From John 5-6
Jesus heals a man on the Sabbath. The incident raises questions about how people view him and what is appropriate to do on the Sabbath. Many can’t see beyond the fact he commanded the man to walk on the sabbath. They can’t see that Jesus is our healer and God is doing a mighty work through him. What do you focus on when you hear about Jesus?
This post is part of my bible in a year series.
Passage and Comments
As Jesus continues his ministry, he heals more and more people. Unfortunately as he does so he disturbs the sensibilities of some who care more about observing the Sabbath than healing people.
5 After this there was a feast of the Jews, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem.
2 Now there is in Jerusalem by the Sheep Gate a pool, in Aramaic called Bethesda, which has five roofed colonnades. 3 In these lay a multitude of invalids—blind, lame, and paralyzed. 5 One man was there who had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. 6 When Jesus saw him lying there and knew that he had already been there a long time, he said to him, “Do you want to be healed?” (Jn 5.1-6)
The blind, lame and the paralyzed hang out by the pool because they believe the first one in at a certain time will be healed of their illness. Its a superstitious belief.
Jesus can heal people. He goes to where there are many people who want to be healed.
Jesus finds a man who had been invalid for a long time. The duration is there to emphasise the miraculous nature of what Jesus is about to do.
He asks an obvious question, ‘Do you want to be healed?’. An understatement really. Of course he wants to be healed, that’s why he is competing with all the others to get into the pool first.
7 The sick man answered him, “Sir, I have no one to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up, and while I am going another steps down before me.” (Jn 5.7)
The man doesn’t know who Jesus is and the power he has.
Jesus is not asking if he needs help to get into the pool. Jesus can heal himself. So he commands him because he has authority and his very word has power.
8 Jesus said to him, “Get up, take up your bed, and walk.” 9 And at once the man was healed, and he took up his bed and walked. (Jn 5.8-9)
Jesus commands the man and he responds at once.
Did he come to faith there and then get up. The text doesn’t say. Did he voluntarily get up of his own volition, or did his body move by itself? The text doesn’t say. The man takes up his mat and walks. He walks out of the area carrying his mat. A miracle.
Jesus is our healer.
Now that day was the Sabbath. (Jn 5.9)
The man is walking out of the area carrying his mat. Oops. This means trouble for Jesus. But he probably already knew that.
Jesus is Lord of the Sabbath. He understands what people can and can’t do on the Sabbath.
10 So the Jews said to the man who had been healed, “It is the Sabbath, and it is not lawful for you to take up your bed.”
11 But he answered them, “The man who healed me, that man said to me, ‘Take up your bed, and walk.’ ”
12 They asked him, “Who is the man who said to you, ‘Take up your bed and walk’?”
13 Now the man who had been healed did not know who it was, for Jesus had withdrawn, as there was a crowd in the place. (Jn 5.10-13)
The Jews find the healed man carrying his mat. They believe he is sinning by carrying it as he is on the Sabbath. Religious police at their best, they question the man why he is carrying the mat.
He still doesn’t know who Jesus is. But he identifies Jesus as ‘the man who healed me’ and the one who commanded him thus.
The religious authorities seem to ignore the fact the man was healed and focus on the identifying him because he told him to ‘take up the mat and walk’ on the Sabbath. John, the author of this gospel, however gives it attention saying ‘the man who had been healed’.
Do you think Jesus is the one who healed the man or the one who commanded the man to ‘work’ on the Sabbath? What does this mean for what things we value as important?
14 Afterward Jesus found him in the temple and said to him, “See, you are well! Sin no more, that nothing worse may happen to you.” (Jn 5.14)
Jesus told him to walk. It seems he wanted to find him again. Perhaps Jesus was hoping the healed man, walking on the Sabbath would cause a stir.
Jesus says, ‘Sin no more’. It would be logically inconsistent for Jesus to say this if he didn’t think the man could stop sinning. The statement cuts against the grain of standard ‘miserable sinner Christianity’.
Jesus commands the man to stop sinning.
It’s possible for people to stop sinning. I might take this further. Jesus is probably suggesting there are people (the righteous) who are not sinning and haven’t done so for a long while. Praise God.
Jesus says, ‘Sin no more, that nothing worse may happen to you’. Jesus implies the reason why the man was invalid for such a long time was because he sinned in the first instance. What he did we don’t know. But that is why the man was invalid. If he does continue in sin, something worse will happen to him. Worse than being an invalid. A warning against sin.
15 The man went away and told the Jews that it was Jesus who had healed him. 16 And this was why the Jews were persecuting Jesus, because he was doing these things on the Sabbath. (Jn 5.15-16)
The man dobs Jesus in. Perhaps he does so because he wants to improve his social situation. Not very grateful is he?
The Jews in response turn up the heat on Jesus. They believe Jesus is turning people from the law of Moses.
In later discussions and arguments with Jesus he will respond.
17 But Jesus answered them, “My Father is working until now, and I am working.” 18 This was why the Jews were seeking all the more to kill him, because not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God. (Jn 5.17-18)
Jesus identifies his work as the Fathers. Their work is coincident. His healings and teachings are in line with what his Father is doing in the world.
The Jews of course cannot stand this because they do not accept Jesus and do not believe who he is. Jesus is God’s son, he is equal with God.
Jesus has power to heal. The incident with the invalid says that much. We live in a sick world, that needs to be set right. Jesus will do that.
Keep praying for healing.
Jesus didn’t heal people all the time. Healing is not his primary mission. His primary mission was to die on the cross, defeat the powers of this world (sin, death, the devil) and usher in the Kingdom of God.
Thank Jesus for the cross.
Jesus commanded the man to pick up his mat and walk on the Sabbath. What he did was perceived differently by people. His actions invite us to make decisions on what we think is important in life.
As Jesus works so does his Father. We are reminded of the incredible work God was doing in Jesus’ life, death and resurrection.
Copyright © Joshua Washington and thescripturesays, 2015. All Rights Reserved.