Summary: The answer to this crippled man’s need is not in the troubled water but faith in the person, Jesus Christ. His struggles and decisions are not unlike our own as we respond to God.
Getting Well and Staying Well
Fortifying the Foundations #12
As we read our text this morning I will touch on a couple of technical matters that are helpful to understand but not necessary to the flow of the message.
5:1Some time later, This is a somewhat inexact reference to time that has expired after the events recorded in chapter 4 in Samaria and Galilee—the woman at the well encounter, the healing of the Royal Officer’s son. We do not know exactly how much time later.
Jesus went up to Jerusalem for a feast of the Jews. No one knows for sure which feast this is referring to. Some manuscripts have the definite article “the” feast. That would make it the Passover feast but others do not. So what is the significance of this? If a Passover feast occurred at this time or near this time, then Jesus ministry lasted three or four years. If there is not a Passover feast in here then his ministry lasted two or three years. I am inclined to agree with those who view this as a Passover feast.
2Now there is in Jerusalem near the Sheep Gate a pool, which in Aramaic is called Bethesda and which is surrounded by five covered colonnades. 3Here a great number of disabled people used to lie-the blind, the lame, the paralyzed. 5One who was there had been an invalid for thirty-eight years.
You will find in some of your translations at the end of verse 3 and verse 4 a statement something like this: “...waiting for the moving of the water. 4For an angel went down at a certain time into the pool and stirred up the water; then whoever stepped in first, after the stirring of the water, was made well of whatever disease he had.” NKJV
Most scholars agree that those words are not a part of the original text but were supplied by a scribe to clarify the narrative. There was a reason all these sick people gathered by this pool and the man’s words in verse 7 are a part of the inspired text indicating something like this is going on. In textual criticism this kind of addition is called an interpolation. This is nothing to be concerned about and has little impact on the message of the text but it is sometimes helpful to understand what is happening with the differences in translations.
6When 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." 8Then Jesus said to him, "Get up! Pick up your mat and walk." 9At once the man was cured; he picked up his mat and walked. The day on which this took place was a Sabbath, 10and so the Jews said to the man who had been healed, "It is the Sabbath; the law forbids you to carry your mat."
11But he replied, "The man who made me well said to me, `Pick up your mat and walk.’"
12So they asked him, "Who is this fellow who told you to pick it up and walk?"
13The man who was healed had no idea who it was, for Jesus had slipped away into the crowd that was there. 14Later Jesus found him at the temple and said to him, "See, you are well again. Stop sinning or something worse may happen to you." 15The man went away and told the Jews that it was Jesus who had made him well. NIV
Jesus went to Jerusalem for this feast. The Jewish feast were great times of rejoicing. There were a lot of people in the city. They were having a good time with friends and family. All this celebrating was ordained of God and good. People were having fun eating and visiting with one another.
I. Jesus goes to a place that’s not so fun—a place filled with pain and suffering. It is not a place any of us would want to be. Hundreds of people have gathered around this Pool of Bethesda. They have all pressed in as close to the pool as they can get. They watch the water for any sign of agitation. Each one is hoping to be the first one in—only the first one gets healed. All the rest get disappointed—not much of a chance but these people have no other options. They are desperate people. They are hurting people.
The smell of animals and sickness is fills the air. People with all kinds of diseases and afflictions have crammed into this small area. Most of them are too sick to bath themselves. They are unable to properly bandage their own wounds. I doubt bathroom facilities are adequate and even if they were many of these people would not be able to use them. The smell of disease, gangrene, running sores and sickness is repulsive to breathe.