Summary: The clash between Jesus and the religious leaders was over the Sabbath. They never forgave Him for what He did on the Sabbath days, and then when He said, “…..The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath,” (Mark 2:27) they hated Him.
Harmony of the Gospels
Title: Goes to Jerusalem for Second Passover; Heals Lame Man
The healing of the impotent man by the pool of Bethesda is a very wonderful incident. But it is also a turning point in the ministry of Christ. You see, after this the religious leaders determined to kill him. (See verse 16) They stayed on His track and waited for the right time. They never let up until they put Him to death on the cross.
The clash between Jesus and the religious leaders was over the Sabbath. They never forgave Him for what He did on the Sabbath days, and then when He said, “…..The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath,” (Mark 2:27) they hated Him. They hated Him because of the miracles He did on the Sabbath days and because He made Himself equal with God.
After Jesus heals the impotent man by the pool of Bethesda, He makes several claims about Himself, which His enemies understood as “making Himself equal with God.” The religious leaders believed that He made this claim and they hated Him because of it. There are those today who say that the Bible doesn’t say that Jesus claimed deity or to be equal with God. They must be ignorant of God’s word and have never read the fifth chapter of John.
After this there was a feast of the Jews; and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. Now there is at Jerusalem by the sheep market a pool, which is called in the Hebrew tongue Bethesda, having five porches. In these lay a great multitude of impotent folk, of blind, halt, withered, waiting for the moving of the water. (John 5:1-3)
It is really not important, but I believe that it was the Feast of Passover, that brought Jesus to Jerusalem.
The action is going to take place around a pool of water. A great number of sick people had gathered around the pool, waiting for a miraculous movement of the water. “Impotent folk” are people without strength.
For an angel went down at a certain season into the pool, and troubled the water: whosoever then first after the troubling of the water stepped in was made whole of whatsoever disease he had. (John 5:4)
Now we know why they were there. They believed that at times an angel came down and caused some movement in the water. When that happened, the first person in the water was healed. If there was some history of this happening, we are not told. Had people been healed in this manner before? Probably. I believe that a great many people today have psychological problems that make them sick. Sometimes these people go to faith healers and they think they get healed. There is always the question of whether they were ever really sick. Another question is whether they stay permanently healed. The point is that the Lord Jesus healed people 2000 years ago, and He heals people today, but He does not do it by troubling the water. Also, we can go directly to the Great Physician. We do not need to go to a certain auditorium for healing. I am thankful that today He uses the skill of doctors and surgeons when He heals. Don’t forget to thank Him when you experience healing.
And a certain man was there, which had an infirmity thirty and eight years. (John 5:5)
A certain man was laid by the pool by friends or family. It was probably where he spent every day. We are not given any details about him, except that he had been afflicted for 38 years and that his condition made it difficult for him to move. If anything marked the man’s life, it was disappointment over his inability to get into the water. He will lay out his case before Jesus, but first Jesus is going to deal with this man in a most unusual way.
When Jesus saw him lie, and knew that he had been now a long time in that case, he saith unto him, Wilt thou be made whole. (John 5:6)
That is indeed a peculiar question to ask anyone who is sick, “Do you earnestly desire to be made whole?” Why do you suppose that He asked that question? I suggest that there may have been a couple of reasons. First, to reignite hope in the man’s heart. He had been disappointed so many times, that the light of hope may have gone out. Second, He needed to get the man to turn his attention to Him. He was so focused on the pool that his problem was no longer the infirmity; he thought that his problem was that he didn’t have anyone to help him into the water.