John 5:1-18 (ESV)
The Healing at the Pool on the Sabbath
1 After this 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, in Aramaic called Bethesda, which has five roofed colonnades. 3 In these lay a multitude of invalids—blind, lame, and paralyzed. 5 One man was there who had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. 6 When Jesus saw him lying there and knew that he had already been there a long time, he said to him, “Do you want to be healed?” 7 The sick man answered him, “Sir, I have no one to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up, and while I am going another steps down before me.” 8 Jesus said to him, “Get up, take up your bed, and walk.” 9 And at once the man was healed, and he took up his bed and walked. Now that day was the Sabbath. 10 So the Jews said to the man who had been healed, “It is the Sabbath, and it is not lawful for you to take up your bed.” 11 But he answered them, “The man who healed me, that man said to me, ‘Take up your bed, and walk.’ ” 12 They asked him, “Who is the man who said to you, ‘Take up your bed and walk’?” 13 Now the man who had been healed did not know who it was, for Jesus had withdrawn, as there was a crowd in the place. 14 Afterward Jesus found him in the temple and said to him, “See, you are well! Sin no more, that nothing worse may happen to you.” 15 The man went away and told the Jews that it was Jesus who had healed him. 16 And this was why the Jews were persecuting Jesus, because he was doing these things on the Sabbath. 17 But Jesus answered them, “My Father is working until now, and I am working.” 18 This was why the Jews were seeking all the more to kill him, because not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God.
I should have seen it coming. The sign warned me in advance; slow down, there’s a dip in the road. I saw the sign, but I really didn’t give it much attention and by the time I reached the dip in the road it was too late, and my truck took a pretty big bounce as I drove through.
At the beginning of John’s Gospel, we were given a sign. He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him (1:10-11).
We feel the impact of those verses in this passage. Jesus has come bringing new life into the world. This new life is the work of His Heavenly Father and it isn’t restrained or contained by any previous practices or traditions.
But Jesus’ own people are not willing to receive this new life or to hear from the living word. It’s not what they expected, it’s going to change the way they’ve always done things and shake things up. In fact, it already has when the Samaritans came to believe. So, we have here the beginnings of conflict and opposition that will be fueled by incredible jealousy and anger which will eventually lead to Jesus being arrested, suffering, and dying on the cross.
This is, in case you’re counting, the third miraculous sign in John’s Gospel, and once again, the sign is performed through a simple word from Jesus. What’s more amazing to me is that no one praises God for the miraculous healing of a man who has been lame for almost 40 years. Not even the man himself! If anything, it seems as if the man blames Jesus for his healing when he is confronted by the religious leaders for violating the Sabbath by carrying his bed.
But let’s not rush to judgment too quickly because the more I think about it, I realize that often I’m more like this man than I care to admit.
Sometimes, if we’re honest, we just expect Jesus to take care of our needs and then carry on with our day as if Jesus is a cosmic vending machine who needs to meet our demands and give us what we want. We put in our “prayer quarters” and expect Him to dispense what we want when we want it.
The challenge for us is to recognize that Jesus is at work in our lives. We may not be able to see it (we often don’t see how the Lord is working) but we can acknowledge His grace, His presence with us, and give Jesus praise for the new life He has and is breathing into us.
God has been and continues to be at work in my life and in yours. How will we respond? Will we walk away like the man who was healed, will we become angry like the religious leaders, or will we be like the father whose son was healed or like the Samaritans and rejoice at the new life that has been breathed into our soul?
God bless you and know that you are constantly in my prayers.
John 5:1-18 (ESV)