In John 5:1-14, we take a walk with Jesus as He travels from Galilee to Jerusalem. The purpose of His journey was to celebrate a Jewish holiday; probably His second Passover during His ministry. When He arrives in Jerusalem He visits the Pool of Bethseda. Some translations render it Bethesda. I found a couple different sources that translate this word as "house of mercy." One suggest "house of newness."
The pool was decorated with five different porticos and we get from the text that these porticos were populated with the ailing and sick. They would gather and wait for the waters to be stirred. It is a mystery as to how or why God chose to unleash His grace and healing virtue at this site and in this manner. Undoubtedly, we know part of the reason is so we can witness this exchange and learn of Jesus in this moment.
Here is what I see.
Jesus approaches a man who had been crippled for 38 years. The man had been coming to the pool and waiting for his turn to participate in the miracle. Jesus asks him, "Do you want to get well?"
My reaction may have been something like, "Duh!" But this man demonstrates a little more tact and explains he has no one to help him and someone else always beats him to it. We know his wait was never about the pool, or even about getting in the pool -- it was about his encounter with Jesus in this moment and in this time.
As a pastor for nearly 15 years I see this same type of approach over and over again. I love the Church and I love our church. The New Life Church community is truly a "house of newness." Hurt and crippled people come into our "house" looking for help and healing and ... IT IS GOOD!
That being said, it is an amazing adventure in missing the point when people come to the "house of newness" anticipating that the very act of arriving, attending, even participating is mission accomplished. While being at the pool (attending) and being in the pool (participating) has merit, the point is an encounter with Jesus!
As church members, let's be excited when people come to the pool. We need to be actively inviting others to the swim party! Let's also rejoice when people get in the pool. When people participate by serving and contributing, they take ownership of the pool. I get excited when someone begins to contribute. I know I grew most in faith and maturity when I was active and serving in ministry. But let's not forget the point is meeting Jesus and being transformed forever by the encounter!
We are misleading people and misrepresenting the Kingdom if we allow people to think the pool is the point while Jesus is waiting.
Invite People to the Pool
Invite people to church and help them get in the pool. You want your loved ones and people you care about to be at the "house of newness." But don't miss the point.
Introduce People to Jesus
'Nuf said. Jesus is at the pool waiting to have a life altering encounter with you and others.