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Summary: The miracle of the man who had been lame for 38 years has many unique and unusual aspects; One is the question which Jesus asks him: "Do you want to be healed?" What would your answer be?

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5 31 15 The Sabbath Healing at the Pool John 5:1-18

When you are sick for a long time, what is your hope? I want to get well; if you are a person of prayer, you would be praying for good health. If you were paralyzed for 38 years, would you have lost hope of ever walking again? The answer would be, “Of course! Nothing has changed in all these years so why should today or tomorrow be any different?” Such a case is recorded in John 5 (NAS) in today’s passage.

1 After these things (after an indefinite period of time) there was a feast of the Jews, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. 2 Now there is in Jerusalem by the sheep gate a pool, which is called in Hebrew Bethesda,(Meaning House of Divine Mercy) having five porticoes. 3 In these lay a multitude of those who were sick, blind, lame, and withered, {this next phrase and verse 4 were most likely added in a later manuscript as a historical note to explain why people waited in such large numbers by the pool: it is in brackets in some translations or maybe added as a footnote} [waiting for the moving of the waters; 4 for an angel of the Lord went down at certain seasons into the pool and stirred up the water; whoever then first, after the stirring up of the water, stepped in was made well from whatever disease with which he was afflicted.]

HISTORICAL SETTING

A few historical notes in verses 1-4: 1. We don’t know for sure which Feast is referred to here; it could be the Feast of Tabernacles or the Feast of Dedication) There are three other Passovers mentioned in John which would make Jesus’ ministry between 2-3 years in length. If this was another Passover which Jesus attended, then the length of His ministry would be between 3-4 years.

This “sheep gate” (called Nehemiah’s sheep gate) was a small gate on the northeast side of ancient Jerusalem and archeology has uncovered the remains of the pool and the five colonnades. It is thought by some that this pool was actually used to clean sheep that were coming into the city to be presented for sacrifices and so it would have been considered unclean by the Jewish leadership and practicing Jews. Upper class Jews would not sit around this pool hoping to be made well, because only the unclean sat there, the hopeless, sick, paralyzed beggars would hope that the rumor was true that if the waters were stirred by an angel, the first one in would be healed. The Leadership knew the superstition to be untrue but did nothing to stop the unfounded hope: In their thinking, at least those kinds of people were not on the main streets.

A STRANGE QUESTION AND A DIVINE HEALING

Look at verse 5 “A man was there who had been ill for thirty-eight years. 6 When Jesus saw him lying there, and knew that he had already been a long time in that condition, He said to him, "Do you wish to get well?" 7 The sick man answered Him, "Sir, I have no man to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up, but while I am coming, another steps down before me." 8 Jesus said to him, "Get up, pick up your pallet (a poor man’s mattress or roll up pad) and walk." 9 Immediately the man became well, and picked up his pallet and began to walk.

You would have to think that the question Jesus asked was pretty strange, especially considering that the average life span of men in that time was around 40 years old. You’ve been lame your entire life, 38 years without any so-called “normal life”, no occupation, no way to support yourself, your only friends are in the same situation as you, and a stranger picks YOU out of a crowd (and that is exactly what Jesus did: He chose on that day the person he was going to heal, the man did not come seeking Jesus) and Jesus says; “Do you wish to get well?” JESUS TAKES THE INITIATIVE HERE. HE COMES TO THE LAME MAN AND the lame man doesn’t even know who he is.

You notice that the man doesn’t say what most of us would say: “Are you kidding me? Of COURSE I WANT TO GET WELL!” But he seems to tell Jesus what he feels is the reason for his continued sickness: I haven’t been able to be the first person into the pool, that’s why I’m not well. Evidently his focus for the cure had been on the WATER and he never saw beyond the water as the cure. Getting into the water first was his hope, even though that was only rumor and superstition. I imagined this: If all these beggars are sitting around the pool staring at the water and waiting for a breeze to “move the water” how would they know who got in first! MOST LIKELY no one ever got healed, but when you are in a hopeless and desperate situation, you are likely to try anything! People still do that today don’t they?

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