The text for this lesson is John 5:1–15.
- Jesus is the focus of our faith, the One who brings healing not only to the body but also from sin and death.
- Law: Without Jesus, we all are crippled in sin, unable to restore ourselves.
- Gospel: Through Jesus, the disease of sin is taken away and we are granted eternal life.
- Jesus, who was ministering mostly in Galilee, goes to Jerusalem for a feast. The particular feast is not mentioned, but it was likely the Feast of Booths. The earlier feasts of the year, Passover and Pentecost, are mentioned or implied in the previous chapters of John. The Feast of Booths commemorated the forty-year wandering of the Israelites in the wilderness and the Lord’s care for them during this time. It suggests spiritually that the Lord cares for us during our sojourn on this earth, protecting us from sin, death, and the devil.
- The Sheep Gate was a small gate into the temple through which sheep for sacrifices would pass after being washed in the Pool of Bethesda. The pool had developed a somewhat mythological reputation for being a place of healing. According to this myth, after an angel stirred the waters, the first person to enter the pool would be healed. Thus, many impaired people loitered by the pool, hoping to take advantage of such a healing opportunity. However, the very name of the pool, Bethesda, means “House of Mercy.” True mercy comes not through myths about angels but from the Lord.
- Jesus asks if the man desires to be healed. This is not to ask the obvious but to draw attention from the pool to Himself. Jesus is suggesting already with His question that He will be the source of healing, not the pool. The man does not understand initially, so Jesus demonstrates that He is the source of healing, commanding the man to get up, take his bed, and walk. Healing comes through the Word of God. Jesus clearly demonstrates that He speaks the Word of God. More than this, as the speaker of the Word of God, Jesus demonstrates that He is God.
- Oblivious to the real importance of the event, the Jews try to burden the man who has just been released from the burden of physical affliction. Rather than allowing him to rejoice in the Gospel, they misapply the Law. Laws against carrying burdens on the Sabbath were made to help people spend the day in worship rather than menial work. By picking up his mat and walking at Jesus’ command, the man is engaging in a kind of worship: he is giving thanks to God for his renewed body, and he is bearing witness to God’s mercy by demonstrating the healing work God has done. This is a good reminder for us, to know that the Law is in place to help us to serve our neighbor. The Law is not to overshadow the joy of God’s healing and forgiveness.
- When Jesus encounters the man a second time, He warns the man not to go on sinning so nothing worse may happen to him. Jesus is not saying the man will become a cripple again or that something worse physically will happen as a punishment for his sin. Actually, the warning not to sin is a warning against unbelief. It is a call to trust in Jesus as the God who saves. If the man does not trust in Jesus, the worst thing possible will happen to him: spiritual affliction and eternal punishment. The call to stop sinning means to believe in Jesus as God and Lord. In Him we trust for forgiveness and lifewhich brings eternal healing.