3 In these lay a great multitude of sick people,
blind, lame, paralyzed, waiting for the moving of the water.
4 For an Angel went down at a certain time
into the pool and stirred up the water;
then whoever stepped in first, after the stirring of the water,
was made well of whatever disease he had.
You will need your Bible to understand the full scope of today's post. The verses I have chosen today have become quite controversial because the last of verse 3 and all of verse 4 have been omitted from modern translations. If you are familiar with the story of The Healing In The Pool, you will know that after talking with the Samaritan woman at the well, and healing the son of one of Herod's court officials, Jesus goes to Jerusalem for one of the pilgrimage feasts of the Jews.
While there He encounters an invalid man waiting by the Pool of Bethesda. According to the Scripture in the King James Bible, there was "a great multitude" of sick people gathered around the pool, "waiting for the moving of the water." It is then stated as fact by the Apostle John that at certain times (or seasons) an Angel came and "stirred up" or "troubled" the water; and whoever managed to step into the pool first was healed of his affliction.
In verse 6, one of these poor souls catches Jesus's eye. He knows that the man has been waiting thirty-eight years to be the first to get in the water. So Jesus asks the man, "Do you want to be made whole?" Jesus knows full well that the man has no one to help him. Yet this same man returns each season that the water is stirred, in the hopes of being cured. So Jesus provides the miracle of healing and commands the man to pick up his mat and walk.
There have been many Bible commentators who have attempted to explain why these moving verses have been altered, and in the case of verse 4, omitted entirely. Certain apologists have attempted to explain the "angel stirring the water" as a superstitious belief of the day, and uncharacteristic of the God of the Bible. They argue that God would never have put sick people in competition with each other for healing. They say that the stirring of the water has no valid meaning in context of Jesus's healing. They also try to convince us that early manuscripts of the Bible did not include these verses, and that is why the modern versions such as NIV, Revised Standard Version and English Standard Version do not include them. The fact is that many modern Bible revisionists have a strong bias against miracles.
But I ask you to contemplate this. John doesn't say "It was reported" that an Angel used to come to stir the water; or that "Rumor has it" that an Angel used to appear. He says emphatically, in verse 4, "For an Angel went down at a certain time into the pool and stirred the water." As I have read these verses over and over, it seems well within the context of the story that God would occasionally send an Angel (of the Lord) to stir up hopes in the hearts and bodies of sick people; so that when He sent His Son to "make them whole", they would recognize that it was through belief in Him that they could be healed.
To simply dismiss verse 4 as a superstition of the time, and therefore unfitting to be included in modern translations, doesn't explain why, in verse 7, the sick man says, “Sir,” the invalid replied, “I have no one to help me into the pool when the water is stirred. While I am trying to get in, someone else goes down ahead of me.” That statement by the sick man makes no sense if verse four was not in the original. It seems to me, therefore, that modern translations that omit this verse contradict themselves when they say the "stirring of the water" was just a "superstition of the times."
Is it conceivable that the Angel at the pool is a foreshadowing of our Lord? The hope that the Angel brought to these sick and invalid people would be offered to all people and fulfilled in Jesus Christ as He, alone, can heal our sins.
Jesus later finds this same man at the Temple, and reminds him, “See, you are well again. Stop sinning or something worse may happen to you.” These few verses in John, Chapter 5, should serve to remind us, as well. We are made whole through our faith in Jesus Christ. Through the miracle of His birth, He came to heal us, and He stirs our soul to follow Him in obedience and love. I choose to believe and accept the inclusion of these verses as the complete and true Word of God.