Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 12 (1897)


Ms 191, 1897

The Miracle at Bethesda, Part 1


February 24, 1897 [typed]

Previously unpublished.

“After this, there was a feast of the Jews; and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. Now there is at Jerusalem by the sheep market a pool, which is called in the Hebrew tongue Bethesda, having five porches. In these lay a great multitude of impotent folk, of blind, halt, withered, waiting for the moving of the water.” [John 5:1-3.] 12LtMs, Ms 191, 1897, par. 1

At certain seasons the waters of the pool were agitated, and it was commonly believed that this was the result of supernatural power, and that whoever first after the troubling of the pool stepped into the waters would be healed of whatever disease he had. Hundreds of sufferers visited the pool in hope when the wonderful period should arrive, it would bring life and health to them. But many were disappointed. They would creep to the edge of the pool and lie upon its brink waiting for the moving of the water, only to see another step in before them and gain the blessing they coveted. 12LtMs, Ms 191, 1897, par. 2

Jesus, walking alone in apparent mediation ad prayer, came to the pool. He saw the wretched sufferers waiting and watching for that which they supposed would be their only chance of relief. Those suffering souls did not know that there was among them One who is always ready to hear the cry of the oppressed, the suffering, and the sorrowing: One to whom they could go and find immediate relief. Christ longed to exercise his healing power in their behalf. He longed to pour his healing waters into every soul, to make every sufferer whole. But it was the Sabbath day. Multitudes were going to the temple for worship, and Christ well knew that such an act would cut his work short. The prejudice of the Jews against him and his work was strong, and they greatly desired to find something whereby they might accuse him and put him to death. 12LtMs, Ms 191, 1897, par. 3

But Christ sees one case of supreme wretchedness. It is that of a man who has been a helpless cripple for thirty-eight years. Those who pitied his helplessness would bear him to the porches at the time when it was expected that the waters would be troubled. But at the favored moment he has no one to help him in. He has seen the rippling of the water, but has never been able to get farther than the edge of the pool. Others stronger than himself would plunge in before him and seize the coveted opportunity. 12LtMs, Ms 191, 1897, par. 4

“When Jesus saw him lie, and knew that he had been now a long time in that case, he saith unto him, Wilt thou be made whole?” [Verse 6.] The sick man was lying on his mat, and occasionally lifting his head to gaze at the pool that contained what he thought to be life-giving power, when the words of Jesus, spoken in tones of the tenderest sympathy and compassion, reached his senses. 12LtMs, Ms 191, 1897, par. 5

“Wilt thou be made whole?” Had he not been coming to this pool for years, in the hope of being cured of his disease? Had he not longed and hoped, waited and prayed, only to be disappointed? But the tender, compassionate face now bonding over him, and the words, “Wilt thou be made whole,” arrested his attention. That face and those words brought hope to his discouraged heart. He felt that in some way he was to have help. With piteous yearning of soul he answered, “Sir, I have no man, when the water is troubled, to put me into the pool: but while I am coming another steppeth down before me.” [Verse 7.] 12LtMs, Ms 191, 1897, par. 6

Christ did not require an evidence of faith as a condition of receiving his mercy. He simply said to the man, “Rise, take up thy bed, and walk.” [Verse 8.] With the words of Christ, hope revived in the heart of the sufferer. He felt every nerve and muscle thrill, and healthful action came to his crippled limbs. Without question he put his will to work to obey the word of Christ. All his muscles responded to his will, and springing to his feet, he finds himself an active man. He is sound, and no longer a cripple. 12LtMs, Ms 191, 1897, par. 7

This act should have been sufficient evidence to the Jews that Christ was the world’s Redeemer, the Son of God. But the scribes and Pharisees, by their prejudice, their unbelief, and opposition, had firmly closed the door of their hearts against him. All the evidence that was given them, they turned against Christ. They were determined not to receive him. 12LtMs, Ms 191, 1897, par. 8

Rolling up his mat and blanket, the healed man went his way with joy and ease, while Jesus quietly passed on his way. The man, filled with gratitude that he had been made whole, could not refrain from telling all with whom he came in contact of the wonderful work that had be wrought for him. He who had been borne to the pool a helpless sufferer now leaves it in perfect soundness, healed. 12LtMs, Ms 191, 1897, par. 9

In his first visit to Nazareth Jesus had announced his mission to earth. Entering the synagogue as was his custom on the Sabbath day, he stood up to read. “And there was delivered unto him the book of the prophet Esaias. And when he had opened the book, he found the place where it was written, The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the broken hearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised. To preach the acceptable year of the Lord.” [Luke 4:17-19.] 12LtMs, Ms 191, 1897, par. 10

This case of healing was within the sphere of Christ’s labor. His work was to care for the friendless, the suffering, the hopeless, and to heal the broken-hearted. As the great Physician he possessed infinite wisdom to reach the diseases of both body and soul. And whatever be the evil practice, the master passion which through long indulgence binds both soul and body, He is able, and longs to deliver. He will do his utmost to set free the captive that is held by weakness. 12LtMs, Ms 191, 1897, par. 11