The Man at the Pool – An Encounter

Scripture Reference: John 5:1-9

I am writing this in the first person as if I were the man who encountered Jesus at the pool of Bethesda. I invite you to be this man too. Try to see through his eyes, hear with his ears, and somehow, through this process, encounter the Lord Jesus in spirit and truth.
My memory doesn’t go back to before the accident because it happened when I was very small. A Roman officer was riding through our village when his horse was spooked by a snake that slithered out from under some baskets at the side of the road. My mother was carrying me in her arms when the horse crashed into her. I flew out of her grip and landed right under the terrified horse. Its hooves drove down on my legs and broke them like twigs.
My family moved to Jerusalem a few years later when I was about five years old. There is a pool there, near the Sheep Gate, where people like me are taken in the hope of being healed. You see, every so often the water in the pool bubbles and swirls and we all believe that an angel is stirring the water and will heal the first person who enters the water at this time. My brothers used to take me to this pool and leave me there for days on end with just my mat, a jar of water and some bread. Sometimes I was there when the water bubbled but I never could get into it first.
For years and years I had great hope that I would be healed and I pleaded with my brothers to stay with me at the pool so they could carry me in when the angel came and stirred the water, but they couldn’t because they had to work to provide food for us all. I can’t remember exactly when I lost hope, but one day I saw the waters beginning to churn and I just could care anymore. Something in me had died and hope deserted me.
Then one day, around nine in the morning, I was sitting on the stone decking surrounding the pool when I noticed a man enter the area. He was accompanied by a group of strong looking young men. Well, they looked young to me because I was over forty at the time. The man strode over and squatted down in front of me. He asked me what was wrong with me and how long I had been this way, and I told him my story. Then he looked at me for a long moment and asked, “Do you want to get well?” The first thought that raced through my mind was indignation; of course I wanted to be able to walk. But his eyes were gentle and a kindly smile played around his lips. He was not mocking me. I heard myself blurting out the reason why I couldn’t get to the water in time to be healed but he silenced me with a gesture. For a long moment I looked into his eyes and then I heard him saying, “Get up! Pick up your mat and walk”. The babble of the crowd of people around me faded and it seemed as though this stranger and I were the only two in the universe.
At that very moment I felt the strangest sensation in my crippled legs. It felt like my blood had turned to liquid fire and was pouring down inside my limbs. My legs jumped and twitched and I had to shift my weight because my feet were suddenly uncomfortable under me. Without even thinking about it I pushed myself up onto my knees and then I… stood. My legs felt on fire but I was standing! I was standing! The man had told me to pick up my mat and walk, but before I stooped to gather up my little reed mat I looked intently into his face…

Now dear reader, what do you see in the face of Christ? What does Jesus reveal to you about himself in this moment? Take time to see the scene as though you are the man who had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. What is Jesus showing you about himself and how he regards you?
Picture of Christopher Peppler

Christopher Peppler



6 thoughts on “The Man at the Pool – An Encounter”

  1. When I processed the encounter as a reader, rather than the author, this is what I experienced:

    As I look into Jesus’ face it is as though he is wordlessly communicating with me. I feel his compassion for me but I also know that he wants to change the way I think about life. He wants me to know that he, in himself, is the source of life and that if I would trust him and not superstition, or anything else, I can have life. I feel like he wants me to know this because he cares for me and wants the best for me.

  2. I see pure delight and love in the face of Jesus as he watches my amazement and joy in being healed. I understand that this gentle, humble and unassuming man carries the true power of God that I was searching for in the pool. I feel that he looks at me as though he has always known me and seen my suffering and pain, even though this is the first time I have met him. He looks upon me as man would look upon treasure – I feel precious and special and know that he came to this place for me.

  3. When I look into Jesus’ face I see hope. I feel that I have a renewed future and purpose. I feel drawn to him, knowing that I can trust him. I feel that he has always known me. I am not afraid of what lies ahead.

  4. Looking at Jesus, I see hope, something that is real. I feel like I have something true to believe in, someone who gives life, and just when I was about to give up. Not only that, but someone who loves me enough to take the time to see that I was cripple and in need.

    I see his power and authority, but at the same time, only compassion and love, even for someone like me.

  5. When I see Jesus eyes looking intently into mine I know that He understands my pain. Jesus knows my desperate plea and He wants me to trust Him completely. So Jesus asks me if I want to be healed, but I hear “I am your Healer will you trust me completely and have faith in Me”. My heart jumps because I have found my Healer, the Son of God who died for me! YES Jesus! I will stand up and carry my mat and walk. I am yours Jesus!!

  6. As I look into Jesus’ face I see love incarnate but I also hear Him saying ‘wait, don’t be in such a hurry! Feel the process; feel the love; absorb the moment; live the moment. There are many things in you that I can heal. Take the time to let Me. I am your Beloved Redeemer, healer, Lord – and you are my beloved child.

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About Me

My name is Christopher Peppler and I was born in Cape Town, South Africa in 1947. While working in the financial sector I achieved a number of business qualifications from the Institute of Bankers, Damelin Management School, and The University of the Witwatersrand Business School. After over 20 years as a banker, I followed God’s calling and joined the ministry full time. After becoming a pastor of what is now a quite considerable church, I  earned an undergraduate theological qualification from the Baptist Theological College of Southern Africa and post-graduate degrees from two United States institutions. I was also awarded the Doctor of Theology in Systematic Theology from the University of Zululand in 2000.

Four years before that I established the South African Theological Seminary (SATS), which today is represented in over 70 countries and has more than 2 500 active students enrolled with it. I presently play an role supervising Masters and Doctoral students.

I am a passionate champion of the Christocentric or Christ-centred Principle, an approach to biblical interpretation and theological construction that emphasises the centrality of Jesus

I have been happily married to Patricia since the age of 20, have two children, Lance and Karen, a daughter-in-law Tracey, and granddaughters Jessica and Kirsten. I have now retired from both church and seminary leadership and devote my time to writing, discipling, and the classical guitar.

If you would like to read my testimony to Jesus then click HERE.