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Prior to archaeological digs, the Pool of Bethesda was identified with the modern so-called Fountai n of the Virgin, in the Kidron Valley, not far from the Pool of Siloam, and alternately with the Birket Israel, a pool near the mouth of the valley, which runs into the Kidron south of St. Stephen’s Gate. Others identified it with the twin pools then called the Souterrains under the Convent of the Sisters of Zion; subsequent archaeological investigation of the area has determined these to actually be the Strouthion Pool. In digs conducted in the 19th century, Conrad Schick discovered a large tank situated about 100ft north-west of St. Anne’s Church, which he contended was the Pool of Bethesda. Further archaeological excavation in the area, in 1964, discovered the remains of the Byzantine and Crusader churches, Hadrian’s Temple of Asclepius and Serapis, the small healing pools of the Asclepieion, the other of the two large pools, and the dam between them. It was discovered that the Byzantine construction was built in the very heart of Hadrian’s construction and contained the healing pools.

We learn in the story that many people viewed the pool as a healing sanctuary (5:3). Such places were not uncommon in antiquity, and once a site was identified as a sanctuary of healing, the tradition was impossible to stop.Excavations at the site show that after the New Testament era, the pools continued to be used as an Asclepion (a healing sanctuary8), which confirms the tradition. One explanation for the crowd at the pool has slipped into the text (5:3b–4), which most of the manuscripts of John leave out (cf. the NIV); it was likely inserted to explain the “stirring of the waters” in 5:7. The people understood that occasionally an angel would descend and stir the water of the pool, and the first one to touch the water would be healed. The man Jesus meets had been ill for thirty-eight years (in 5:8–9 John indicates he was paraplegic, having lost the ability to use his legs). This area was likely a regular place for him to spend the day. Here he could beg from people coming to the pool and take his chances at being healed. – Gary M. Burge

When we honestly look at ourselves, we say, “Oh, why did Jesus save me?” And after we have known Christ for a while and have come to see our inconsistencies and lack of thanksgiving, we marvel that he did not drop us along the way.
I cannot pray, except I sin;
I cannot preach, but I sin;
I cannot administer, nor receive
the holy sacrament, but I sin.
My very repentance needs to be repented of;
And the tears I shed need washing
in the blood of Christ.
That is true. Those are the words of William Beveridge, but they are my words too. The amazing thing is that all Christ got out of his work was you and me—a bunch of saved sinners. But one day we are going to be glorious and radiant. Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. (Ephesians 5:25–27) One day, paralytics all, we will be dancing with him. What a time that is going to be!
-Kent Hughes

HCQ53. What do you believe concerning “the Holy Spirit”?
A. First, that the Spirit, with the Father and the Son, is eternal God. Second, that the Spirit is given also to me, so that, through true faith, he makes me share in Christ and all his benefits through true faith, comforts me,4 and will remain with me forever. Gen. 1:1-2; Matt. 28:19; Acts 5:3-4, 1 Cor. 6:19; 2 Cor. 1:21-22; Gal. 4:6, Gal. 3:14, John 15:26; Acts 9:31, John 14:16-17; 1 Pet. 4:14