Two Pool Healings

Two Pool Healings

two pool healings
The city of Jerusalem in 1st century AD (Yeshua’s day) with the pool at Bethesda and the pool at Siloam indicated by red circles.

Yeshua healed at two pools. What is the difference?

John 5:2-9 TLV: Now in Jerusalem there is a pool by the sheep gate, called Bethzatha in Aramaic,[a] which has five porches. In these a crowd of invalids was lying around—blind, lame, disabled. ()[b] 5 Now a certain man had been an invalid there for thirty-eight years. Seeing him lying there and knowing he had been that way a long time, Yeshua said to him, “Do you want to get well?” The invalid answered Him, “Sir, I have nobody to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up. While I’m trying to get in, somebody else steps down before me!” Yeshua tells him, “Get up! Pick up your mat and walk!” Immediately, the man was healed! He took up his mat and started walking around. Now that day was Shabbat,

Footnotes:

  1. John 5:2 Lit. in Hebrew. Bethesda (Heb.) means House of Mercy. Bethzatha (Aram.) means the place of poured out water.
  2. John 5:4 ASV adds: They waited for the water to be moved. Other mss. also add verse 4: because an angel of the Lord sometimes went to the pool and moved the water. Then, whoever went into the water first was healed from whatever disease he had.

Why this is relevant to me (and maybe you)

Recently, I received a healing from the Lord that delivered me from a life of being a cripple to walking totally unassisted after receiving a prognosis from my doctors that I would never again walk unassisted. (Read the story here.) I will not reiterate it here, but I want to show you something I have recently learned that will add a great deal of insight into what I believed happened.

First, we need to look at the location of two of Yeshua’s healings, both at pools in Jerusalem, and compare them. The first happened at the pool of Bethesda, as iterated above. I want you to look at the location of the pool of Bethesda in the map at the top of this post. As you can see, it is to the right of the Temple, just outside, and in front of the Roman Fortress of Antonia. Before we go on to the next healing, I want to tell you a little about the geography of the city.

In 37 BCE, Herod the Great conquered Jerusalem. He rebuilt the Second Temple and expanded the surrounding complex, adding new walls to the city that enclosed the area that was previously outside the walls of Jerusalem. (By the time of Yeshua’s ministry, Herod Antipas was in power. He was Herod the Great’s grandson.)

The beliefs of Rome involved many gods, including one called Asclepius, who was the son of Apollo and the deity credited with healing. His symbol was a staff with a serpent entwined about it. Maybe you recognize it as a modern-day symbol of medicine. (Many people mistakenly think it comes from the Old Covenant story of the bronze serpent in the story of the Israelites wandering in the wilderness.)

The location of the pool of Bethesda was outside the actual confines of the Temple and the old city of Jerusalem. It was a pool where the people who worshipped Asclepius as the god of healing came to be healed. (The explanation of the angel stirring the water was added on and is not in the older manuscripts, so chances are the scribe who added it was trying to make sense of the story. In fact, if the pool did stir, it was more likely that the stirring was caused by the serpents that were allowed to swim in the water believing that they would hasten healing.)

In addition to being outside the city proper, the pool at Bethesda was right in front of the Roman Fortress of Antonia. This is important to know because it is likely that the fortress protected the pool and its pagan god.

What happened at the Pool of Bethesda

Would it make sense that Yeshua, a devout Jew, would be walking in a pagan site of healing, around the pool of Bethesda? Well, yes. In fact, Yeshua often went where the “proper Jews” would never set foot, because they were concerned about defilement. Yeshua never had that fear. In Luke 11:7-17, we have the story of Him raising a dead boy and giving him back to his mother. It specifically says that “He touched the bier.” In the understanding of the Pharisees, Yeshua would have therefore been ritually unclean. However, Yeshua doesn’t consider this at all.

So to see Him walking in a pagan site would be well within the realm of possibility. In fact, He came to call sinners to repentance, and what better place than where they were gathered? In fact, Yeshua testifies that the man at the pool at Bethesda is a sinner. He tells him in John 5:14: 14 Afterwards, Yeshua finds him in the Temple. He said to him, “Look, you’ve been healed! Stop sinning, so nothing worse happens to you.”

What happened at the Pool of Siloam?

