Last week we studied how Jesus showed incredible love and compassion on a woman who was considered “unlovable” and an outcast in the Jewish culture. This week we see Christ reveal Himself to a poor soul who had been neglected for 38 years!
vs 1-3 “After this there was a feast of the Jews, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. Now there is in Jerusalem by the Sheep Gate a pool, which is called in Hebrew, Bethesda, having five porches. In these lay a great multitude of sick people, blind, lame, paralyzed.”
Here we learn that there is a pool in Israel, called Bethesda, with five roofed colonnades (or porches), where the sick and the lame used to go and wait for this “movement or stirring of the waters”, and then the first person to get wet, was healed. It didn’t matter if they walked, were carried, pushed, etc. that was the belief anyway, we don’t know if they were truly healed. For the doubters, this pool has been excavated by archeologists as well as the five roofed porches.
(Click the link to see the image from http://dannythedigger.com )
vs 5-6 “Now a certain man was there who had an infirmity thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him lying there, and knew that he already had been in that condition a long time, He said to him, “Do you want to be made well?”
It is here that we find this man that has been sitting by the pool waiting by the pool for 38 years, believing to be healed. 38 years! This man was BEYOND desperate to be healed.
Jesus asks him “Do you want to be healed?” Do you think Jesus already knew the answer? Of course Jesus knew the answer. God wants us to come to Him asking. He wants us to reveal our problems, to tell Him why we’re hurting, frustrated, sad, angry, injured, sick.
Jesus asks the perfect question that gets the man to reveal his true feelings. Of course he wants to be healed, but here he tells God why he is so frustrated, sad, angry. Can you imagine his hurt every time the waters moved that someone ELSE would get carried down and not him? I’m sure there were even Jews there that knew how long he had been waiting. This man had been overlooked for 38 years!! He must have had no family to carry him in and no one cared enough to sit with him and wait, to show they cared.
vs 7-9 “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.” Jesus said to him, “Rise, take up your bed and walk.” And immediately the man was made well, took up his bed, and walked. And that day was the Sabbath.”
He told Jesus all of his anguish in the one sentence “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.”
From David Guzik’s commentary:
“Rise, take up your bed and walk. In this miracle, Jesus does it all with no action on the part of the sick person. This shows us that the New Testament describes many different ways people may be healed.
– The elders of the church can anoint someone with oil, pray for them, and they may be healed (James 5:14-16).
– God’s people can lay hands on each other in prayer, ask God for healing, and people may be healed (Mark 16:17-18).
– God may grant someone a gift of healing – either that they are directly healed, or have the power to minister healing to another (1 Corinthians 12:9).
– God may grant healing in response to the faith of the person who desires to be healed (Matthew 9:22).
– God may grant healing in response to the faith of another on behalf of the person who is healed (Mark 2:4-5; Matthew 8:13).
– God may heal through medical treatment (1 Timothy 5:23; James 5:14 with Luke 10:34).
In this case, none of these methods involving human participation are used. Sometimes God just sovereignly heals. He takes the initiative, He does the work. Why did Jesus choose this man to heal? Why did Jesus not heal the others there who were sick or crippled?”
In every situation and circumstance in the Bible, every verse, every passage, God put it there to teach us more about Him and to point us back to Jesus.
For my name’s sake I defer my anger,
For the sake of my praise I restrain it for you,
that I may not cut you off.
Behold, I have refined you, but not as silver;
I have tried you in the furnace of affliction.
For my own sake, for my own sake, I do it, for how should my name be profaned?
My glory I will not give to another.
~ Isaiah 48:9-11
God makes it very clear throughout His word that He is to be glorified above all. He has many ways He chooses to do that in our hearts. One of those ways is in deferring His own anger and sending us His Son Jesus to die for our sin so that we may live. Another way He does that is through affliction.
There is much to learn about God through suffering. In this case with the man next to the healing waters, God is using his affliction – his pain and suffering – to glorify Jesus.
