Read John 5
The Healing at the Pool
1 Some time later, Jesus went up to Jerusalem for one of the Jewish festivals. 2 Now there is in Jerusalem near the Sheep Gate a pool, which in Aramaic is called Bethesda and which is surrounded by five covered colonnades. 3 Here a great number of disabled people used to lie—the blind, the lame, the paralyzed. 5 One who was there had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. 6 When Jesus saw him lying there and learned that he had been in this condition for a long time, he asked him, “Do you want to get well?”
7 “Sir,” the invalid replied, “I have no one to help me into the pool when the water is stirred. While I am trying to get in, someone else goes down ahead of me.”
8 Then Jesus said to him, “Get up! Pick up your mat and walk.” 9 At once the man was cured; he picked up his mat and walked.
The day on which this took place was a Sabbath, 10 and so the Jewish leaders said to the man who had been healed, “It is the Sabbath; the law forbids you to carry your mat.”
11 But he replied, “The man who made me well said to me, ‘Pick up your mat and walk.’ ”
12 So they asked him, “Who is this fellow who told you to pick it up and walk?”
13 The man who was healed had no idea who it was, for Jesus had slipped away into the crowd that was there.
14 Later Jesus found him at the temple and said to him, “See, you are well again. Stop sinning or something worse may happen to you.” 15 The man went away and told the Jewish leaders that it was Jesus who had made him well.
The Authority of the Son
16 So, because Jesus was doing these things on the Sabbath, the Jewish leaders began to persecute him. 17 In his defense Jesus said to them, “My Father is always at his work to this very day, and I too am working.” 18 For this reason they tried all the more to kill him; not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God.
19 Jesus gave them this answer: “Very truly I tell you, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does. 20 For the Father loves the Son and shows him all he does. Yes, and he will show him even greater works than these, so that you will be amazed. 21 For just as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, even so the Son gives life to whom he is pleased to give it. 22 Moreover, the Father judges no one, but has entrusted all judgment to the Son, 23 that all may honor the Son just as they honor the Father. Whoever does not honor the Son does not honor the Father, who sent him.
24 “Very truly I tell you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be judged but has crossed over from death to life. 25 Very truly I tell you, a time is coming and has now come when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God and those who hear will live. 26 For as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son also to have life in himself. 27 And he has given him authority to judge because he is the Son of Man.
28 “Do not be amazed at this, for a time is coming when all who are in their graves will hear his voice 29 and come out—those who have done what is good will rise to live, and those who have done what is evil will rise to be condemned. 30 By myself I can do nothing; I judge only as I hear, and my judgment is just, for I seek not to please myself but him who sent me.
Testimonies About Jesus
31 “If I testify about myself, my testimony is not true. 32 There is another who testifies in my favor, and I know that his testimony about me is true.
33 “You have sent to John and he has testified to the truth.34 Not that I accept human testimony; but I mention it that you may be saved. 35 John was a lamp that burned and gave light, and you chose for a time to enjoy his light.
36 “I have testimony weightier than that of John. For the works that the Father has given me to finish—the very works that I am doing—testify that the Father has sent me. 37 And the Father who sent me has himself testified concerning me. You have never heard his voice nor seen his form, 38 nor does his word dwell in you, for you do not believe the one he sent. 39 You study the Scriptures diligently because you think that in them you have eternal life. These are the very Scriptures that testify about me, 40 yet you refuse to come to me to have life.
41 “I do not accept glory from human beings, 42 but I know you. I know that you do not have the love of God in your hearts. 43 I have come in my Father’s name, and you do not accept me; but if someone else comes in his own name, you will accept him. 44 How can you believe since you accept glory from one another but do not seek the glory that comes from the only God?
45 “But do not think I will accuse you before the Father. Your accuser is Moses, on whom your hopes are set. 46 If you believed Moses, you would believe me, for he wrote about me.47 But since you do not believe what he wrote, how are you going to believe what I say?”
In John we have seen Jesus slowly revealing Himself and His identity to those around Him through the performing of miracles. Now in John 5, Jesus performs yet another miracle when he heals a paralyzed man while in Jerusalem for the feast of the Jews. We read that this miraculous act caused controversy with the Jewish leaders because Jesus was “working” on the Sabbath.
In this act, the leaders saw both a miraculous healing and a broken rule. However, they threw the miracle aside and focused on what was more important to them: the way they thought things were supposed to work. Even though the Jewish leaders had proof before their very eyes of God’s power and healing, their views and long-held ideas of how things should work—how they expected things to work—prevented them from seeing the truth.
Those leaders weren’t the only ones who couldn’t see the truth. Verse three tells us that a “great number” of disabled people were laying by the pool, hoping to be the first in the water for healing. They were expectant of healing, but only by means that were familiar—and in these expectations they also missed the Truth. As Charles Spurgeon put it: “A blindness had come over these people at the pool; they were there, and there was Christ who could heal them, but not a single one of them sought Him. Their eyes were fixed on the water, expecting it to be troubled; they were so taken up with their own chosen way that the true way was neglected.”
If we are honest, that is probably true of us today. We are so taken up with how things should work, or how we expect them to work, that we easily miss the One who “makes all things work.” We can get so caught up in waiting for Jesus to work in the way we expect, that we miss Him completely—just like the Jewish leaders and those at the pool. Maybe we are waiting on a more convenient time, an easier way, a clearer word, or a familiar sign. We forget that from the very beginning, Jesus’s story is one that continually upends all expectations. In this season of celebrating the miracle of all miracles, let us not get so relaxed, so caught up in our chosen way, that we neglect the True Way who is standing in our midst wanting to know us personally and waiting to perform the very miracle we seek.
- What expectations or rules have you set for how Jesus will work in your life?
- How can you identify and let go of your “chosen way” so that you don’t miss out on the True Way?
- What miracles do you want or need Jesus to work in your life and have you asked Him to move in ways that you could never expect?
Did You Know?
This pool that’s mentioned was not far from the temple in Jerusalem. That fact, combined with the fact that it was time for a Jewish festival, means there was likely a large crowd nearby when Jesus healed this man. Knowing how many times Jesus engaged the religious leaders regarding the Sabbath, it’s logical to think Jesus was trying to prove a point here.