John 9:1-7 . As Yeshua was passing by, He saw a man who had been blind since birth. His disciples asked Him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he should be born blind?” Yeshua answered, “Neither this man nor his parents sinned. This happened so that the works of God might be brought to light in him. We must do the work of the One who sent Me, so long as it is day! Night is coming when no one can work. While I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” Having said these things, He spat on the ground, made mud with the saliva, and spread the mud on the blind man’s eyes. He told him, “Go, wash in the Pool of Siloam” (which is translated Sent). So he went away, washed, and came back seeing.

In this story later in the Book of John, Yeshua heals a man born blind. (Are the Master’s disciples remembering the man at the other pool whom Yeshua said was sick because of his sin?) This man was not guilty of a sin, and he was told to wash in the pool of Siloam. Why?

The pool of Siloam was the pool from which the priests got water for ritual purposes. If you look at the Temple in the map above, it is quite clear that the pool of Siloam was quite a distance further than the pool at Bethesda. Yet instead of just stepping through the Sheep Gate which was right beside the pool of Bethesda, the priests would make the trek through the city to the pool of Siloam. That makes sense when you realize that Bethesda was the site of a pagan pool and not a sacred one.

Why was one man a sinner and the other not?

We don’t actually know what sin the man at the pool of Bethesda committed, yet it certainly could have been unbelief. This man was a Jew because later on, we find him in the Temple. So why was he at a pagan place looking for healing? The man had been ill for thirty-eight years. He spent at least his recent time at the pool of Bethesda, where it was said that miraculous healing occurred. Yet he wasn’t healed. He couldn’t get into the water quickly enough “when it was stirred,” so when Yeshua asked him if he wanted to be healed, he answered in a way that meant he hoped Yeshua would get him into the pool. He did not know who Yeshua was.

So what does Yeshua do? He simply tells him to get up, take up his bed, and walk. The man walks away without the benefit of the pool’s miraculous healing without even knowing who it was who healed him. It wasn’t until later when Yeshua tells him to stop sinning lest something worse come upon him that he finds out Who his healer is.

By contrast, the man at the pool of Siloam wasn’t even waiting to get healed. He was simply beside the way. Yeshua informs His disciples that the man is not guilty of sin and neither are his parents. Then He touches the man and tells him to wash in the pool at Siloam, and the man returns, seeing.

What this says to me.

A week or so before God healed me, He brought the man at the pool of Bethesda to my mind. In response, I considered, did I want to be healed? While that may seem strange, I thought about how I had aligned my thoughts with those of my doctors who said I would not walk again. Now, don’t get me wrong, it’s not that I didn’t believe that God could heal me. I even told my doctors point blank, “You don’t know my God!” But while others were praying for my healing, I was actually praying for peace in case God could get more glory that way. (How that would happen I had no idea!)

In retrospect, I now wonder if I wasn’t accepting the words of the doctors and identifying myself as a cripple. Once I looked at the man at the pool of Bethesda, I came to an understanding: I wanted to be healed. So I quit thinking the thoughts of the doctors and asked God to heal me.

And you know what? He did!

Now I take to heart what Yeshua told the man: Go and sin no more lest something worse happen to you.

Disclaimer: please do not misunderstand me. I am not saying that availing yourself of medical means of healing is wrong. I am not telling you to quit taking your medicine or think that you are in sin for going to the doctor. God answered me according to His plan for me; He will answer you according to His plan for you.

Do You Suffer From Spiritual Light Sensitivity?

Do You Suffer From Spiritual Light Sensitivity?

For weeks now, I have been struggling with light sensitivity.

Yes, I have very blue eyes and a bad habit of squinting against the light instead of putting on my sunglasses. Some days, I feel like I need them even indoors!

My doctor tells me that most people in Texas—where I live—have vitamin D3 deficiency. That’s crazy, when we know that only sunlight produces that vitamin in our bodies. You can get small amounts from eating things like mushrooms, but not nearly as much as your body needs. With the abundance of sunlight in Texas, you’d think we’d be the least likely people to develop this deficiency.

A study at Stanford

In a recent study at Stanford University, researchers found that women who spend at least 30-45 minutes in the sun everyday live longer and have less frequent breast cancers. Yet we’ve been told over and again to avoid the sun! And so we ask, what are we to do? (I’ll come back to that in a minute.)

