There is a story in the Gospel of John that proved problematic for liberals who don’t believe the Bible.
I am talking about Jesus healing of the lame man at the pool of Bethesda (John 5:1-15). In the account, Jesus came across a lame man lying by the pool. According to tradition, when an angel stirred the waters, the first sick person to enter the pool was healed.
When Jesus asked the man, who had been lame for 38 years, how he was doing, the man said because he did not have anyone to help him, when the waters stirred someone always stepped in before him. Jesus said to him, “Get up, pick up your pallet and walk” (v 8) and the man was instantly healed.
In the account, the apostle John provides some detail about the pool. First he said it was near the “sheep’s gate” and secondly it had “five porticoes” (verse 2). A portico, similar to a porch, is a covered entrance way. It was a five-sided pool.
However, because the healing by this pool is only mentioned in John’s Gospel, the liberals quickly concluded it was a later addition by someone not familiar with Jerusalem. That theory prevailed until the late 19th century when archaeologists discovered the pool exactly where John said it was — by the Sheep’s gate now located in the Muslim-controlled sector of Jerusalem.
Not only that, the pool had five porticoes, just as John said it did. It was five sided because the rectangular pool had two large basins that were separated by a wall/portico. This made five in total for the pool. The northern pool collected water which replenished the southern side.
Because of the broad steps located beneath a portico leading down to the southern basin, it is believed this pool is also served as a mikveh or ritual bath for the Jews.
In addition, they even found evidence of the healing tradition associated with the pool as they discovered shrines dedicated to a Greek god of healing — Asclepius (a god of medicine/healing). It was part of a Roman medicinal bath built on the site between 200AD and 400AD.
Obviously, pagans recognized the healing attributes of the pool and transferred them to their pagan gods. A similar thing happened in Acts 14:9-18 when villagers in town of Lystra mistakenly believed Zeus and Hermes had performed a miraculous healing after Paul and Barnabas healed a lame man from the city.
So John was right.
The most incredible healing
This isn’t the first time that an account found in only one of the Gospels has proven controversial. Mark records the healing of a blind man mentioned nowhere else.
Even christian commentators and preachers have considered this healing as less than successful as Jesus prayed for the man twice to completely heal him. Some even suggest it shows some healings need more faith, implying Jesus lacked faith in his first attempt.
However, recent medical discoveries show this is in fact one of the great miracles of the Bible, as within the account there is evidence that proves it to be a true miracle. Read: Did a Bible miracle prove itself?
- The Bethesda Pool, Site of one of Jesus’ miracles: biblearchaeology.org
- The Stones Cry out: Archaeology Bears Witness to the Gospels: CBN.com
- Bethesda: Biblewalks.com