The Pool of Bethesda, Part I

In this article, I would like to study about the pool of Bethesda with you. Let us refresh our memories of this story recorded in John 5: “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. For an angel went down at a certain season into the pool, and troubled the water: whosoever then first after the troubling of the water stepped in was made whole of whatsoever disease he had.” Verses 1–4.

A Myth

Do you believe that the troubling of the water at this pool of Bethesda, about which the people gathered for healing, was of God? No! It was not God’s ordained method of healing. Something is so essential in one of these verses that lets us know this. A myth had been built around this situation. Notice, in verse 4, that the Bible says, “For an angel.” It does not say, an angel of God.

Let us look a bit closer at verse 4. “For an angel went down at a certain season into the pool, and troubled the water: whosoever then first after the troubling of the water stepped in was made whole of whatsoever disease he had.” It says that whosoever was first in entering the troubled water was healed. What do you think about that? Is that God’s method of dealing with His precious souls? No, God is no respecter of persons. God is not about the business of the survival of the fittest.

If a pool such as the one at Bethesda was located near you and everyone in the area knew that at a certain time an angel moved the water, and whatsoever disease an individual had, if he or she just got into the pool first, they could be healed of that infirmity, do you believe the grounds around that pool would be overflowing with people? Oh, yes, most definitely!

Quick Fix

You might not think this is so, but there are hundreds of people who gather at large auditoriums where ministers simply wave their hands over the individual or blow their breath upon the individual and a supposed healing takes place. You have perhaps seen such a service on the television. Many people seek out a quick solution that requires no sacrifice on their part. That is what they want. They want the benefits without the effort.

What do you think would be the response if I could take the eight principles of health—godly trust, open air, daily exercise, sunshine, proper rest, lots of water, always temperate, and nutrition—and capsulate them, put them in a bottle with a brand name on it, and tell people, “Take three godly trust capsules a day, and it will bring you close to Jesus”? This might seem to be humorous to you, but it is not an over-simplification of the truth, because people love quick fixes; they love pills. They are looking for methods that require no sacrifice.

In the Book of Jeremiah 30:12, 13, we read: “For thus saith the Lord, Thy bruise [is] incurable, [and] thy wound [is] grievous. [There is] none to plead thy cause, that thou mayest be bound up: thou hast no healing medicines.”


The apostle Paul always gave his testimony every place he went. He would tell of how, while walking on the road to Damascus, there was a light. (See Acts 9:3.) God has given us each a testimony. It does not have to be a dramatic testimony. It does not have to be, “I almost fell over the cliff, but the angel pulled me back, and I gave my heart to the Lord.” It does not have to be that at all. Many of us, in the quietness of our hearts, have been touched by God. Some of our experiences are dramatic, but whether dramatic or not, we each have a testimony.

Forty-one years ago, when I was clinically dying with arthritis, which lasted for ten years, my career as a professional basketball player was ended. As I look back in retrospect, I thank God for arthritis. Not that I glory in the pain, but I would not be where I am today if it was not for arthritis. That is the only way God got my attention to slow me down, so He could put me in the position where He could fill me with His Spirit. He had to take a basketball out of my hands and put a Bible there. He had to keep me from going up and down a hardwood court. He had to say, “Jackson, I have a job for you going up and down on the court of earth.” I did not premeditate these things. It was the farthest thing in my mind to be doing what I am doing today, but God put a call in to me, as He puts a call in to you.

I remember my junior year in school when one professional basketball team was putting out its feelers. During that time, very few college players were going from college to the pros. It was virtually unheard of for a high school student to go into professional ranks, such as LeBron James, who was the first round draft pick by the Cleveland Cavaliers, Cleveland, Ohio, in 2003. He instantly became a very wealthy 19-year-old, signing several endorsement deals totaling nearly 100 million dollars. When I was coming up, the highest paid player was Wilt Chamberlain; he made $100,000, which was like a million dollars during that time.