Of even graver concern is the lack of spiritual light.

If avoiding the sun can cause physical problems in our bodies, imagine how avoiding God’s light can affect our spirits!

Consider the case of the New Testament Apostle Paul. Even though he wrote most of the New Testament, he had not always been a champion of the faith. Indeed, he had letters from the religious authorities to put in jail those who were following the Way. He was on the road to Damascus to do just that when something startling happened.

As he neared Damascus on his journey, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?”

“Who are you, Lord?” Saul asked.

“I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,” he replied. “Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do (Acts9:3-6).”

Blinded by the light, his whole sense of who he was and who God was, was challenged. He had to be led into the city because he was totally blind.

But blind to what?

Saul was the young Pharisee who held the coats of those who stoned Stephen, the first Christian martyr. He was passionate for what he saw as the only way to worship God. But the Pharisees had put so many stumbling blocks in the way of the faithful that no one could be assured of not offending them.

However, God was offended by the Pharisees!

He knew that no one could follow the law perfectly. Not even pious Saul. So He enacted the solution He had prepared even before the beginning of time itself. He sent Jesus into the world, to live the life we should have lived. He did that perfectly. Then, He took on himself the penalty for every sin ever committed, past, present and even future. He paid the penalty and bought our freedom and forgiveness.

 

He became the light.

Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life (John 8:12).

 

When Jesus showed people the way, those who believed Him still struggled with believing. At one point, the boldest Apostle in the group, Simon Peter, denied he even knew Jesus.

Much later, when the beloved apostle, John, wrote in his letters, he made it abundantly clear who the light is.

This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin. If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:5-9).

This may be my favorite verse in the whole Bible. I love the light, because that’s where Jesus is.

But it is definitely not always easy.

I suffer from chronic depression. If you think Christians shouldn’t have depression, then you must also think they shouldn’t have diabetes, or heart disease, or any of a plethora of illnesses that are a result of the fall in the Garden of Eden. Unfortunately, until Jesus returns and make all things new, we live in a fallen and decaying world. One day soon, He will return and restore everything to the way He made it in the beginning, before the fall. (For more information on being a Christian with mental illness, see Amy Simpson’s Blog. You can also read my testimony about depression here.)

We have a worthy adversary—the devil. The word tells us that

he goes about as a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour (1 Peter 5:8.).”

Do you know what that means? It means he is LOUD! He is ROARING his message of lies to us. But he is also a liar from the beginning and the father of lies (John 8:44).

The enemy roars his lies.

In our ears, in the mirror, in our jobs and our families and even in our churches. That is why it is crucial that we stay in the light. When the light is shining, nothing is hidden. If we believe the lies the enemy roars at us (I’m unloveable; I’m a failure; I’m not pretty; I can’t do anything right.) then we are committing Peter’s sin.

We’re denying that we know Jesus Christ.

I’ve just come through one of the worst depressive episodes I’ve ever experienced. I tried walking backwards in the light, but all I saw were the shadows that I, myself, was casting. I heard the enemy’s lies, and I listened. Fortunately, I have people around me who saw what was happening and rushed to my aid.

Now I’m wearing an elastic band around my wrist. It says “Pray for the peace of Jerusalem.” Even though it’s a good reminder, that’s not why I’m wearing it. Every time I hear the enemy’s lies in my mind, I snap that plastic band. Then I counter the lie with the truth of Jesus. I am loved. I am succeeding in my adventure with God. I’m beautiful because God says I am. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

One day soon I’m going to publish my testimony on this website. It’s kind of long, so it will be on a page of its own and you’ll never have to look there if you don’t want to. It isn’t a pretty story, but it is a story of victory!

So how do we balance our need for light?

In the physical, we need 30-45 minutes in the sun every day to produce enough vitamin D3. But NEVER without sunscreen! And I know it’s hot and we would rather sit in the air-conditioned room than walk around the block in the heat of the day. But doing something good for yourself means you’re doing something good for the people you love, too.

And what about spiritually?

Fully live your Life in the Light!

Would You Like To Know How To Become A Christian?

