Two healings in Jerusalem – 1,000 year score to settle
Most Bible scholars agree that the Lord Jesus performed at least 38 miracles throughout his 3.5 years of public ministry. These supernatural works pointed to of His authority over creation, His power over sickness and death, and His great love and compassion for humanity. Yet, only two (2) of these miracles were performed in Jerusalem, while the great majority of them took place in the Galilee, Judea, Phoenicia, and elsewhere. Why?
One would think that Jesus, knowing Jerusalem’s centrality in God’s plan and its significance as and the focal point for His coming crucifixion, death, burial, resurrection and ascension, would specifically target this City with many powerful miracles in order to make a BIG impression. But He didn’t. Instead, He performed only two miracles in Jerusalem, healing one blind man and one lame man. Was this a ministry oversight, a missed opportunity? Or were these miracles pointing to God’s exceptional purpose?
The first Jerusalem miracle is recorded in the Gospel of John, saying, “After this there was a feast of the Jews, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. Now there is in Jerusalem by the Sheep Gate a pool, which is called in Hebrew, Bethesda, having five porches. In these lay a great multitude of sick people, blind, lame, paralyzed, waiting for the moving of the water. For an angel went down at a certain time into the pool and stirred up the water; then whoever stepped in first, after the stirring of the water, was made well of whatever disease he had. Now a certain man was there who had an infirmity thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him lying there, and knew that he already had been in that condition a long time, He said to him, “Do you want to be made well?” The sick man answered Him, “Sir, I have no man to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up; but while I am coming, another steps down before me.” Jesus said to him, “Rise, take up your bed and walk.” And immediately the man was made well, took up his bed, and walked.” John 5:1-8.
This first Jerusalem miracle took place at the Pool of Bethesda during the Feast of Passover when the city was packed full with pilgrims. The Pool’s name in Hebrew means “House of Mercy,” and like a battleground strewn with wounded bodies or an overcrowded nursing home, Bethesda’s was filled with pain and misery.
No doubt, the Lord felt the sufferings of this great number of people, and also the presence of the great Temple just a few blocks away where the priests and religious practitioners neither understood nor regarded these sufferings. Most of them believed that any kind of disability meant that that person was guilty of or affected by sin, and that their suffering was some sort of direct retribution. They even believed that a baby sinning in its mother’s womb will suffer a physical deformity as a result.
But Jesus’ eye was fixed on one lame man who was waiting for 38 long years, probably the most pitiable, helpless and hopeless of all the cases there. Jesus didn’t demand faith nor corrected this man’s flawed theology; He simply commanded and expected obedience. And by the Lord’s word, “Rise, take up your bed and walk,” a miraculous, instantaneous and complete healing came over the infirmed limbs as long-suffering and misery met the Savior’s love. His word still speaks today to all who have ears to hear.
The second Jerusalem miracle took place not too far from the first, and is also recorded by John, saying, “Now as Jesus passed by, He saw a man who was blind from birth. And His disciples asked Him, saying, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” Jesus answered, “Neither this man nor his parents sinned, but that the works of God should be revealed in him. I must work the works of Him who sent Me while it is day; the night is coming when no one can work. As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” When He had said these things, He spat on the ground and made clay with the saliva; and He anointed the eyes of the blind man with the clay. And He said to him, “Go, wash in the pool of Siloam” (which is translated in Hebrew, “Sent”). So he went and washed, and came back seeing.” John 9:1-6.
This miracle took place following a heated confrontation with the Pharisees during the Feast of Tabernacles. Objecting to Jesus’ claim of possessing eternal life and a divine origin, the Pharisees wanted to stone him for the “blasphemy,” and as He slipped away from them he met this blind man. It is important to note that this was the ONLY sick person recorded in the Gospels whose condition existed from birth and was not the result of some later misfortune. And, as we saw earlier, this was the reason the disciples asked who was to blame for his severe birth defect, himself or his parents?
In the Lord’s view, however, it’s never about who is to blame, The Savior would soon be crucified and the time for theological trivia has long past. This blind man was a miracle waiting to happen, chosen from all eternity for this very moment to manifest God’s glory. And this same redemptive perspective still guides the Lord’s view of all who call on Him.
This healing took place at the pool of Siloam, a short distance from the Temple Courts, where the royal complex of King David’s palace and government buildings once stood. At the time of Jesus, this pool served as a public “Mikveh,” a large bathing pool for Jewish worshippers before entering the Temple, as well as the source from which the priests drew water daily for the famous Temple water ceremony. It was at this crowded and popular spot that the Lord chose to perform this second Jerusalem miracle, proving Himself to be indeed the light of the world.” Both miracles were public, resisted by the religious authorities, and visible to all.
Only two healings were performed in Jerusalem, and the reason for that mystery goes back a thousand years before Christ appeared. It was soon after consolidating all the tribes of Israel into one kingdom that young King David moved his capitol from Hebron (where he reigned over Judea) in search of the City God promised the patriarchs long ago (Ex 12:12). And it was during this campaign that David found himself by Mt. Moriah (where Father Abraham offered his son Isaac) facing the most fortified city in the land, Jerusalem, which was the Jebusites’ capitol.
Looking down with contempt upon David’s army from the heights of his fortress stronghold, the Jebusite king mocked them, saying, “You shall not come in here; but the BLIND and the LAME will repel you,” thinking, David cannot come in here.”” (2 Samuel 5:6). In other words, full of pride and arrogance, the enemy tells the young king of Israel that he will never conquer Jerusalem even if all her defendants were LAME and BLIND soldiers.
However, David prevailed, and Jerusalem became Israel’s eternal capital and the center of worship and national life for God’s people for all time. And Jesus, 1,000 years later, working the Messiah’s work, had an old score to settle; an ancient curse to break. He came to undo the words of mockery the enemy uses against God’s people still echoing down the generations, and for Him it was personal! When He came into Jerusalem there were only two miracles on His mind, the BLIND and the LAME.
You can find more about these two famous pools in Jerusalem at: http://www.biblicalarchaeology.org
And better yet, you are welcome to come to Israel, visit these sites in person, and experience the Bible come to life. Contact me to start planning your spiritual adventure in Jerusalem!
Biblical Tours Director, Genesis Tours.