The miracles of Jesus: An infirm man at Bethesda

John 5:1-16 HCSB 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 Hebrew, which has five colonnades. 3 Within these lay a large number of the sick—blind, lame, and paralyzed [—waiting for the moving of the water, 4 because an angel would go down into the pool from time to time and stir up the water. Then the first one who got in after the water was stirred up recovered from whatever ailment he had]. 5 One man was there who had been sick for 38 years. 6 When Jesus saw him lying there and knew he had already been there a long time, He said to him, “Do you want to get well?” 7 “Sir,” the sick man answered, “I don’t have a man 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 so the Jews said to the man who had been healed, “This is the Sabbath! It’s illegal for you to pick 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 cured 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 complex and said to him, “See, you are well. Do not sin anymore, so that something worse doesn’t hap-pen 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.

Greek has no word like our English word miracle. Writers have used the word “powers,” “wonders,” and “works,” John often used the word “sign.” Perhaps he felt “signs” pointed from where the power came and to who He was in that same respect.

Unlike the other accounts of “signs” of Jesus, John often traced the steps of those who benefited from the miracles, (John 6:26, John 5:1-15, John 9) The other gospels tended to point to the detractors of the miracles. Many might take issue with verse 4 and in fact many have. What proof do we have of such an event and what has happened to this poo? These and perhaps other thoughts are no bother to our Lord. He only asked “don’t you want to be made well.” Jesus knew only the man has been there a long time and still suffered from his infirmity. His response seemed reasonable to our Lord and He said “Rise, take up your bed and walk.”

While we do not know precisely the circumstances of the pool, we can be sure of the healing of our Lord. John 5:9-10 NKJV And immediately the man was made well, took up his bed, and walked. And that day was the Sabbath. 10 The Jews therefore said to him who was cured, “It is the Sabbath; it is not lawful for you to carry your bed.” Exodus 20:8, Jeremiah 17:21, Nehemiah 13:15. No question is offered as to the miracle itself being suspect. The accusation concerns labor on the sabbath, one Jesus has encountered before in our study. The pallet was integral to the sign. This man has carried his pallet through the streets and was perhaps the only possession he had. Daily he would have been near the pool with his only possession in the hopes of some healing. Everyone who had seen this man all these years would instantly recognize him as the man with is bed. Therefore, it was necessary to the “sign” of his healing he was the man.

Observe, there was not particular belief in Jesus prior to the healing required. Christ addressed the man, He commands him to rise and take up his bed, the man obeys. Here we see the most basic form of obedience. Had he not obeyed as Jesus commanded, he would not have been healed. Not the act of taking his bed, no the very act itself of obeying Jesus has made him whole.

Perhaps, we might see it as ungrateful or at least strange this mans action later. The man, without his bed it would appear returns to the temple to thank God from whom only this blessing could have come. Some, indeed many upon receiving the blessing of the Lord simply go there on way giving little if any thanks for the great gift of salvation. “Jesus found him…” in the temple and told him to sin no more. What specific part, if any, sin played in this mans malady is not readily apparent. Yet we know sin is the root of all evil in this world. The man informs the Jews it was Jesus who made him well and the story becomes not about Jesus and this verifiable sign but His actions on the Sabbath.

While many lessons may be drawn from these few verses at least one must be how we respond to the good blessing of Jesus. Do we accept His good blessings and praise Him all the days of our lives. Or do we simple credit Him and continue our lives as we see fit to only occasionally stop to give tacit credit in superficial worship to the Son of God?

Questions:

  1. What word does John commonly use in reference to the miracles of Jesus?
  2. What Jerusalem landmark did John say the Bethesda pool was near?
  3. What did the people of that day believe about the pool of Bethesda?
  4. The man had been infirm for how long? What did Jesus ask him? What was his reason?
  5. What is your belief concerning the claim of an angel stirring the waters and healing people at random?
  6. What is the appeal for people to resort to superstition or magic to replace obedience to God?
  7. How did the infirm man respond to Jesus sign of healing in the temple?