Search for Relief

As I searched for relief from the arthritis, I remember my doctor looking me in the eye and telling me, “Young man, yes, you play pretty good basketball, but unfortunately there is no known cause or cure for your arthritis.”

I stayed on anti-inflammatory drugs for almost ten years, when those drugs lost their effect. This created a condition that led me to take other kinds of drugs that the doctors did not have to prescribe. It was only by God’s grace that I am here today.

“Thou hast no healing medicines.” I am not saying that there is not a place and time for medicine, but I do know that in my situation, medicine was not improving my condition. It was not until God put me flat on my back that I looked up and cried out to the most powerful Person in the universe. I did not cry out to be healed physically; I cried out to be healed spiritually, because I did not know that there was healing physically in His Word. But God is the Chief Physician. He knows how to heal, but if He chooses to not heal, as He chose not to heal Paul, He promises that, “My grace is sufficient.” 11 Corinthians 12:9.

You see, in Jeremiah 46:11, it says, “Go up into Gilead, and take balm, O virgin, the daughter of Egypt: in vain shalt thou use many medicines; [for] thou shalt not be cured.”

That is what I did for ten years. I tried many medicines, but I was not cured. I was in the pool of human philosophy, seeking man’s method for human dilemma. There is only one solution to the human dilemma—the gospel of Jesus Christ.

House of Mercy

The word Bethesda means, “house of mercy.” Look at the last three letters of that word. God’s people, His true people, should be the balm in Gilead. Is there a balm in your area?

People should be coming to us for the healing of their souls and for the healing of their bodies. We should be the head and not the tail. (Deuteronomy 28:13.) “The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and we are not saved. For the hurt of the daughter of my people am I hurt; I am black; astonishment hath taken hold on me.” Jeremiah 8:20, 21. Am I black? When God says that He is black, He is not talking about being black in color. It denotes that He feels the pain, the sorrow. The Bible says that He is touched with the feelings of our infirmities. (See Hebrews 4:15.) When nobody else understands our pain, there is One who enters into our suffering, and that is God.

Jeremiah 8:22 continues, “[Is there] no balm in Gilead . . .?” A balm is an herb; it is medicinal. God is saying, “My people should be medicinal.” We should have healing in our attitudes, in our dispositions; our very lives should testify of the mercies of God. His mercies should be seen in the way we treat one another and in the way we speak. Even when we are under provocation, we should not retaliate. “A soft answer turneth away wrath.” Proverbs 15:1.

Jeremiah 8:22 goes on to say, “. . . [is there] no physician there? why then is not the health of the daughter of my people recovered?” Why is there suffering among God’s people?

People Types

I want to share with you that at the pool of Bethesda there were four types of people. We read in John 5 that there was a multitude of impotent, blind, halt, and withered at the pool. As we have already declared, the troubled water of that pool was not God’s method of healing. It was a myth built up by the leaders of that time. No angel of God stirred up the water, but it was impressed upon the minds of the people that there was something supernatural about that water, and all one had to do was get in to be healed of his or her condition. Such is the propaganda that we find in society today, which is not based on biblical and true scientific facts. We allow our emotions, our destinies, and our circumstances to move us. We grab hold of anything that sounds good, but we do not inquire, “Is this the way of the Lord?”

We may find our marriages are on the rocks, and we go to people who do not know the Word of God to give us counsel as to how to establish our marriages. That is the pool of Bethesda. When we find ourselves in financial crisis, we listen to those who encourage us to take out another loan, and we find ourselves deeper in debt, because we are still at the pool of Bethesda. We find ourselves losing our children, and in churches today we are told that the only way we can hold onto our children is to entertain them, to change the style of worship, to have music that has the beat. We are at the pool of Bethesda. We need to train our children to be servants and to minister, not to be entertained.

There is no healing in that pool, so let us investigate the people by the pool, and let us see where our hope lies. First, consider the following one word definitions: the word impotent means, “powerless”; the word blind means, “sightless”; the word halt means, “motionless”; and the word withered means, “useless.”

