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allude to them. In these miraculous waters was a sign that God had not entirely forsaken his chosen people; and, besides, they were an emblem of that fountain which was about to be “ opened for sin and for uncleanness.”
No doubt, this pool had been a house of mercy to many, who had here found a cure without money and without price. And happy was he who, after long watching and frequent efforts, at length felt himself surrounded by the troubled water, whose healing virtue passed quickly through his system, and gave strength and soundness to his withered frame. : It was the sabbath day when Jesus passed this scene of human suffering. His eye glanced at the anxious patients waiting for the favoured season, when one amongst them might again rejoice in the fulness of health.
What a gathering of afflicted creatures did he now behold! “A great multitude of impotent folk, of blind, halt, withered, waiting for the moving of the water;" and but one to be healed at a time! What a variety of disease was here, which had baffled all human skill! and now, regarded as incurable by man, they had, as their last hope, sought to these waters for relief.
The entrance of a stranger into the porches would hardly be noticed, as the afflicted lay along the margin of the pool, with eyes intently watching for the first motion of the water.
Around Bethesda's healing wave,
Waiting to hear the rustling wing,
Its virtue to that holy spring,
Had they, who watched and waited there,
Been conscious who was passing by,
Would they have sought his pitying eye,
His power Divine, to make them whole !
who had lost the use of his limbs. For eight and thirty years he had been thus afflicted; not that we are to suppose he had lain all that time by the side of the pool; and yet, perhaps, here from day to day, and from year to year, he had taken his place in the fond hope that he too might find a
He had seen others, who had lain by his side, depart to their homes with joy. Many whose cases had been as bad as his own, had been healed; and though frequent disappointment had almost led to despair, he still clung to the hope, that there might come a favoured hour when he also should realize the blessing.
Jesus beheld the afflicted group, and he selected this poor man to be the object on whom to work a miracle : he knew how long he had been in this state, and he now approached to deliver him. How strange was the question he proposed : “ Wilt thou be made whole ?" Why, this had been the long cherished wish of his heart; did he intend to mock him ? Yet there was something so kind in the manner of the stranger, that he was encouraged to reply, “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. He could but drag himself along; he had no one willing to assist him, nor had he money to pay for help; others, therefore, easily obtained the cure before him. And yet
the question may have aroused his hope. Who can tell but, after all, here may be a friend who will assist me to the waters the next time they are moved ? He little thought he was telling his touching tale to Him who gave the pool its virtue, and who could as easily remove his affliction without its waters as with them. Deliverance was nearer than he conceived. Jesus looked on him with love and pity, and with a gracious voice said, Rise, take up thy bed, and walk.” He who gave the command, gave
power to obey, and the man arose in an instant, and found himself made whole. The first thoughts and feelings which broke on his mind, as he found himself standing erect before his Deliverer, can be only faintly conceived by us. “Is it a reality ? or is it only a pleasant dream? Are these my limbs, that a moment ago were shrunk and destitute of strength ? After eight and thirty years of feebleness and pain, do I again feel health nerve my frame, and cheer my heart? Oh! this is wonderful beyond expression !". It has been remarked, that our Lord, after
performing a miracle, was accustomed to connect some circumstance with it, which attested its truth. After the miracle of the five loaves, he ordered the fragments to be collected, which were more in quantity than the loaves themselves, though several thousands had been fed. When he changed the water into wine, he ordered some to be taken first to the steward of the feast, that he might taste it, and bear testimony to its being truly wine. When he cured the leper, he commanded him to show himself to the priest, whose business it was to judge of the cure. So here, he deemed it necessary, after having cured this infirm man, to order him not only to arise, but to take up his bed, and walk, in proof that he was restored.
It is also worthy of notice, that Christ, after he had restored an afflicted person, often gave a word of caution or advice : it was “a word in season."
He did so in this case. The first use the man made of his restored strength was to hasten to the temple—there, most likely, to present a thank-offering for his unexpected recovery. In the temple he met his gracious Deliverer, and hastened towards him to repeat his expressions of gratitude, when this solemn charge was given to him, “Sin no more, lest a worse thing come unto thee.”
It supposes that the affliction had been the punishment for the sins of his early days. So it has been with thousands: a prodigal and sinful course in youth has made miserable the rest of their days. They have been “made to possess the sins of their youth.”
Advice from so great a Benefactor, given at such a time, when the heart was softened with a sense of undeserved mercy, would surely never be forgotten. It was as though Jesus had said to him, “ Behold the compassion of God towards you ;
instead of being left to linger in misery to the day of your death, the Divine power has been put forth for your recovery.
You are now perfectly free from disease; but remember, if you return again to sin, the anger of God will be so provoked against you, that your soul will be certainly lost for ever. Was it, then, possible that he could ever forget his wonderful restoration to health, that he needed this solemn admonition? Yes; there was a danger of his return to the sins of his early days. Our Lord knew this : he knew what deceit and wickedness are in the human heart; and that many have lived to forget their vows made on recovery, and have at last died in their sins. Let us learn that sin is the cause of all our pain, and of death : if we are mercifully raised from affliction, we should be watchful against sin in the time to come; nor should we forget that worse judgments will fall on those who sin after mercy received.
The pool of Bethesda has long ceased to flow; no angel is now sent from heaven to dispense a cure to the afflicted children of men ; the Saviour no more walks the earth in human form; yet we may sing with the poet :
Saviour, thy love is still the same
As when that healing word was spoke ;
Dwells power to burst the strongest yoke.
that love displayed ; Help those, whom thou alone canst aid. The ability of Christ to heal is not like the pool of Bethesda, at uncertain, and, perhaps, at distant intervals; but every hour, of every day, in every age it remains the same. Bethesda could only heal one at a time: how many were disappointed, for every one that was cured ! Jesus saves all who come unto him. The pool was for the diseases of the body; it could not cleanse the spirit of a man: Jesus is the “ Fountain opened for sin and for uncleanness.” He cleanses the soul from all guilt and pollution.
Instead of discerning in this miracle the evidence that Christ was the Messiah, the Jews
persecuted him, and sought to slay him, because he had done these things on the sabbath