Weight Loss: A Creative Way to Keep Track

Weight Loss: A Creative Way to Keep Track

A Creative Way to Track Weight Loss

WELL, I DECIDED to lose that extra weight, and I wanted a way to keep track of my weight loss that would encourage me to keep going when I wanted to quit (which was about once a day). So I thought that maybe having an interactive visual would be the thing. I saw something similar on Pinterest (don’t we see everything on Pinterest?) and with my BRAND NEW CURIO by Silhouette America, I made my own version.
Simple, really. Two canning jars (pint size) with lids and rings, some vinyl, and my lovely NEW CURIO. Did I say I just got a new Curio?

Did I say I love my new Curio?

I cut two circles out of green vinyl for the tops and then the phrases “lbs. to lose” and “lbs. lost.” Then I put 50 (yes, fifty!) flat marbles in the “lbs. to lose” jar and as I lose weight, I’ll fill the empty jar as I empty the full jar! Make sense?
So here’s to day one. I’ll take another picture when I have some marbles in the empty jar.

Update: I’ve now lost seventeen pounds in two months. Want to know how? Low-carb. I have more energy, have lost weight (and inches!) and never feel hungry. It was a little rough getting started, as I got “Low Carb Flu,” but that went away in a couple of days, and now I feel much better than my old way of eating. And no, it’s not a super restrictive diet. I eat lots of veggies, albeit low carb ones, and plenty of meat and full-fat dairy. When I crave cookies, I make homemade peanut butter cookies with just three ingredients that satisfy. And at night, I eat a tiny slice of chocolate cheese cake. Yum!

What do you think? Do you have any special ways to keep you going when you want to quit before you attain your goals? What do you do?

Coping With Stress And Anxiety

stress and anxietyFeeling stressed or anxious?

These strategies will help you cope:
Take a time-out. Practice yoga, listen to music, meditate, get a massage, or learn relaxation techniques. Stepping back from the problem helps clear your head.
Eat well-balanced meals. Do not skip any meals. Do keep healthful, energy-boosting snacks on hand.
Limit alcohol and caffeine, which can aggravate anxiety and trigger panic attacks.
Get enough sleep. When stressed, your body needs additional sleep and rest.
Exercise daily to help you feel good and maintain your health. Check out the fitness tips below.
Take deep breaths. Inhale and exhale slowly.
Count to 10 slowly. Repeat, and count to 20 if necessary.
Do your best. Instead of aiming for perfection, which isn’t possible, be proud of however close you get.
Accept that you cannot control everything. Put your stress in perspective: Is it really as bad as you think?
Welcome humor. A good laugh goes a long way.
Maintain a positive attitude. Make an effort to replace negative thoughts with positive ones.
Get involved. Volunteer or find another way to be active in your community, which creates a support network and gives you a break from everyday stress.
Learn what triggers your anxiety. Is it work, family, school, or something else you can identify? Write in a journal when you’re feeling stressed or anxious, and look for a pattern.
Talk to someone. Tell friends and family you’re feeling overwhelmed, and let them know how they can help you. Talk to a physician or therapist for professional help.
Fitness Tips: Stay Healthy, Manage Stress
For the biggest benefits of exercise, try to include at least 2½ hours of moderate-intensity physical activity (e.g. brisk walking) each week, 1¼ hours of a vigorous-intensity activity (such as jogging or swimming laps), or a combination of the two.
5 X 30: Jog, walk, bike, or dance three to five times a week for 30 minutes.
Set small daily goals and aim for daily consistency rather than perfect workouts. It’s better to walk every day for 15-20 minutes than to wait until the weekend for a three-hour fitness marathon. Lots of scientific data suggests that frequency is most important.
Find forms of exercise that are fun or enjoyable. Extroverted people often like classes and group activities. People who are more introverted often prefer solo pursuits.
Distract yourself with an iPod or other portable media player to download audiobooks, podcasts, or music. Many people find it’s more fun to exercise while listening to something they enjoy.
Recruit an “exercise buddy.” It’s often easier to stick to your exercise routine when you have to stay committed to a friend, partner, or colleague.
Be patient when you start a new exercise program. Most sedentary people require about four to eight weeks to feel coordinated and sufficiently in shape so that exercise feels easier.
 
Taken from Anxiety and Depression Association of America