There was a pool in Jerusalem during the time of Christ that was called Bethesda. In Hebrew the word Bethesda could mean either House of Mercy or House of Grace. In Aramaic the word could mean shame or disgrace. During this time the pool was believed to have special healing powers. People believed that when the waters were stirred that you would receive healing if only you were the first one in the pool.
Well Jesus shows up (John 5:1-15) at this pool to find a man who has been an invalid for 38 years! For 38 years this man has tried to get well through his own efforts. I can picture him trying to drag himself to the edge of the pool once the waters started to move, thinking to himself that “maybe today I will succeed and be made right“. The bible says the man tells Jesus that no one will help him when it’s time get in the water and consequently he is pushed out of the way by others. 38 years of frustration! I would imagine that he has become bitter towards others because they won’t help him in his struggle.
Then Jesus ask him the question “Do you want to get well?”. Obviously the man wants to become healed, he has tried for 38 years! I love that the pool’s name has two meanings – Mercy and Disgrace. Here is this man who society would label as shamed or disgraced because of a physical disability. Everyone would have judged him on appearance that either he or his parents caused this condition due to sin. All this man wants to do is remove the shame. So Jesus already knows that he wanted to be made physically well; He’s asking him about the condition of his heart. Jesus replies to the man’s answer with “Get up! Pick up your mat and walk.”
How many times do try to be made right with God? We can struggle with sin in our lives for years, crawling toward some kind of perceived hope. The truth is that no matter what we do on our own, like the invalid, we will never be able to make it to the pool of Mercy. Jesus is the only one who can heal our Disgrace and our Shame. Jesus didn’t care what the man had done, he simply ask “Do you want to get well?”. He is still asking us today, “Do you want to get well?”. He wants to take you by the hand and say “Get up!”. He wants to take what others judge to be your pool of disgrace and turn it into what you will see as an Ocean of Mercy!