Summary: Jesus meets a man who has his hopes of healing focused on a pool that is stirred by an angel. Thirty-eight long years of paralysis will finally end, but not as he expected. Who is this strange healer?
Do you want to get well? John 5:1-18
John 5:1 Some time later, Jesus went up to Jerusalem for a feast of the Jews. 2 Now there is in Jerusalem near the Sheep Gate a pool, which in Aramaic is called Bethesda and which is surrounded by five covered colonnades. 3 Here a great number of disabled people used to lie--the blind, the lame, the paralyzed.
4 (and they waited for the moving of the waters. From time to time and angel of the Lord would come down and stir up the waters. The first one into the pool after each such disturbance would be cured of whatever disease he had.)
5 One who was there had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. 6 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?"
7 "Sir," the invalid replied, "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."
8 Then Jesus said to him, "Get up! Pick up your mat and walk." 9 At once the man was cured; he picked up his mat and walked. The day on which this took place was a Sabbath, 10 and so the Jews said to the man who had been healed, "It is the Sabbath; the law forbids you to carry your mat." 11 But he replied, "The man who made me well said to me, ’Pick up your mat and walk.’" 12 So they asked him, "Who is this fellow who told you to pick it up and walk?"
13 The man who was healed had no idea who it was, for Jesus had slipped away into the crowd that was there.
14 Later Jesus found him at the temple and said to him, "See, you are well again. Stop sinning or something worse may happen to you." 15 The man went away and told the Jews that it was Jesus who had made him well. 16 So, because Jesus was doing these things on the Sabbath, the Jews persecuted him. 17 Jesus said to them, "My Father is always at his work to this very day, and I, too, am working." 18 For this reason the Jews tried all the harder to kill him; not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God.
Every time Jesus goes to Judea he gets into trouble with the Jewish religious leaders. John 5 is no exception. Last time it was over cleansing the temple of marketers. This time it is over healing a man on the Sabbath, and claiming God as his father.
John has already said that Jesus is the Word of God made flesh, that Jesus created all things and that he has come to his own, but his own did not receive him. What do you suppose is in the hearts of these Jewish leaders that makes them so resistant to Jesus? What is in the hearts of people today that make them resistant to him?
John shows us in his gospel the developing hostility against Jesus by the Jews of Judea. Those who rejected him thought of him as a rebel from Galilee. He was a troublesome rabbi who had gone off the deep end making blasphemous claims and doing illegal miracles. It begins in chapter 2, but here in chapter 5 they find ammunition to use against him. He is working on the Sabbath and telling others to work on the sabbath too! Later in chapter 9 he heals a blind man on the sabbath, and if that were not enough, he makes claims about himself that sound like he thinks he is equal with God. For this, plus the fact that he keeps telling these leaders what hypocrites they are, they make plans to kill him.
Did you know that doing what God would have you do can be dangerous?
Let’s look at the setting of John 5 as we begin our lesson. Jesus is back in Jerusalem. He has gone to a pool called Bethesda. Here Jesus encounters a group of sick people waiting at this pool for the water to be disturbed. The first one in gets well. If you have any version except the King James and the New King James you will not have verse 4 in your text. This is because someone seems to have added it later as an explanation. There was a superstition that on certain holy days, an angel would disturb the water here and it would have magical powers to heal the first one who got into it after the disturbance.