The Pool of Bethesda was “in Jerusalem near the Sheep Gate” (John 5:2), which places it north of the temple, near Fort Antonia. John gives the additional detail that the pool was “surrounded by five covered colonnades.” During Jesus’ time, the Pool of Bethesda lay outside the city walls. It was at this pool that Jesus performed a miracle. The Pool of Bethesda was used in ancient times to provide water for the temple. The mention of the “Upper Pool” in 2 Kings 18:17 is a reference to the Pool of Bethesda. Sometime during the Hasmonean Period, an additional pool was added to the original one.
The name of the pool, “Bethesda,” is Aramaic. It means “House of Mercy.” John tells us that “a great number of disabled people used to lie there—the blind, the lame, the paralyzed” (John 5:3). The covered colonnades would have provided shade for the disabled who gathered there, but there was another reason for the popularity of the Pool of Bethesda. Legend had it that an angel would come down into the pool and “stir up the water.” The first person into the pool after the stirring of the water “was made well from whatever disease with which he was afflicted”
“After this there was a feast of the Jews; and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. Now there is at Jerusalem by the sheep market a pool, which is called in the Hebrew tongue Bethesda, having five porches. In these lay a great multitude of impotent folk, of blind, halt, withered, waiting for the moving of the water. For an angel went down at a certain season into the pool, and troubled the water: whosoever then first after the troubling of the water stepped in was made whole of whatsoever disease he had. And a certain man was there, which had an infirmity thirty and eight years. When Jesus saw him lie, and knew that he had been now a long time in that case, he saith unto him, Wilt thou be made whole? The impotent man answered him, Sir, I have no man, when the water is troubled, to put me into the pool: but while I am coming, another steppeth down before me. Jesus saith unto him, Rise, take up thy bed, and walk. And immediately the man was made whole, and took up his bed, and walked: and on the same day was the sabbath.” John 5:1–9
In this account we see that Jesus never disputed the advent of people being healed in the pool or that an Angel disturbed the waters in order that men be healed. Jesus moved directly to healing the man directly. The power of the healing in the pool was from an Angel of the Lord and the truthfulness of the account rest in the fact that Jesus did not dispute this in the encounter with the man, which in keeping with His character, He would have had this not been true.