Our reading today is John 5.  As you read, notice how the “event” in verses 1 – 15 lead into the “discourse” in verses 16 – 47.  We will see that pattern quite often in the book of John.  After you finish reading … come back!

Archaeologists have found an underground spring that flowed under the pool, Bethesda, that would occasionally bubble up, stirring up the water in the pool.  The mythology of that time believed that an angel had stirred the waters and the first one to enter the pool after the stirring would be healed.  So we can understand the crowd of disabled and ill people that clustered there. 

A few things to notice about this “sign” …

  • The man had been a paraplegic for 38 years.  38 years!  I suspect he had lost hope.  You can almost feel the despair in his response to Jesus’ question about getting well.  Are you having to carry a burden, a pain, right now?  Has it been a part of your life for a very long time?  Don’t give up on your hope!  Hope is the thing that gives us courage and strength.  Hold on to it … Jesus is our healer … and He is here and He is coming.

  • We watch Jesus choose the least of the least for this miracle.  A forgotten, unclean, pitiful man with no one to help him.  Listen to the words of Gary Burge in his commentary on John: 
    “Among the many at Bethesda looking for healing that day, Jesus selects a man who is a particularly difficult “case”.  He does not reach out to those who are spiritually on the margin but socially “safe.”  Instead, he reaches out to someone whose suffering and isolation are beyond measure.  What implications does this have for where the church “goes” today?  What social risks does John 5 insist that we take?  The same theme could be sounded from John 4 and together with this chapter, a convicting message of vision for ministry could be articulated.” 

    Remember, we ARE the church!

  • You cannot miss the fact that Jesus chose to do this work of healing on the Sabbath.  It was not an accident … it was purposeful.  It was a deliberate violation of the current code of conduct for the Sabbath.  Why? … To illustrate with dramatic clarity how the ‘law’ as interpreted and expanded by the religious leaders and interpreters had itself become a violation of God’s original law.  How exceedingly careful we must be.  How watchful we must stay so that our religious customs and traditions and forms NEVER take a more important place in our lives that do the very words of God! 

The miraculous event of the healing leads Jesus into this discourse. (verses 16 – 47)  No one listening to His words missed the fact that Jesus was equating Himself with God.  No one missed that Jesus was saying He and God were One.  He claims the authority to do the works of God, to give life and to judge.  WOW!  Can you feel the impact on the listeners?  He even goes so far as to tell these Jewish religious leaders that they do not believe Moses!  If they knew and respected Moses, they would believe Jesus, because Moses was pointing forward to Him, to Messiah, to Jesus. 

And the animosity … the hatred … the plots begin in earnest. 

Do you believe what Jesus says?  I am not talking about believing “in” Jesus … I am talking about really believing what He says?  Keep that thought in the back of your mind as we continue on this journey through John. 

His Words are true … and trustworthy.

Lord, give us the courage, through Your Spirit, to hear and believe the things you tell us through Your Word.  And as we believe … to respond in faith … and to do our work in faith … honoring You with every breath.