About Jesus  -  Steve Sweetman

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The Healing At The Pool (ch. 5:1-15)


Verse 1 says that some time later Jesus went up to Jerusalem for a feast of the Jews.   John does not say what feast this is but many believe it's another feast of Passover.  If this was the Passover, then Jesus had at least a four year ministry because this would have been the second of the four Passovers He attended.  That being said, not all think this feast was Passover.  Some suggest that this feast might well be one of the fall feasts. 


In verse 2 John tells us that there was a pool called Bethesda, which means "house of mercy."  This pool was near the sheep gate in the temple.  The sheep gate was a gate in the wall of Jerusalem on the northeast side.  Apparently people would bring sheep for sacrifices through this gate.


The NIV calls the pool Bethesda, but other translations call it by other names.  For some reason, there are a number of manuscripts with differing names in this verse.


Verse 3 tells us that a number of disabled people lay waiting around this pool.    


You may notice the numbering system in the NIV skips from 3 to verse 5, omitting verse 4.  Verse 4 is in the KJV.  There is clearly a manuscript problem concerning this verse. 


Verse 4, in the KJV, tells us that from time to time an angel came and moved the water and the first one in the pool would receive a healing.  This would be the reason why the disabled people of verse 3 hung out by the pool 


Whether this verse is inserted or not makes no difference to the text.  In verse 6 we learn that Jesus focused on one, just one, of these disabled people.  Why He only focused on one and didn't have a mass healing meeting is unknown.  It might well be that Jesus did not want to create a stir in Jerusalem because His time to be arrested had not yet come. 


In verse 7 we note that after Jesus asked this one paralyzed man if he wanted to be healed, he answered Jesus by telling Him that he had no one to help him get into the water after the water was stirred up.  So, the stirring of the water may be omitted in the NIV in verse 4 but we see its contents here in verse 7.


As we saw with Nicodemus in chapter 3 and the woman at the well in chapter 4, there is a disconnect between Jesus and this crippled man. 


The question can be asked, "Did an angel really come down and stir up the water?"  There is a good chance, at least in my thinking, that this was more of a tradition than a reality.  Yes, it could well be possible that an angel came and stirred up the water.  It is also possible that John is only relating to his readers what the general perception of this pool was all about.  I personally have a hard time believing that an angel actually came down from Heaven to stir up this pool.  In my thinking, it just doesn't fit into the general understanding of the Bible and angels. 


In verse 8 we see that Jesus told this crippled man to take up his bed and walk.  The bed was a mat that he laid on.  We have no hint that Jesus laid hands on this man.  He did not appear to cast a demon out of this person.  He merely spoke a word of healing.  As I have said before, there is no set formula for healing.  Jesus healed people in a variety of ways.


Concerning faith that leads to one being healed, this man had no prior faith in Jesus.  You might go as far to say that he had no faith in Jesus.  However, he did obey Jesus.  He did pick up his bed and walk.  Faith in this instance implies obedience.  Faith in this instance means, as it always does, trust in Jesus.  This man simply trusted Jesus and what He said to him.   


There was a major problem with this man being healed and that was he carried his mat on the Sabbath day as verse 9 tells us.  So, the Pharisees inquired from him why he carried his mat on the Sabbath.  He told them that "the man who made me well told me to pick up my mat and walk."


We need to understand that this man did not break any law found in the Law of Moses.  He just broke a rabbinical law, one of the multitudes of laws added to the Law of Moses by the religious establishment.     


In verse 12 the Pharisees asked the man who healed him and told him to carry his bed and walk.  Jesus never introduced Himself to this crippled man.  He just slipped into the crowd and disappeared from sight.  Later on, as seen in verse 14, Jesus met the man at the temple and told him to stop sinning or something worse may happen, implying that sometime sin causes illness.             


Since Jesus slipped into the crowd, this might answer the question I asked earlier, "why didn't Jesus heal more than one person here?"  Obviously it had to be God's will but it just might be that healing too many people would have caused too much of a problem for Jesus in relation to the Pharisees that might have caused Him to be arrested before His time


You might want to ask what kind of sin this man might have committed being paralyzed most of his life.  We donít know what sin Jesus had in mind, if He even had any particular sin in mind.  


Jesus seems to be suggesting that if this man did not stop sinning something worse than being paralyzed might happen to him.  Does this mean that sin can cause illness and hardship to come our way?  It does to a degree, but it doesnít suggest that every illness or hardship is a result of sin.  Some sin does bring negative consequences.  It is the law of cause and effect.  That's simple logic.  Smoking can produce lung cancer. Whatever Jesus had in mind, we just don't really know.  We'd only be speculating in our attempts to figure it out.  One thing I'd caution upon is that we should not view every sickness being a result of sin in one's life.  We certainly need valid Holy Spirit discernment on this matter. 


Verse 15 tells us that this crippled man then left Jesus and went back to the Jewish leaders and told them that it was Jesus who healed him, something that made if difficult for Jesus.  Just why this man took the time to return to the Jewish leaders is unknown.  He could not have been that dumb to not realize that Jesus would get in trouble for what He had done.  This might well be another reason why Jesus chose this man to heal.  This brought up one of the main conflicts that Jesus had with the Jewish religious leaders, that being, the question of the Sabbath, what could be done on the Sabbath and what should not be done on the Sabbath.

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