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OPINION

The angel who ran the lottery was everything

R.A. Mathews
Special to The Star

Poolies.

They were Poolies. 

Remember the Moonies—those obsessed with Sun Myung Moon? The Poolies were like that, only their focus was on a certain pool of water in Jerusalem. They spent their days at the pool. Day after day, every day. At least, that’s how it seems.

None of the Poolies knew what was going on in the world. None would have stayed home to watch CNN or Fox, had TV existed in the First Century. A bona fide celebrity could have walked through their midst and they’d never have known. In fact, such an event happens and must have deeply affected their lives.

The Poolies obsession is actually with the angel who ran the pool lottery. I’m not making this up. It’s in Scripture. John 5:2ff.

The pool, called Bethesda, was surrounded by five rows of columns that supported a roof. Scripture says a large gathering of people would come there. But none came to lollygag—this wasn’t a party scene.

These people needed help. 

“Now there is in Jerusalem near the Sheep Gate a pool, which in Aramaic is called Bethesda and which is surrounded by five covered colonnades. Here a great number of disabled people used to lie—the blind, the lame, the paralyzed.” John 5:2-3

The Poolies didn’t actually swim—did I mention that part? They stared at the water. I’m serious.

It seems the angel who ran the lottery didn’t sell tickets. It was all free. And the prize was huge. If you were blind, you’d receive your sight. If you were paralyzed, you’d walk.  

But if there were no tickets, how did the angel choose the winner? That’s why the crowd stared at the water. Here’s the whole passage:

“Now there is in Jerusalem near the Sheep Gate a pool, which in Aramaic is called Bethesda and which is surrounded by five covered colonnades. Here a great number of disabled people used to lie—the blind, the lame, the paralyzed—and they waited for the moving of the waters. From time to time, an angel of the Lord would come down and stir up the waters. The first one into the pool after each such disturbance would be cured of whatever disease they had.” John 5:3-4

So whenever the angel stirred the water, the first person in the pool was healed!

One day Jesus is in Jerusalem for a festival and stops near the Bethesda Pool. By now, Jesus is famous for his Sabbath healings, and the Jewish leaders want him dead. John 7:25

But, as I said, the Poolies aren’t up on the news—they have better things to do. They don’t know who our Lord is. 

Apparently, Jesus studies the crowd and learns of a man who’s been an invalid for 38 years.  

“Do you want to get well?” Jesus asks him.

The man, his eyes no doubt on the water, says, “Sir, I have no one to help me into the pool when the water is stirred. When I am trying to get in, someone else goes down ahead of me.”

“Get up!” Jesus suddenly says, and the man is immediately cured. John 5:6-9 

It happens that fast. 

The man rolls up his mat and leaves, seemingly unnoticed by the crowd, their eyes focused on the water. But they’ll learn of the man’s healing; he was one of them. An invalid for 38 years.

Here’s the thing. You remember Blind Bartimaeus and Legion—two of Jesus’ most famous healings. But every person who came to Jesus for healing was cured. In other words, Jesus could have healed every person in that crowd.

Covid-19 is upon us. A woman I know with a failing business is struggling to pay her utilities and buy food. She applied for Trump aid and was hopeful—her friends had received $23,000 and $40,000 in loan money. Her business qualified for barely  $4,000. 

The woman’s heart sank, and then she immediately turned her face to Jesus. “My faith is not in Covid-money,” she said. “My faith is in God. He’ll provide for me.”

The lottery angel changed lives. So has the Covid-money. But neither is everything. God’s blessings are real. He is your guidance and your comfort in times of hardship.

Turn your eyes upon Jesus. Today, tomorrow, and every day, start with Jesus and stay with Jesus.

Copyright © 2020 R.A. Mathews. All rights reserved. The Rev. Mathews is a faith columnist and the author of “Reaching to God.” Contact her at Letters@RAMathews.com or on Twitter @RA_Mathews.