Summary of passage: Jesus was in Galilee in Chapter 4, healing the official’s son and now we’re back to Jerusalem where Jesus heals a man at a pool at Bethesda on the Sabbath. He tells the man to get up, pick up his mat, and walk and the man does. This is in Jerusalem at the feast of the Jews. The Jews told the man he can’t do work on the Sabbath i.e. carry his mat. The man says Jesus told him to.
3) 38 years. He can’t walk so he lies around. He’s angry or full of self-pity when he says he has no one to help him to the poor and people are always jumping in front of him. But the man has great faith in Jesus’ words because he does as told: gets up, picks up his mat, and walks.
4a) “Get up!”
b) Personal Question. My answer: To always turn to him for the answers first. To trust in events and circumstances that God is in control.
5) Part personal Question. My answer: “See, you are well again. Stop sinning or something worse may happen to you.” We must obey Jesus all the time because we are in danger of turning from him, following the wrong path, and ending up worse than we are now. Sin leads us down the wrong path. Jesus wants us on his path.
Conclusions: I’m disappointed there were no questions on the “Jews” (most likely the Pharisees) who were angry that Jesus healed on the Sabbath. There’s no in-depth questions on the feast of the Jews or the Sabbath either. There’s so much to this passage and we took a very superficial approach here. See End Notes for much more.
End Notes: Scholars are unsure which feast this is but it was probably one of the major three feasts in which attendance was required: either Passover, Pentecost, or Purim/Tabernacles. If it was a Passover, then there were four Passovers in Jesus’ ministry, making it last 3½ years. John explicitly mentions 3 Passovers (2:13, 23; 6:4; 11:55, 12:1), which would make Jesus’ ministry only 2 1/2 years).
The pool in Bethesda has been excavated and does indeed have 5 porches as John describes. Although he speaks in the present tense, this doesn’t necessarily mean the temple is still standing.
The belief was that an angel of the Lord would come down and stir up the waters of this pool. The first one into the pool after each such disturbance would be cured of whatever disease he had. Hence, the congregation of the blind, lame and paralyzed. The belief was this only happened at certain times such as at Passover or at feasts.
If this were true, it would be unusual in the Bible (outside of Jesus’ miracles). Other examples of healings; 2 Kings 4:38-41; 2 Kings 5:10-14; 2 Kings 13:20-21; Acts 5:14-16; Acts 19:11-12
There were a multitude of people sick at this pool and Jesus selected this man to meet his need. None of these people looked to Jesus. Instead, they all stared into a pool–waiting. So many of us do this: wait on circumstances and events in our lives that will never be perfect. Look to Jesus and pray instead!
Jesus asks the man first if he wants to get well. Some people don’t. Some are so defeated by their condition they lose heart. Jesus needed to make sure the man still had heart. People who have lived that long with a disease know no other life and the thought of losing that comfort zone scares them.
Here, the man is hopeful (he comes to the pool) but unhopeful (he won’t ever get in the waters).
In faith, the man obeyed Jesus. And look what happened! Normally, Jesus healed only if one had faith in him but this man did not know him but he still had faith.
Healing in the Bible: anointing, praying, faith, and medical treatment: James 5:14-16; Mark 16:17-18; 1 Corinthians 12:9; Matthew 9:22; Mark 2:4-5; Matthew 8:13; 1 Timothy 5:23; James 5:14 with Luke 10:34.
When John says “the Jews”, he refers to the Jewish leaders.
Carrying the bed was work, which according the rabbis, was forbidden on the Sabbath. This is man’s interpretation of God’s laws, not God’s laws. The penalty for doing work on the Sabbath could be severe–even being stoned.
Jesus ignored all custom and said it is good to do good on the Sabbath (John 5:17, John 7:23; Luke 6:9; 13:15; 14:5).
Still to this day, orthodox Jews do no work on the Sabbath.
Note the Rabbis don’t care that the man was healed. All they care about is him carrying a mat on the Sabbath.
Jesus disappears as he didn’t want a riot to break out amongst the other disabled.
Jesus finds the man again to warn him his spiritual health is in danger. He needs to now focus on doing good with his new-found life.
Note the first betrayal here of Jesus: the man found the Jewish leaders and told them it was indeed Jesus Christ. The man could have been afraid of the Jewish leaders as well but could have held his tongue and definitely not sought them out. Isn’t it amazing how Jesus knows he will be betrayed but he does it anyways because it’s the right thing to do. I wish to have such an attitude and such heart.
Pool of Bethesda in Art HERE
Map of Bethesda and Jerusalem HERE