John 5 The Message (MSG) Even on the Sabbath
1-6 Soon another Feast came around and Jesus was back in Jerusalem. Near the Sheep Gate in Jerusalem there was a pool, in Hebrew called Bethesda, with five alcoves. Hundreds of sick people—blind, crippled, paralyzed—were in these alcoves. One man had been an invalid there for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him stretched out by the pool and knew how long he had been there, he said, “Do you want to get well?”
7 The sick man said, “Sir, when the water is stirred, I don’t have anybody to put me in the pool. By the time I get there, somebody else is already in.”
8-9 Jesus said, “Get up, take your bedroll, start walking.” The man was healed on the spot. He picked up his bedroll and walked off.
9-10 That day happened to be the Sabbath. The Jews stopped the healed man and said, “It’s the Sabbath. You can’t carry your bedroll around. It’s against the rules.”
11 But he told them, “The man who made me well told me to. He said, ‘Take your bedroll and start walking.’”
12-13 They asked, “Who gave you the order to take it up and start walking?” But the healed man didn’t know, for Jesus had slipped away into the crowd.
14 A little later Jesus found him in the Temple and said, “You look wonderful! You’re well! Don’t return to a sinning life or something worse might happen.”
15-16 The man went back and told the Jews that it was Jesus who had made him well. That is why the Jews were out to get Jesus—because he did this kind of thing on the Sabbath.
17 But Jesus defended himself. “My Father is working straight through, even on the Sabbath. So am I.”
18 That really set them off. The Jews were now not only out to expose him; they were out to kill him. Not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was calling God his own Father, putting himself on a level with God.
1) In an area with hundreds of sick people, why do you think Jesus selected out one in particular? Is it okay to be selective in who we help? How so?
2) What is the significance of the question, "Do you want to get well?"? Do you think everyone wants to be well? Why aren't all well?
3) What was the man's excuse for not getting healed? Do we make similar excuses today? How do we override these excuses to see people made well?
4) How did Jesus follow up with the man in the Temple? How should we follow up with others today?
5) How do we discern whether we should break a tradition or respect a tradition?
Hundreds of sick people surrounded the pool called Bethesda. They were waiting for an angel to stir the waters of the pool because the first one who entered after that would be healed. Perhaps Jesus interacted with multiple people, but we only have one interaction on record, and that with an invalid of 38 years. Surprisingly, Jesus asked the man if he wants to be well.
Not only was the man an invalid for many decades, he was waiting beside the pool so he could get in the water first and be healed. But did he really want to be made well? The man's answers conveyed the impression that he just couldn't be healed. He didn't have the capability and no one was there to help him. But God was there, and Jesus was asking him just the right question.
Jesus told the man to pick up his bedroll and start walking, defying the man's own limitations. The man obeyed, obviously believing it was possible in that moment, and he was healed. The man did not need someone else to help him in the pool or to wait for an angel from heaven to stir the waters. He just needed to believe God wanted him well and that he could receive his healing through the healer - Jesus Christ.
That is not always the end of the story. Some people get healed only to end up with a worse sickness later on. Jesus gave a warning to the man. Don't go back to a sinning life or something worse might happen. We must continue to live holy lives, continue to fight for the promises of God and continue to believe we have received through faith. There is not a guarantee that we will be free from all sickness our whole life unless we stay strong in our faith in God the healer.
Some of the Jews were not pleased that Jesus healed the man on the Sabbath, breaking their traditions. Jesus knew he was breaking their traditions, but he believed it was still right to heal on the Sabbath. This greater value trumped the lesser traditions. There are many traditions in our culture and it takes wisdom and understanding to know when these traditions are getting in the way of godly values. The scriptures give us the wisdom to discern which choices to make in each situation.