“Now there is in Jerusalem by the Sheep Gate a pool, in Aramaic* called Bethesda,* which has five roofed colonnades. 3 In these lay a multitude of invalids—blind, lame, and paralyzed.* 5 One man was there who had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. 6 When Jesus saw him lying there and knew that he had already been there a long time, he said to him, “Do you want to be healed?” 7 The sick man answered him, “Sir, I have no one to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up, and while I am going another steps down before me.” 8 Jesus said to him, “Get up, take up your bed, and walk.” John 5:2-8
This pool is really a picture of the law. In fact it’s shaped like the 10 commandments with there being really two pools and a path that runs down between them both. It’s located next to the sheep gate where the sacrificial lambs were brought in. Lambs that could never take away the sins of the world. The Greek word for pool here is a very specific word which means a bubbling spring. These people believed that whenever the pool bubbled up if you happened to be the first one in you would be healed. It was a complete cluster of competition to get in the water first. Imagine life guarding at this pool.
Jesus steps into this scene of competition and religion and singles out one man who’s having trouble with it all. Notice Jesus doesn’t help him win. He removed him from the competition altogether. Jesus doesn’t come to help us win at religion. He comes to set us free from religion and self reliance. He comes to set us free from measuring and competing with a broken world. We are all broken in many different ways so why bother trying to make people believe that you aren’t.