Bethesda

Now there is in Jerusalem by the Sheep Gate a pool, in Aramaic called Bethesda (or Bethsaida), which has five roofed colonnades. In these lay a multitude of invalids—blind, lame, and paralyzed. John 5:2-3

There is a Bethesda in Maryland, USA, located just northwest of Washington, D.C. It takes its name from a local church, the Bethesda Meeting House (1820, rebuilt in 1849), which in turn took its name from Jerusalem’s Pool of Bethesda (Bethsaida in some versions of the Bible). 

There is another Bethesda within the Maryland Bethesda that I know very well. My Daddy was hospitalized for five months in the Bethesda Naval Hospital. He died in that hospital at his young age of 46 from Pancreatic Cancer in 1960. It will be 60 years September 18, 2020.

This was the hospital in 1960. If my memory serves me right, Daddy was up on one of those upper floors. When I read the name, Bethesda, in the Book of John, I think of that five month period of our lives. There are so many memories: good, hard, sweet, sorrowful.

The photo below is more like what it looks today.

It is now the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center (WRNMMC). It is the combined legacy of National Naval Medical Center (once referred to as the Bethesda Naval Hospital and/or Navy Med) and Walter Reed Army Medical Center, having brought the two medical facilities together in September of 2011, as decreed by the Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) law of 2005. Currently, this is a United States’ tri-service (Army, Navy, Air Force) military medical center, located in the community of Bethesda, Maryland. It is one of the most prominent U.S. military medical centers in the United States, having served numerous U.S. presidents since the 20th century. It is also near the headquarters of the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

~

Many find healing at this huge hospital complex. Others wait to get into the pool of stirred waters for some kind of healing. And others die there. No matter where on that spectrum one finds themselves, this hospital is a place for healing. That is its purpose…to find ways into and through diseases even though the physical healing may not occur for some such as my father. Yet this Bethesda is still a place for hope.

Heal me, O Lord, and I will be healed;
Save me and I will be saved,
For You are my praise.
Jeremiah 17:14

In pondering Bethesda, the pool in Jerusalem, I found my mind and heart wrapping around this incredible place where healing took place in Jerusalem. It was around this pool where Jesus healed.

Βηθεσδά

bēthesda

a pool (a pond or bath), which is called in Hebrew, Bethesda – the house of mercy, house of kindness, place for receiving and caring for the sick; flowing waters, the waters of which had curative powers

From the Commentary on John 5 by Matthew Henry: …for therein appeared much of the mercy of God to the sick and diseased. In a world of so much misery as this is, it is well that there are some Bethesdas – houses of mercy (remedies against those maladies), that the scene is not all melancholy.

Also, from the Commentary on John 5 by Matthew Henry: Bethesda …had five porches, cloisters, piazzas, or roofed walks, in which the sick lay. Thus the charity of men concurred with the mercy of God for the relief of the distressed. Nature has provided remedies, but men must provide hospitals.

One man was there who had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him lying there and knew that he had already been there a long time, He said to him, “Do you want to be healed?” The sick man answered him, “Sir, I have no one to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up, and while I am going another steps down before me.” Jesus said to him, “Get up, take up your bed, and walk.” And at once the man was healed, and he took up his bed and walked. Now that day was the Sabbath. John 5:5-9

This man did not have to get into the waters that day. He did not need to depend upon another person to place him in the pool which he obviously did each time the pool was stirred. Jesus healed this man after years and years of waiting. He was a patient man, to say the least. Jesus spoke the words and the man got up on his own at once. At once, he believed. At once, he was no longer an invalid. He could walk. There was no lifting or trying to get up. He could take up his own bed. At once, he obeyed. He did not know Who he obeyed at that moment, but he soon found out the man that spoke the words was the Christ.

At once…his physical health and, presumably, his spiritual health were healed.

We are always wanting a cure for that which ails us. Those physical issues gnaw at our minds until we can find out what is going on. We are all staring down the barrel of COVID-19 right now and want all of the answers yesterday. We want to “get back to normal.” We want to have the medical profession tell us the right answer without any mistakes on a disease we have never had before. When they error and then correct themselves once they know differently, we are upset that they did not tell us that the first time. They are doing all within their power to find the answers and give us the straight-up truth. It is just hard…real hard right now. Any time we are awaiting a diagnosis, a way forward for treatment, a healing, it can be hard.

Do these scenarios play out in our spiritual lives as well? Do we want to just be healed immediately without patiently waiting and trusting in the One Who heals? The Lord guides us, teaches us, feeds us His Truth. Do we want to have it all yesterday so we can just get up and walk? Do we depend upon our pastors to teach us the Truth that they have been given by the Holy Spirit? Do we allow fellow-laymen to care for us as we wait and watch, listen and learn, pray and be prayed over? Do we allow them to provide the hospitals, the houses of mercy, while we wait? Or do we have that short attention span, wanting it all now? Do we obey or expect cures, answers without any obedience on our part?

He heals the brokenhearted
and binds up their wounds.
Psalm 147:3

“…For I am the LORD who heals you.” Exodus 15:26b

יְהֹוָה

Yehovah

Jehovah, the Lord, Yahweh, the Existing One

רָפָא

rapha’

to cure:—cure, (cause to) heal, physician, repair, thoroughly, make whole

Jehovah Rapha – The LORD Who heals

Both, in the Old Testament and the New Testament, Jehovah Rapha is present, healing both physically, emotionally, and spiritually. He is with us today.