Four types of people were found around the pool and are found in God’s church, but do not drop your head in despair. The story has a good end, because there is hope. We need to know, however, where we are. Are we powerless? Are we sightless? Are we motionless? Are we useless? Let us investigate.


Read 11 Timothy 3:5: “Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.”

Recently, several of us were sitting in the cafeteria at M.E.E.T. Ministry, and we were discussing a particular issue. Someone stated that the way to tell whether or not a man is living up to the truth or has the truth is to observe his life and visit in his home. Now, I know the fact is that a life should be in harmony with the truth, but I cannot determine the truth based on a person’s life. A person may be preaching truth but not living the truth. That does not negate the truth.

It is very important to understand this, because many of us judge the truth based on the life of a person, when it is unfortunate that the person is not living up to the truth. Nevertheless, that is truth, if it agrees with the Word of God.

Inspiration warns of many preachers who look to the souls they have baptized, but they were not living according to the truth. In spite of these unconverted ministers, God is moving upon the honest hearts. (See Early Writings, 98–102.)

What is the lesson from this? I can have truth in the intellect, and I can be theologically correct, but if this knowledge does not impact and change my life, I live a lie to that truth. When Jesus spoke the truth, His life testified of the power of the truth. As a body of people, God does not want form; He wants substance.


From a medical viewpoint, the word impotent means, for a man, that he does not have the ability to produce. There is no power.

In Genesis 17, we read about Abraham. God came to Abraham, after the birth of Ishmael, and declared that he would give to him a son. “And God said unto Abraham, As for Sarai thy wife, thou shalt not call her name Sarai, but Sarah [shall] her name [be]. And I will bless her, and give thee a son also of her: yea, I will bless her, and she shall be [a mother] of nations; kings of people shall be of her.” Verses 15, 16.

What was Abraham’s response? “Then Abraham fell upon his face, and laughed, and said in his heart, Shall [a child] be born unto him that is an hundred years old? and shall Sarah, that is ninety years old, bear? And Abraham said unto God, O that Ishmael might live before thee!” Verses 17, 18.

But God responded: “Sarah thy wife shall bear thee a son indeed; and thou shalt call his name Isaac: and I will establish my covenant with him for an everlasting covenant, [and] with his seed after him.” Verse 19.

Continuing in Geneses 18:11–14, we read: “Now Abraham and Sarah [were] old [and] well stricken in age; [and] it ceased to be with Sarah after the manner of women. Therefore Sarah laughed within herself, saying, After I am waxed old shall I have pleasure, my lord being old also? And the Lord said unto Abraham, Wherefore did Sarah laugh, saying, Shall I of a surety bear a child, which am old? Is any thing too hard for the Lord? At the time appointed I will return unto thee, according to the time of life, and Sarah shall have a son.” Abraham was past the time of producing.

Notice Romans 4:17: “(As it is written, I have made thee a father of many nations,) before him whom he believed, [even] God, who quickeneth the dead, and calleth those things which be not as though they were.” Do you understand this principle? That which we do not see, God sees as it is.

Verses 19, 21 say: “And being not weak in faith, he [Abraham] considered not his own body now dead, when he was about an hundred years old, neither yet the deadness of Sarah’s womb . . . And being fully persuaded that, what he had promised, he was able also to perform.”

God of the Living

Let us continue to see the mighty goodness and wonderful works of God. In Hebrews 11:11, we read: “Through faith also Sara herself received strength to conceive seed, and was delivered of a child when she was past age, because she judged him faithful who had promised.” God can take a dead womb and bring life out if it. God can take a spiritually dead person and bring forth power, if we believe.

I am so glad that God is not God of the dead. He is God of the living. If we have not the power to overcome our inherited or cultivated habits, then we need to realize that God has power to give us victory. The only reason that we are not enjoying the victory is because we do not believe.

