During one of Jesus’ trips to Jerusalem, He encounters a man sitting by the poolside at Bethesda waiting for healing when the Healer himself came to him.
Healing at the Pool
Near the Sheep Gate, several disabled people lay beside a pool called Bethesda. The blind, the lame and the paralyzed all waited for some supernatural healing from above. One of these hopefuls was a man who had been invalid for thirty-eight years but was hopeless as he had no one to take him to the pool at the exact time of stirring.
When Jesus saw him lying there and learned that he had been in this condition for a long time, he asked him, “Do you want to get well?”John 5:6
Clearly this man was desperate for healing if he was willing to sit by the crowded pool waiting for his turn to be healed. But still asked him if he wanted to be healed or made whole (KJV). Sometimes we are so used to our condition that it seems to be the new normal to us. We are not able to imagine a life without our persisting condition. We would rather have the sympathy of people than the willingness to come out of our condition. Similarly, there are times when we are so deep into sin that we do not want to come out of it. Jesus is willing to heal us physically and spiritually but we don’t want Him to work His healing power in our life.
“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.”John 5:7
It seems that the man was used to the idea of waiting for the ‘magical’ waters to be stirred and could not understand what Jesus was offering him. He would have expected Jesus and His disciples to help him reach the pool when the waters were stirred. He was depending on that stale pool water rather than on the living water. Likewise we depend on the healing methods that this world has to offer to heal our body, mind and soul but do not want to depend on the ultimate Healer.
“Get up! Pick up your mat and walk.”John 5:8
Jesus simply commands the man to get up and pick his mat and walk. On hearing Jesus’ voice, all the dead muscles and cells were activated in the invalid’s body and he was able to walk. Even the man obeyed Jesus’ words and picked up his mat and started walking. Jesus often gave small tasks to people just before healing them or their loved ones. He has called someone a dog, asked a blind man to wash the mud of his eyes and even asked lepers to go and show themselves to the priest. Small tasks like these and when the people pushed through them, they were able to receive their healing. Since the man did not reply to Jesus’ question of whether he wanted to be healed or not, perhaps this act of obedience on his part after receiving the healing was the answer to that question. How often do we miss our opportunity to receive healing by not obeying Jesus’ words?
Healing on the Sabbath
The day on which this took place was a Sabbath, and so the Jewish leaders said to the man who had been healed, “It is the Sabbath; the law forbids you to carry your mat.”John 5:9-10
This happened on Sabbath, a day on which Jewish laws restrict activities and to which Jewish traditions made several additions. Apparently one could not even carry their mats along with them on the Sabbath. There are no laws that have this mandate so it is probably one of the Jewish traditions baked in as laws to further control the people. Jesus stated many times that the Sabbath was created for man and not the other way round. The pharisees even had problems with Jesus healing on the Sabbath. The day of the Lord had been turned to a day apart from God as even experiencing God’s work in our lives was work according to these traditions. Sabbath was turned into a glorified version of our modern day “lazy Sundays movement”.
So when the pharisees saw the formerly invalid man blatantly breaking the rules of Sabbath they confronted him but he put the blame on Jesus as the person who asked him to break the law. He could not even tell them the name of the person who had healed him. He received healing from Jesus but did not even bother to ask anything about this mysterious man who gave him the ability to walk again. He got an opportunity to know this man when later Jesus caught up to him while he was at the temple and said to him,
“See, you are well again. Stop sinning or something worse may happen to you.”John 5:14
Jesus himself said to His disciples that sin is not the reason for sickness (John 9:3) but to reveal the Glory of God. It is very easy to think that way if we are not the sufferer but Jesus did not utter these words aimlessly and had a purpose for everything He said. Sickness and disabilities are temporary and our perseverance through them is only possible with Christ by our side. It is another means for us to testify about our Lord and for Him to reveal His glory through us. We are never making the journey through the darkest valley alone but with our Good Shepherd by our side.
Jesus asks the man to stop sinning or he would experience something worse. The wages of sin is death and permanent separation from God. Jesus is worried about his spiritual healing above his physical healing as that is what separates us from Him. Our physical ailments can only separate us from God if we let them. While we are on this earth, we would suffer many ailments but we will always have Jesus by our side asking us if we want to come out of our condition. But after this life we would lose our opportunity to ask Jesus for help.
The man went away and told the Jewish leaders that it was Jesus who had made him well.John 5:15
The man probably wanted to clear his name from any wrongdoing and not make an enemy out of the pharisees. On finding out who healed him, he did not start following Jesus or even testified about him but sought to clear his name from the grave sin he had committed by carrying his mat on the sabbath. We are constantly worried about appearances and forget to thank the one who is above all. Out of the ten lepers who received healing, nine went to get themselves certified by their priest while only one returned to thank Jesus. Is our reaction similar when we receive healing from Christ? Does a miracle draw us closer to Him or draw us closer to our sympathizers? Let us use our experiences to pull ourselves towards Christ rather than sharing our experience with others and leaving Christ completely out of the picture.
- V6: Why would Jesus ask am invalid man waiting to be healed such a question?
- V7: What is the man expecting Jesus to do?
- V8: Why did Jesus command the man to pick up his mat also?
- V12: Why were the pharisees more interested about the man carrying his mat and not on how he was healed?
- V14: Is sin the reason for our sickness and disabilities?
- V14: Can we get sick again after Jesus has healed us?
- V15: Why did the man go back to the pharisees to tell them about Jesus?
- What is our response when we get something we needed from Christ?