Jesus changes everything.
One thing we see in Scripture is Jesus never came in contact with someone and left them unchanged. He called people out of sin into His light. He called people to leave their old life and follow Him. He healed people. He performed miracles. He confronted the status quo.
Jesus changes everything.
Based on the events where we were last week, John 5:1-15 occurs “Some time later…” (John 15:1a). We read in John 5:1-15 how Jesus was still changing things:
Some time later, Jesus went up to Jerusalem for one of the Jewish festivals. 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. Here a great number of disabled people used to lie—the blind, the lame, the paralyzed. One who was there had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. 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?”
“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.”
Then Jesus said to him, “Get up! Pick up your mat and walk.” At once the man was cured; he picked up his mat and walked.
The day on which this took place was a Sabbath, 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.”
But he replied, “The man who made me well said to me, ‘Pick up your mat and walk.’ ”
So they asked him, “Who is this fellow who told you to pick it up and walk?”
The man who was healed had no idea who it was, for Jesus had slipped away into the crowd that was there.
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.” The man went away and told the Jewish leaders that it was Jesus who had made him well.John 5:1-15
New International Version
We don’t know which festival this was. Considering it was “some time later” from the events we were just studying, it’s possible this was the Feast of Tabernacles. In reality, it doesn’t matter all that much. The point of the story is not which festival this was. Nevertheless, it grounds Jesus in the culture and history of His day as there were only three occasions Jewish men were required to go to Jerusalem.
As the One who perfectly fulfills the Law, Jesus is found in Jerusalem. On the northeast side of the city was a small entrance called the Sheep Gate. It was near the Temple complex and, as our text indicates, is where many people who were disabled would lie. This pool was a large double pool separated by a bridge. Today, this is near the famous “echo chamber” of the Church of St. Anne. This double pool—then AND now—was surround by five covered porches. This made a perfect place for those with ailments to lie and wait…for mercy, alms, or healing.
This man was healed by the power of the Lord and was told to pick up his bedding and walk.
But the legalists of his day were not having it. Think back to what we learned about the Pharisees along the way so far in John. They were trying to bring clarity where the Law left some flexibility. They took away the flexibility in an attempt to “help.”
It seems they had lost sight of what was important. This man was healed! They should have been happy for him! They should have rejoiced in the power of God. Instead? Cold ritual and legalism caused them to miss the power of the Messiah.
Overstepping the limits imposed by Scripture, the legalists of Jesus’ day had forgotten about the Love of God and only seemed concerned with the Law of God.
When Jesus saw the man later, He teaches us an important lesson. It’s not enough to reach out to people with food, water, and shelter if we never get around to dealing with the issue of eternity.
We’re not really loving them if we stop with physical provision. As disciples of Jesus, we exist because Jesus is our example and every life He came in contact with, He changed.
May we never get so enamored by the Law of God that we forget the love of God. May we always pause to see the miraculous. May we always wonder at the goodness of God in changing our lives. May we always rejoice when the Lord heals someone. Most of all, may we leap with joy when someone’s soul is redeemed by the grace of Jesus.
Stop a minute and see the miracle.
Where is verse 4?
In all likelihood, you have a footnote in your Bible for what would be “verse 4” referring to “some manuscripts including” part or all of the following, “From time to time an angel of the Lord would come down and stir up the waters. The first one into the pool after each such disturbance would be cured of whatever disease they had.”
Space doesn’t permit a lot of discussion on this, but the manuscript evidence for this verse is very, very, very weak. This was an addition very late in the transmission of the book of John—not appearing until the 12th century but it helped explain the legends associated with the pools of Bethesda. In short, the verse was not “taken away” from the Bible; it was added around the 12th century as a piece of commentary on why those who were disabled would lie there and wait for healing.
Healing did not happen this way actually, but there was someone, somewhere, who knew somebody, to which this allegedly happened. They had their urban legends, too. Too bad they didn’t have snopes.com to help. 🙂