My son loves watching the Disney cartoon “Phineas and Ferb.” Each episode of this television series follows the same arc . . . Phineas and his brother Ferb design amazing creations allowing them to do a variety of wonderful things, all under the watchful eye of their sister Candice, who is on a perpetual quest to “bust” her brothers by showing their dangerous creations to their parents. Every single episode ends with the brother’s creation somehow disappearing before Mom or Dad find out.
I was thinking about that story line while reflecting on the Pool of Bethesda in Jerusalem. This large public pool with five covered colonnades near Jerusalem’s Sheep Gate is the location of a prominent miracle of Jesus in John 5:1-17. For nearly 2,000 years, archaeologists searched for, but could not find, this pool. This lack of discovery caused scholars to wonder aloud if the Pool was an invention of the author of the Gospel of John . . . an assertion that would submarine the historical integrity of the fourth Gospel. It was as if the Pool of Bethesda had simply disappeared at the end of the episode before moderns Moms and Dads could find it.
Then in the 19th century, archaeologists discovered a pool near St. Anne’s Church in Jerusalem’s Muslim quarter that some believed may be the Pool of Bethesda. Further expansion of the dig in 1964 revealed a vast area that resembles both the location and description of the Pool! Though it took nearly 2,000 years, modern skeptics were busted by archaeological evidence once again.
One of the striking things about touring the Holy Land was seeing the archaeological evidence that consistently backs up the biblical record. It is a reminder to us that we do not have a religion based on fairy tales or cartoons. We follow a God who revealed Himself in history . . . including at the Pool of Bethesda where Jesus healed the crippled man in John 5. Seeing this proof reminds me that we can trust Jesus to heal our souls as well.