The Healing at Bethesda
Text: John 5:1-18
I. Jesus returns to Jerusalem for another feast.
A. It is not specified, but most believe that John is referring to the Passover feast, making this the mark of the second year of Jesus’ ministry.
1. This is because in John 4:35, Jesus mentioned the harvest was in four months and the Passover would be the next feast, just prior to the harvest.
B. The location of the event is the pool of Bethesda (literally, house of mercy)
1. The pool had an odd reputation. At certain seasons, an angel would stir up the waters of the pool and whoever first entered the water was instantly healed of his disease.
2. It was not a frequent event.
3. Some try to explain it away by saying that there was some healing property in the water, perhaps because sacrifices where washed in this pool.
a. This contradicts the statements
b. The healing only came to the first who entered the pool
c. The healing was instantaneous.
C. Obviously, this was a popular gathering place for the sick.
II. One among the many was a man who had been ill for 38 years. We don’t know the nature of his disease, but it prevented him from reaching the pool quickly and its healing involved his walking.
A. Jesus saw him and knew how long he had suffered.
1. The length of his suffering testifies that it was real and verifiable that the man was ill.
2. Jesus asks him if he would like to become well
B. The man replies that he would need help to reach the pool before someone else entered before him.
C. Jesus told him to take up his pallet and walk
1. Notice there is not mention of faith on this man’s part.
2. He did not know who Jesus was or why Jesus would tell him to take his pallet and walk
3. In fact, notice that the man was healed before he stood up.
4. Even after he was healed, he did not know who had healed him.
III. Jesus obviously did this miracle to make a point as many others were there who were ill, yet no mention is made of their being healed.
A. It just happened that the day was the Sabbath and by Jewish custom a person could not carry anything on the day of rest
1. Jeremiah 17:21-22 - Does say that nothing was to be carried on the Sabbath
2. But notice that verse 26 talks of carrying sacrifices into the city on the Sabbath
B. There are two flaws with this reasoning
1. One, carrying a rolled-up blanket is not carrying a load as the law stated.
a. It wasn’t engaging in commerce
b. It wasn’t as if he was doing work that could have been done ahead or delayed for the Sabbath
2. The second problem was that the carrying of the pallet demonstrated the healing the man received from God.
a. It gave glory to God, but these only looked for a violation of law.
3. The third is that this man was told by a man of God, an obvious prophet, to carry his pallet.
a. Would it make sense to object to a command from God’s servant?
IV. The man finds Jesus at the Temple
A. Having been healed by the mercy of God, he goes to God to give thanks.
B. Jesus tells the man to sin no longer
1. He is not referring to the carrying of the pallet, but deeper past sins
2. It showed that Jesus was all-knowing, like the woman at the well.
3. It gave the man a clue that the one who healed him was the Messiah
C. Jesus warns that if he doesn’t leave the sins worse would happen in the future
1. It showed that Jesus was knowledgeable of the future.
D. The man understood then that he was healed by the Messiah and told the ones accusing him who had healed him.
V. Instead of recognizing that the healing was proof of God being with Jesus, they became angry that Jesus was advocating a breaking of the Sabbath (in their mind).
A. Jesus’ answer that he and his Father had work to do
1. He is reminding them that the healing came from God
B. All the Jews heard was Jesus admitting to working on the Sabbath
1. “Healing” is the work of a prophet and no man should work on the Sabbath.
2. More on this later.
C. They also understood that Jesus, by calling God his father, was claiming deity.
1. Again, we will speak more on this later.
D. Instead of glorifying God for the miracle done through His servant Jesus, they sought to kill Jesus.