We’re not certain which feast Jesus was observing when He comes to Jerusalem (John 5:1ff)…and it is not really important. What is important is that His main purpose is to heal a lame man and use the miracle as the basis for a message to the people. John describes the people at this pool as sick, blind, lame, paralyzed. We come to understand is that this pool has healing qualities, so people would come to this place in order to be healed. He also gives us further information about the pool itself. Some manuscripts leave out the end of verse 3 and all of verse 4, but we would be missing some important information about this pool itself if we did not have it.
Jesus comes up to a man who has been by the pool…not for 38 days, or weeks, but for 38 years! This may very well be the individual who has been there the longest, but we can’t know this for certain. Nevertheless, He asks the man what would seem to be a nonsensical question – “Do you wish to get well?” Now, you would think that the man would respond with an enthusiastic – “Yes, I want to be healed!” Instead, he begins to give excuses. He has been in this sad condition for so long, that his will is as paralyzed as his body. Jesus heals this man through the power of the spoken word…and the way He does it also makes a point. He asks the man to do the very thing that he has been unable to do – get up and walk. The cure is immediate, and there are certainly many people at the pool who witness it.
So, everyone rides off into the sunset and lives happily ever after, right? Not so fast, my friends. This healing takes place on the Sabbath. Could Jesus have come a day earlier, or waited a day? Yes. But, He wants to get the attention of the religious leaders. The Scribes listed 39 tasks that were prohibited on the Sabbath, and carrying a burden was one of them. Instead of rejoicing at the wonderful deliverance of the man, the religious leaders condemn the former lame man for carrying his bed, and therefore, breaking the law. It’s not easy to understand the relationship between this man and Jesus. There is no evidence that he believes in Christ or was converted. In fact, he does not even know who it is that has healed him until Jesus meets him in the temple. It is here that Jesus tells him, “Sin no more that nothing worse befall you.” Jesus’ words indicate that he man’s physical problems are the result of sin. Now, if this wouldn’t save you, what would? Still, the man informs the Jewish leaders that it is Jesus who did these things. Why? Fear, most likely – amazing how that works…and not in a good way.
So, predictably, the Jews turn away from the lame man and focus their attention on and aim their accusations at Jesus. Jesus has challenged their legalistic traditions…and they are calling Him on it. The Jews had taken the Sabbath – God’s gift to man – and had transformed it into a prison house of regulations and restrictions. Jesus makes Himself equal with God by telling the Scribes and Pharisees that He and His Father are working. They instantly recognize this and change their “Sabbath” accusation to “blasphemy,” which is punishable by death…and so it goes.
Know that by doing what is right, there can and will be opposition by some who do not understand or have been hardened in some way. We need to help as Jesus helped, even though there may be persecution for it. We need to continue to be opportunistic in seeking and sharing the Lord with those around us.
British writer George McDonald points out that the end of this passage gives us profound insight into our Lord’s miracles. Jesus did instantly what the Father is always doing slowly. In nature, the Father slowly heals broken bones, but Jesus healed immediately. Nature repeatedly multiplies bread, from sowing to harvest, but Jesus has it multiplied instantly in His own hands. Jesus had tremendous power. By far the most important thing He accomplished, that the Father accomplished through him, was to willingly die on a cross to take away our sins and set us free. Praise be to God! Blessings,