Within those difficult and painful situations in our lives, there is nothing God wants more than for us to turn to Him for help, healing, comfort, and strength.
There is no one like You among the gods, O Lord, Nor are there any works like Yours. All nations whom You have made shall come and worship before You, O Lord, And they shall glorify Your name. For You are great and do wondrous deeds; You alone are God. ~ Psalms 86:8-10
Look at what happens next in verses 10-15:
The Jews therefore said to him who was cured, “It is the Sabbath; it is not lawful for you to carry your bed.”
He answered them, “He who made me well said to me, ‘Take up your bed and walk.’ ”
Then they asked him, “Who is the Man who said to you, ‘Take up your bed and walk’?”
But the one who was healed did not know who it was, for Jesus had withdrawn, a multitude being in that place.
Afterward Jesus found him in the temple, and said to him, “See, you have been made well. Sin no more, lest a worse thing come upon you.”
The man departed and told the Jews that it was Jesus who had made him well.
All Jesus had to do to perform this miracle was to speak “Take up your bed and walk”, and then man was healed. Can you imagine the joy he felt? Of course he was going to do exactly as Jesus had told him. He picked up his bed and walked around! to the Jews, this violated the law which says ypu cannot work on the Sabbath, and carrying your bed around would be considered “work”. But the intent of God here was to glorify His Son Jesus.
“The man departed and told the Jews that it was Jesus who had made him well.” This man was so thankful that he walked around the city and told of the incredible miracle Jesus had done in his life. That’s certainly what God wants from us. Just speak the truth to others about what God has done in our lives.
vs 16-18: “For this reason the Jews persecuted Jesus, and sought to kill Him, because He had done these things on the Sabbath. But Jesus answered them, ‘My Father has been working until now, and I have been working.’ Therefore the Jews sought all the more to kill Him, because He not only broke the Sabbath, but also said that God was His Father, making Himself equal with God.”
Jesus was showing love, God’s love, to this poor, sick man. “Then Jesus answered and said to them, ‘Most assuredly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He sees the Father do; for whatever He does, the Son also does in like manner.'” Jesus does what the Father does. Just like we should be doing. We should be showing God’s love, care, and concern for others by HELPING them. We should be LOOKING for ways and opportunities to jump in and help someone else. That was not the heart of the Jewish leaders; in fact they were looking for folks to break the “law” so they could be the law enforcers. God calls us all to care about this man and his suffering and those we see who are suffering.
If you pour yourself out for the hungry and satisfy the desire of the afflicted, then shall your light rise in the darkness and your gloom be as the noonday. ~ Isaiah 58:10
God says if we help those in need, the light of Christ will shine through us into the darkness of their lives.
vs 22-23 “For the Father judges no one, but has committed all judgment to the Son, that all should honor the Son just as they honor the Father. He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent Him.”
When we show love and care for others, we honor God and we reflect Christ to them.
vs 24 “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life.”
Those of us who hear God’s Word, and believe in Jesus and that He died and rose again for us, have eternal life. What a gift! And we share that gift with others when we show them we care and we help them.
vs 28-29 “Do not marvel at this; for the hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will hear His voice and come forth; those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation.”
How else can we interpret this? Like it or not, believe it or not, hell is a very real place. We will all be resurrected for one place or the other – there is no in-between or alternative. We will each be resurrected for heaven (life), or resurrected for hell (condemnation).
vs 36 “But I have a greater witness than John’s; for the works which the Father has given Me to finish; the very works that I do; bear witness of Me, that the Father has sent Me.”
Remember we talked about the “witness” of John the Baptist? John went out and prepared the way for Jesus’ ministry. He told the Jews that a Savior was coming. Jesus is saying that the good things he does, the miracles, the Father’s love He shows to others – all of that is a greater witness of His Godship than John’s words. The Bible is an eyewitness account of God’s work and His words to us. Believe it or not.