Abraham asked, “Lord, how can I produce a child? I am past age. My sperm count is gone.” But God reminded him that He made the womb. God is not bound by biology; He created it.

We do not know the God we serve. There is nothing too hard for Him. From where do the banks get their money? It comes from the resources that God made. The water we drink comes from the very fountains of God. This is why we, as Christians, though we find ourselves challenged and faced with discouragement, must never, never doubt that God is able to keep us. Everything and everyone belongs to God, and He needs people into whom He can put His power.


You, I am sure, are familiar with the background of Daniel. As teenagers, he and his companions were taken hostage. Daniel, whose name means, “God is my judge,” was from the tribe of Judah. He was in the line to be progenitor of Christ Himself—the seed of Abraham, of Isaac, and Jacob, and right on down the line.

Nebuchadnezzar the king, “Spake unto Ashpenaz the master of his eunuchs, that he should bring [certain] of the children of Israel, and of the king’s seed, and of the princes; Children in whom [was] no blemish, but well favoured, and skilful in all wisdom, and cunning in knowledge, and understanding science, and such as [had] ability in them to stand in the king’s palace, and whom they might teach the learning and the tongue of the Chaldeans.” Daniel 1:3, 4.

Something very important is stated in verse 3. What is a eunuch? It is a castrated male. God has said that there will be some made eunuchs for the kingdom, born eunuchs. (Matthew 19:12.) That means that such a man does not have the ability to reproduce or procreate.

Read 11 Kings 20:17, 18. This is speaking of the days of Hezekiah. Hezekiah showed all of his goodness to the heathen kings, and God was going to deal with that, but in verse 17, the Bible says, “Behold, the days come, that all that [is] in thine house, and that which thy fathers have laid up in store unto this day, shall be carried into Babylon: nothing shall be left, saith the Lord.” This is the prophecy of the captivity of Babylon. Verse 18 continues: “And of thy sons that shall issue from thee, which thou shalt beget, shall they take away; and they shall be eunuchs in the palace of the king of Babylon.”

So, is Daniel 1:3 telling us that Daniel, Shadrach, Meshack, and Abednego were made eunuchs? Yes, they were. What a terrible ordeal to experience, especially a male Hebrew! That eliminated all probability of them being the progenitors of the seed of Jesus Christ. The devil was trying to stop God’s plan.

Intimate Relationship

These young men were castrated, but not cast away. The devil is seeking to castrate you and me. He is trying to immobilize us; he is trying to make us impotent. But God is looking for a people that will conceive His character. The Bible says, “This is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.” John 17:3. That word know indicates an intimate relationship.

The Bible says that when Adam knew his wife, they brought forth a child. (See Genesis 4:1, 25.) When we have an intimate relationship with God, we are going to produce character, because God is going to impregnate us with His seed. He is going to put His seed in us through His word. But the devil is seeking to make the Word of non-effect in our lives. He is seeking to castrate us.


Daniel purposed in his heart. The devil thought that impotency would stop God’s plan, but God is not bound by biology. God is not bound by circumstances. God said to Abraham, “You shall have a child.” God said to Peter, “When you are converted,”—not if but when! Luke 22:32. Jesus will put a positive emphasis on our lives. God will give us power.

At the pool of Bethesda, there were impotent, powerless people. They were people controlled by such things as appetite, sensual desire, pornography, and lying. Does that sound similar to today?

There is not one habit, inherited or cultivated, that God’s power cannot break. Whatever our past may be, if we cry to Him and say, “Lord, I want to be freed,” He will free us quicker than He will heal our physical infirmities.

God does not delay when it comes to delivering us from sin. However, if we pray, “Lord, take this tumor out of my body,” He might say, “I give you grace and power to endure it.”

To be continued . . .

Thomas Jackson is a health evangelist and Director of Missionary Education and Evangelistic Training (M.E.E.T.) Ministry in Huntingdon, Tennessee. He may be contacted by e-mail at: or by telephone at: 731-986-3518.