Gospel of John #31
Today we continue our bible study series with another healing story (John 5:1-16). (See the text, reproduced below, at the end of this post).
The healing miracles of Jesus are prominent in the Gospel of John. They demonstrate that the human person is essentially spiritual and always capable of renovation. An encounter with the living God brings one into dynamic harmony, which results in healing.
Notable in this healing story:
*The man at Bethsaida has been waiting for 38 years for someone to push him into the pool, so that he may be healed.
*Jesus comes and simply commands that he get up and walk and he does so. The pool’s mediation is not necessary.
*The message, here, is that the Christ-power, the life-force, is within oneself and can propel wellness and change, once it is activated. This inherent dynamism within the human being regenerates and heals.
As to the actual plot line of this healing story:
In this passage, the healing miracle, which takes place at the pool in Bethsaida, opens the section of the Gospel in which Jesus’s antagonists (the religious authorities) initiate a plot against him. Because Jesus heals on the Sabbath, and the man healed identifies Jesus as the culprit, the leaders begin to pursue and persecute him.
The story stylistically makes a contrasting pair with John 9. While the healed man in John 5 shows little recognition of Jesus’s stature as holy man — after he is healed–the man in John 9, who is cured of blindness, is willing to speak out on behalf of Jesus, proclaiming him to be the Son of Man (a title which indicates Jesus’s status as appointed by God).
Indeed, the healed man in John 5 –consciously or not– ends up betraying Jesus. This man has committed some sin (v. 15) while the man born blind in John 9 is innocent.
The man at the pool has been sick for 38 years — a number symbolic of Israel’s trials in the wilderness. His lassitude and helplessness are on display, when he complains that nobody is willing to give him a small push into the pool so that he may become well.
Jesus bypasses the healing pool. His own authority — as the fountain of life (see John 4) –surpasses all healing pools.
How does this story speak to us? The message is about fidelity and trustworthiness. Let’s say we are healed and we do receive the life for which we have yearned for a long period. Finally, we are released from captivity. If we go along forward, without blessing and thanking the source of our Life, who liberated us, shall cynicism then cause us to fall back again into a similar plight?
The man’s mind-set lacks perfect faith insofar as he resumes his physical life while compromising his moral life. He betrays Jesus, who has given him life. A healing that does not result in a changed consciousness and a moral renovation may offer a physical extension of life but the true life — in terms of one’s attitude and standing before God – can be unchanged.
“Pick up your mat and walk” : where have you been restored to life?
The Healing at the Pool: John 5: 1-15
5 Some time later, Jesus went up to Jerusalem for one of the Jewish festivals. 2 Now there is in Jerusalem near the Sheep Gate a pool, which in Aramaic is called Bethesda and which is surrounded by five covered colonnades. 3 Here a great number of disabled people used to lie—the blind, the lame, the paralyzed.  5 One who was there had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. 6 When Jesus saw him lying there and learned that he had been in this condition for a long time, he asked him, “Do you want to get well?”
7 “Sir,” the invalid replied, “I have no one to help me into the pool when the water is stirred. While I am trying to get in, someone else goes down ahead of me.”
8 Then Jesus said to him, “Get up! Pick up your mat and walk.” 9 At once the man was cured; he picked up his mat and walked.
The day on which this took place was a Sabbath, 10 and so the Jewish leaders said to the man who had been healed, “It is the Sabbath; the law forbids you to carry your mat.”
11 But he replied, “The man who made me well said to me, ‘Pick up your mat and walk.’ ”
12 So they asked him, “Who is this fellow who told you to pick it up and walk?”
13 The man who was healed had no idea who it was, for Jesus had slipped away into the crowd that was there.
14 Later Jesus found him at the temple and said to him, “See, you are well again. Stop sinning or something worse may happen to you.” 15 The man went away and told the Jewish leaders that it was Jesus who had made him well.
16 So, because Jesus was doing these things on the Sabbath, the Jewish leaders began to persecute him.