Christ Healing at the Well of Bethesda by Carl Heinrich Bloch

Christ Healing at the Well of Bethesda

“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 whatever 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…” (John 5:2-9).

The Savior is the ultimate healer of any physical ailment, but He also possesses the ability to make the soul complete.  He singularly can give what is needed for anyone afflicted to rise again, regardless of circumstances.  His empathetic willingness to minister to the downtrodden offers tender hope for those in need of lifting.

Additional reading: “Wilt Thou Be Made Whole?

Much commentary has been written regarding this well-known masterpiece, including the following: “In this large painting, Bloch depicts a gathering of people with various infirmities or diseases who have come to the pool at Bethesda to be healed.  In the right background are three women representing three generations – a grandmother, a mother and a child – who have come to draw water from the pool.  Barely noticeable is the man in the lower-left foreground who has no legs but who puts his hands in his sandals so he can swing his body forward toward the water.  Behind the impressive and brilliant figure of Christ stands one of the Apostles, who shields Him from the crowds while He approaches the man who has had an infirmity for thirty-eight years.  As Jesus lifts the blanket shading the seated figure, the reflected light from the Savior begins to illuminate the face of the awestruck man. The most intriguing and carefully rendered figure in the crowd is the man with the red turban who sits on the steps…  His eyes, as well as the eyes of the young child in the background, meet the eyes of the viewer with an acknowledgment that we are all participants in a powerful spiritual experience.  The steps of the pool curve outward to include us in the composition, as though we are standing on these same steps.  Perhaps we, too, have come to the Pool of Bethesda to be healed.  The man’s eyes seem to penetrate ours and to confront us.  Is he resentful of our presence?  Or is he pleading for our assistance to help him into the pool?  The man’s central location between the still water of the pool, known for its healing properties, and the Living Water who stands behind him presents the viewer with cause for reflection.” (footnote: Pheysey, Dawn C., and Richard Neitzel Holzapfel. The Master’s Hand: The Art of Carl Heinrich Bloch. Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 2010.)

Additional interpretations of the painting “Christ Healing at the Well of Bethesda” can be found  here and here.

More information on the artist: “The Life of Christ Painted by Carl Heinrich Bloch