The healing of the ‘impotent’ man at the pool of Bethesda.
Study No 10 – John Chapter 5
A bit of review:
We began with seeing Jesus at the Jordon with John the Baptist. He chooses several disciples and walks north to Cana. After the miracle at the wedding he goes to Jerusalem for the Passover, cleanses the temple, is approached by Nicodemus at night, travels north and ‘baptizes’ for several months, goes further north through Samaria, bringing a woman and many others to saving faith. He then continues north to Cana and from there heals the nobleman’s son. Now it is time for another Passover so Jesus returns south to Jerusalem.
Setting. A feast of the Jews. Most bible commentators think this is another Passover.
The miracle healings at the pool of Bethesda contain peculiarities compared to other miracles about which we read.
1. Performed by an angel.
2. At undetermined times.
3. By stirring up or troubling the water.
4. Available to one patient until the next time the waters are stirred,
5. Good for all ailments alike: sick people, blind, lame, paralyzed.
5. Available to the patient who first stepped in after the troubling of the waters.
Because of its unusual circumstances and because none of the Jewish historians of the time make any mention at all of the healing pool, and because some of the earliest manuscripts leave out verse 4, some commentators have taught that no angel came at all and the water therefore, was never ‘stirred up’. They surmise that it was a natural spring and seemed to have healing properties.
The problem with this is that only one got healed … the first one into the pool. (Unless we are to understand the whole thing was a hoax and since there was no real evidence that even the first one got healed, and it became a rumour perpetuated by the ones who remained there day after day. They had ‘stories’ of ones who had been healed.)
Another problem with this theory is that the particular invalid who Jesus speaks to here refers to the stirring of the waters and to those whom he saw step in before him.
Our first imperative is to take the Word of God literally. If something is meant to be taken in a figurative sense, the context will bear it out.
We will be left, no doubt with a big question mark (or several of them) in relation to this account.
Why would God (or an angel) arrange for a series of miracles to occur in this manner?
And when do we read in scripture anywhere that God has commissioned his angels to have their own healing ministries?
We must accept the fact that Gods ways may be very different from ours.
Isa 55:8 For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, says the LORD.
9 For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.
Though this ‘miracle event’ may be a little difficult to understand, it does not stand alone in scripture as being something highly irregular. For example:
John 9:6 When He had said these things, He spat on the ground and made clay with the saliva; and He anointed the eyes of the blind man with the clay.
Mr 7:33 And He took him aside from the multitude, and put His fingers in his ears, and He spat and touched his tongue.
Discussion questions: Does God have the power to heal all the diseases in the world … at once? Jesus had the power to heal the nobleman’s son by ‘remote’ (or at a distance), did He do that repeatedly and often? Why or why not?
In verse 6, Jesus asks a question. "Do you want to be made well?"
Why do you think He found it necessary to ask this?
1. To focus attention upon Himself.
2. To cause the man to re-sense his own helplessness
3. To create in his heart a spark of hope for a cure.
Notice the man’s response.
1. He speaks of his hopeless situation ( I have no one to help)
2. He keeps trying (but it is no use.)
Jesus’ instructions: 8-17
A. “Rise, take up your bed and walk.”
1. This instruction is designed to illustrate to anyone observing, the completeness of the cure
2. And this instruction is designed to raise opposition with ‘the Jews’.
(a) this man is carrying a bed on the Sabbath
(b) Jesus healed on the Sabbath.
B. “Sin no more lest a worse thing come upon you.”
*It may have been a carelessly lived life that brought this on him in the first place.
* Now the man knows the name of the One who healed him, and he can now pass it on to ‘the Jews’
“The Jews” charge Jesus with working on the Sabbath day. In verse 17 Jesus ‘answers’ the charge. Their response? They want to kill Him! From verses 18 to 47 Jesus lays some extremely crucial information on them. It would appear that the Jews rejected all of it, but we can learn a lot about the relationship of Jesus to the Father.