gained his infirmity from a life of sin. Jesus noted the other man was born with blindness apart from iniquity. Bethesda’s miracle recipient was received back into his religion while Siloam’s beneficiary was excommunicated. In fact, about the only similarity between the two incidents is that God would receive His due glory from both.

What an excellent picture of the love and grace of God to man! No matter what end of the spectrum of life you may find yourself on, the Savior’s miraculous work is never to far away for His travels. Hey—if the distance from heaven to earth is not too far to journey, surely any expanse He must trek to reach you and I He’ll find well worth the enterprise. Nothing is too great an expanse that He is not willing to bridge by His powerful atoning work. And though you and I may be very different in personality and profile, yet, in both our cases Jesus is able to get the glory of the Father working through our lives. If He were willing to travel the breadth of Jerusalem to help two very different men in need, surely His desire is to spend just a few moments on what is necessary for us.

J. Robert Hanson


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