The LORD sustains him on his sickbed;
in his illness You restore him to full health
. Psalm 41:3

Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits, Who forgives all your iniquity, Who heals all your diseases,... Psalm 103:2-3

And His name—by faith in His name—has made this man strong whom you see and know, and the faith that is through Jesus has given the man this perfect health in the presence of you all. Acts 3:16

Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing praise. Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working. James 5:13-16

~

Father God, thank You for being willing to heal us of our broken bodies, our broken hearts, our broken spirits. Thank You for forgiving us our daily trespasses and giving us our daily bread. May we seek You in all ways, coming from a heart that is tender toward You and toward our brothers and sisters. May we draw near to You no matter what our circumstances may be. I pray I stay on the path that You have directed for my life. May I be obedient to Your commands, humble to Your call. “But He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness. May I boast gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” I also pray…”For He was crucified in weakness, but lives by the power of God. For (I am) also weak in Him, but in dealing with (others) (I) will live with Him by the power of God.”** In the Strong Name of Jesus. Amen.

Graphic/Map of “Pools of Jerusalem. Shows area north of temple mount. Photo by Leon Mauldin.”

Photo of “Excavations at the Pool of Bethesda. Photo by Leon Mauldin”

Photo of Bethesda Meeting House; English Wikipedia User: by Daniel Case

Postcard of Bethesda Naval Hospital

Photo of Walter Reed National Military Medical Center: Wikimedia Commons

Graphic: Jehovah-Rapha

** 2 Corinthians 12:9, 2 Corinthians 13:4

15 thoughts on “Bethesda

  1. Thank-you for sharing your story of your Dad’s care at Bethesda Naval Hospital. It had to be difficult to lose him when he was still young–and so were you–with limited ability to visit. I have learned in my own family that God walks with us in the hard times. Sometimes our dear ones are physically healed (my grandson) and some pass to eternal life (my son). I did not connect Bethesda, Maryland with the Biblical place of healing. I so enjoyed how you wove this story. And I agree wholeheartedly with your prayer.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’ve never made the name connection between the hospital in our Bethesda and the one in the Bible, but what a perfect connection. I’m so sorry you lost your dad there. He was so young. Yes, I am often eager for immediate healing, yet the Lord usually tempers me with the need for more patience. Grateful for his grace in all things.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Mandy Farmer

    Having dealt with chronic pain for going on 10 years these stories always hit close to home for me. I loved how you connected all the different places of Bethesda

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Linda, wow, I never thought about this story in quite the way I have after reading your post. First of all, I realized that this man trying to get to the pool when the waters were stirred meant that he still had hope of healing, even after 38 years. And the waiting . . . it seems like God teaches the most impacting lessons when we wait for His response.

    I loved this post, Linda.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Dear Linda,
    Thank you for these comforting words. It is so easy in this day and age, to just think that we should have everything “cured” immediately–it seems like waiting and patience have become an ugly word. But what precious thoughts here, to think of how patiently that man had been waiting, until the day that Jesus said “NOW!” I am joining you in your prayer today. May I be “obedient to His commands, and humble to His call.”

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Joanne Viola

    Linda, thank you for this post which I needed and its words encouraged my soul. I am so very grateful our God is able to strengthen us to endure in the midst of every challenging circumstance. I am praying that my family and I “stay on the path that You have directed for my life. May we be obedient to Your commands, humble to Your call.” Thank you for taking the time to put this post together. Blessings!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I was thinking along these lines in regard to the coronavirus. So many people just want to be done with it, understandably. But it takes time. God can heal instantly–but often He takes us through a process. It’s my prayer that He will use all the strange things happening in the world to day to draw people to Himself.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Maryleigh Bucher

    I love how you explain The Houses of Mercy – and it made me think of the healing houses included in The Lord of the Rings. Have you been to Israel? I’d like to go one day – and see the places Jesus went, the pool – the crippled man healed. It must have been so hard when your dad was in the hospital – I know how hard it was when my husband was in there last year. Our hospital was over an hour away, so the boys weren’t able to come visit except for the big surgeries – they never saw him right after the procedures. You write: “May we draw near to You no matter what our circumstances may be. I pray I stay on the path that You have directed for my life” – and I am so glad that it is by His strength that we can stay on that path! Thank you for this encouragement during these challenging times! Shalom, Linda! ~ Maryleigh

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for stopping by, reading this post, Maryleigh. I have not been to Israel. My husband, Kenneth, had been with his sister in the 80s, long before we met. He always wanted to take me. Now, I really do need to read The Lord of the Rings. It is on my list, just have not gotten to them all. Daddy had Cobalt treatments back then…only treatment available for pancreatic cancer. After a treatment, they put up this thick wall at the doorway to his room and on Sunday (only days children could visit) we were to stand behind it to say hi. Daddy could not stand that so he and Mom decided we could go in to hug him and be close to him. Kind of like COVID-19 and patients who cannot have visitors. If I got harmed from Cobalt in 1960, I am still alive today! Anyway, glad you came by. And may we continue to draw near to our Healing Physician.

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