Jesus is on a mission. His mission is bringing healing to everyone He can. He is full of compassion and has decided that the religious elites of the day are wrong that you can’t heal on the Sabbath. I take great comfort in knowing that Jesus is on my side. Jesus is looking out for me. Jesus brings healing into my life. That is bold. That is some stunning good news.
5 After this, a Jewish festival took place, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. 2 By the Sheep Gate in Jerusalem there is a pool, called Bethesda in Aramaic, which has five colonnades. 3 Within these lay a large number of the disabled—blind, lame, and paralyzed.
5 One man was there who had been disabled for thirty-eight years. 6 When Jesus saw him lying there and realized he had already been there a long time, he said to him, “Do you want to get well?”
7 “Sir,” the disabled man answered, “I have no one to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up, but while I’m coming, someone goes down ahead of me.”
8 “Get up,” Jesus told him, “pick up your mat and walk.” 9 Instantly the man got well, picked up his mat, and started to walk.
Now that day was the Sabbath, 10 and so the Jews said to the man who had been healed, “This is the Sabbath. The law prohibits you from picking up your mat.”
11 He replied, “The man who made me well told me, ‘Pick up your mat and walk.’
12 “Who is this man who told you, ‘Pick up your mat and walk’?” they asked. 13 But the man who was healed did not know who it was, because Jesus had slipped away into the crowd that was there.
14 After this, Jesus found him in the temple and said to him, “See, you are well. Do not sin anymore, so that something worse doesn’t happen to you.” 15 The man went and reported to the Jews that it was Jesus who had made him well. 16 Therefore, the Jews began persecuting Jesus because he was doing these things on the Sabbath. | John 5:1-16 (CSB)
No matter how you look at this miracle, it is an illustration of the grace of God. It was grace that brought Jesus to the Pool of Bethesda, for who would want to mingle with a crowd of helpless people! Jesus did not heal all of them; He singled out one man and healed him. The fact that Jesus came to the man, spoke to him, healed him, and then met him later in the temple is proof of His wonderful grace and mercy.
John noted that the man had been ill for thirty-eight years. Perhaps he saw in this a picture of his own Jewish nation that had wandered in the wilderness for thirty-eight years. Spiritually speaking, Israel was a nation of impotent people, waiting hopelessly for something to happen.
Jesus knew about the man and asked him if he wanted to be healed. You would think that the man would have responded with an enthusiastic, “Yes! I want to be healed!” But, instead, he began to give excuses! He had been in that sad condition for so long that his will was as paralyzed as his body. Jesus had a spiritual lesson in mind as well. Indeed, this man did illustrate the tragic spiritual state of the nation.
The Master Jesus healed him through the power of His spoken word. He commanded the man to do the very thing he was unable to do, but in His command was the power of fulfillment. The cure was immediate and certainly some of the many people at the pool must have witnessed it. Jesus did not pause to heal anyone else; instead, He “moved away” so as not to create a problem. (The Greek word means “to dodge.”)
The miracle would have caused no problem except that it occurred on the Sabbath Day. Our Messiah certainly could have come a day earlier, or even waited a day; but He wanted to get the attention of the religious elites. Later, He would deliberately heal a blind man on the Sabbath. The scribes had listed thirty-nine tasks that were prohibited on the Sabbath, and carrying a burden was one of them. Instead of rejoicing at the wonderful deliverance of the man, the religious leaders condemned him for carrying his bed and thereby breaking the law. Yikes! What hypocrisy. That is really what they said.
It is not easy to understand the relationship between this man and Jesus. There is no evidence that he believed on the Messiah and was converted, yet we cannot say that he was opposed to the Savior. In fact, he did not even know who it was that healed him until Jesus met him in the temple. No doubt the man went there to give thanks to God and to offer the appropriate sacrifices. It seems strange that the man did not actively seek a closer relationship with the One who healed him, but more than one person has gratefully accepted the gift and ignored the Giver.
Did the man “inform” on Jesus because of fear? We do not know. The Jewish leaders at least turned from him and aimed their accusations at Jesus; and, unlike the healed blind man in John 9, this man was not excommunicated. The Master’s words suggest that the man’s physical plight had been the result of sin; but Jesus did not say that the man’s sins had been forgiven as He did in dealing with the sick man lowered through the roof. It is possible to experience an exciting miracle and still not be saved and go to heaven!
Christian Standard Bible. (2017). (Jn 5:1–47). Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers.
Wiersbe, W. W. (1996). The Bible exposition commentary (Vol. 1, pp. 304–305). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.