Jesus had gone to Jerusalem for a Jewish Feast and while there He went to the pool at Bethesda. People who needed healing of any kind would gather around the pool and wait. At various times and angel would come down and stir the waters of the pool. Whoever entered the water first when the angel stirred the water would be healed. Verses 5-6 tell us,
“One man was there who had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. 6 When Jesus saw him lying there and knew that he had already been there a long time, he said to him, “Do you want to be healed?”
It was Jesus who initiated this encounter. Jesus saw the man’s need and asked, “Do you want to be healed.” Of course we would all assume that the man wants to be healed. That is the reason he is at the pool. But sometimes those questions can make you reflect on what you really want. Do you want to be healed? Do you want to move past this and experience a fullness of life you couldn’t before? Do you want to remain in your current state and stay with what you know even if it is crippling you?
Verse 7 reads,
“The sick man answered him, “Sir, I have no one to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up, and while I am going another steps down before me.”
Have you wondered why Jesus didn’t heal everyone at the pool? Why did He choose this man? Here lies an answer, the sick man had no one to help him. He was alone. He wanted to get to the pool, he wanted to be healed but he couldn’t do it without intervention. This man needed Jesus. He answered Jesus’ question by giving him an explanation of why he hadn’t been healed yet instead of a yes or no. Rather than ask for Jesus to stick around and help him into the pool, he presented his need and let Jesus be the one to offer to help him. But Jesus knew His need, and Jesus knew a better way. Verses 8-9 read,
“Jesus said to him, “Get up, take up your bed, and walk.”9 And at once the man was healed, and he took up his bed and walked.”
Jesus met this man’s need immediately. He knew the man wanted healing and that He was his only hope of having the need met. But what was this man’s response to this amazing gift? It turned out that this took place on the Sabbath. The Jewish leaders had taken what was mean to be a beautiful day of honoring God and turned it into a day filled with rules to ban any activity that might be considered work. They couldn’t even light a candle. They had taken the Lord out of the Sabbath.
As the man was leaving he came across some leaders who said, “Whoa! Dude, it’s the Sabbath you can’t be carrying your bed! It’s against the law!”
Immediately the man answered, “But I was just doing what the man who healed me told me to do. It wasn’t me it was him!” But Jesus was nowhere to be seen and the man didn’t know who had healed him. The man was about to get in trouble for breaking the rules and instead of dealing with it, instead of praising God for a miracle he says, “It’s not my fault, I was just doing what I was told.” Neither this man nor the Jewish leaders stopped to praise God for the healing. They were too concerned with rules and punishment.
Verse 14 reads,
“Afterward Jesus found him in the temple and said to him, “See, you are well! Sin no more, that nothing worse may happen to you.”
Jesus found the man at the temple. He could have avoided him but Jesus is loving and forgiving. He reminded the ungrateful man of the miracle and told him to sin no more. The miracle would not be complete without Jesus revealing Himself to the man. The healing and forgiveness was from Jesus, the Son of God. This man had to know where his healing came from. He had to know that God was his Healer and that He had been offered this new life because of the Great and Mighty All-Sufficient Lord. Without this second encounter, the miracle wouldn’t be complete. The man would be healed but God was not glorified and the man wouldn’t have been given a choice to change his life and walk with Jesus as a believer.
What was the man’s reaction? Did he immediately run to the priest and make an offering for his healing? Did He praise God and tell everyone of the miracle that would forever change him? Verse 16 tells us.
“The man went away and told the Jews that it was Jesus who had healed him.”
The man wasn’t grateful. He chose not to believe Jesus. He chose not accept the gift of forgiveness. So what did Jesus do? Did He take back the healing? Did He condemn the man? No, Jesus healed the man out of love. His love is deep and perfect and was not lessened because the man reacted in such a human way. Jesus doesn’t take back the gifts He gives. Even though the man’s betrayal stirred up the Jews against Him, Jesus stilled loved the man and still let Him have His opportunity for a new life. Jesus used the betrayal to further glorify His Father even though it put Him in danger. Verse 16-18 read,
“And this was why the Jews were persecuting Jesus, because he was doing these things on the Sabbath. 17 But Jesus answered them, “My Father is working until now, and I am working.”
18 This was why the Jews were seeking all the more to kill him, because not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God.”
The Jewish leaders were no longer simply concerned about Jesus. Curiosity had turned to fear and fear to anger and hatred. Now they were out to kill him. Jesus didn’t let that stop Him from speaking truth, loving people or glorifying God. He used the chance to teach them. We will read His response tomorrow.