This week we are going to study John 5:1-9, so let’s read the passage, “After this there was a feast of the Jews, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. Now there is in Jerusalem by the Sheep Gate a pool, in Aramaic called Bethesda, which has five roofed colonnades. In these lay a multitude of invalids—blind, lame, and paralyzed. One man was there who had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. 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?” 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.” Jesus said to him, “Get up, take up your bed, and walk.” And at once the man was healed, and he took up his bed and walked. Now that day was the Sabbath.”
When it Happened
The miracle in John 5:1-9 is not recorded in any of the other gospels. The synoptic gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke) mostly focused on the miracles in Galilee, whereas this miracle occurred in Jerusalem. This miracle happened during one of the three feasts where the Jews would go to Jerusalem to worship God. This may have been one of the miracles that John talked about in John 2:23-25, but it could have been at another feast when this occurred as Jesus observed at least nine feasts during His public ministry. John does not tell us which feast it was, this makes me think it may not have been the Passover, because he had already mentioned it and the Passover was also recorded in other places in the book of John.
The Pool of Bethesda
The location for this miracle is interesting, because the pool of Bethesda was only mentioned in a few documents from this time frame. Some think that the pool may have been used for ceremonial cleansing, but we do not know that for sure. We do know that the pool of Bethesda was by the sheep gate and that it had five roofed colonnades, which were likely used for undressing at some point, but at that time it was used by the sick to wait for the water to be stirred by an angel, so they could be healed. Bethesda means house of mercy, which describes what happened at the pool seeing as God’s mercy was shown to the sick. Many have surmised about the origin of this pool’s healing ability, while others have tried to explain it scientifically. There are some good scientific theories, except for the fact that the diseases mentioned defy the scientific theories. Most scholars agree these healings were something supernatural. Some think that a priest blessed the pool when Jerusalem was rebuilt, others think that it started when Jesus was conceived, others at His baptism, or when an earthquake occurred, either way the pool had supernatural healing power.
Come to the Living Water
We see that Jesus went to the pool with a specific purpose, to heal one of the invalids, who had been there for a long time. This man had been an invalid for thirty-eight years, which was longer than many lived back then. We do not know how long he had laid at the pool of Bethesda. Many have surmised about his illness, and think he had withered limbs. We see that Jesus’ first words to the man are, “do you want to be healed?” These are the same words He is asking you today. Because we are all spiritually ill and if we die without Him, we will be separated from Jesus forever. But, there is a cure that heals all spiritual diseases and takes away the penalty for your sins (Romans 3:23, 6:23). This cure is not something that anyone else can accept for you. It is a gift that you have to accept for yourself and it only comes through Jesus. And unlike the pool of Bethesda, the healing is not just for the first, but for anyone who comes to Him. So today, do not wait or make excuses, just come to the Living Water and have eternal life. So, if you would like to accept Jesus as your Lord and Savior, all you have to do is to admit that you are a sinner, repent of your sins, believe that Jesus died on the cross for your sins and God raised Him from the dead, then confess Him as Lord and Savior of your life (Romans 10:9).
When Jesus asked the man if he wanted to be healed, the man made excuses as to why he had not been healed. He said it was not from the lack of effort or trying, but because he lacked someone to help him into the water. He seems to not be able to think of any other way to be healed, except for the pool. The man then goes on to say that when the water is stirred up while he is going another steps down in front of him. We see that Jesus does not seem to rebuke his excuses, but sees the man’s desire to be healed. Jesus then tells him to get up and take up his bed and walk and so he does and at once he was healed. The man may have believed enough to get up, but it was Jesus who healed him, not him moving. This is the same with salvation, we accept, but we are not the one who redeems ourselves.
One passage that I think is good to be reminded of when looking at John 5:1-9 is Matthew 25:37-40 “Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’” We see that Jesus led by example in everything He did. He went and visited the sick, like He did in this passage. We should do the same today and this week, we should follow His example by feeding the hungry, helping those in need, visiting the sick and also visiting the imprisoned. Remember that Jesus says that as you do to the least of these, you did it unto Him. Also, this week, know that just like the man at the pool you can be healed, forgiven, and redeemed from your sins, but instead of going to the pool of Bethesda to be healed, go to the river of Living Water who is Jesus.