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 or NIV).
First of all I think it is important to see the political intrigue of this passage. Jesus healed on the Sabbath, the most sacred and Holy day for the Jewish people. Doing any work on the Sabbath was not allowed…period! Jesus knew that work on the Sabbath was forbidden, of course He knew, so why did He continue to challenge this law? Could it possibly be because it was a law placed by man upon the Sabbath as a restriction and not a law placed by God? I think that is the reason Jesus continued to push the limits of the local law! There is something else as well.
Notice how the Jewish leaders asked the man who was healed who had healed him? The man didn’t know, did he? Not until Jesus met him later in the temple and spoke to him. Why is this important to the story? I believe that it is important because when Jesus made the man walk the man lost his livelihood. He was a beggar that probably made his living by playing on people’s sympathy for him. He was a true invalid but he had also found a way to support himself as a beggar, that’s why he was at the pool daily. Jesus knew this too I am sure. So later in the temple when Jesus spoke to the healed man was the man happy to see Jesus? Ummm, well, yes and no. I think the man was happy to walk again but I also think that the man didn’t like what Jesus said to him. Notice that Jesus told the man to stop sinning or else worse things would happen to him. What could be worse than not being able to walk? Hmmm! In other words Jesus threatened the man and how did the man respond? Well he didn’t say thanks and I will stop sinning. No, he went straight to the leaders of the Jews and told them Jesus was the one who healed him and made him well. I don’t think this was out of kindness and thanksgiving on the healed man’s part near as much as it was revenge for what Jesus told him, to stop sinning or else! Is this applicable to our life today? I think so. When Jesus tells us to stop sinning He means it! How we react to that piece of information is crucial. I hope that I react positively and heed the warning and not negatively as the man in this story did! Let’s move on.
So, because Jesus was doing these things on the Sabbath, the Jewish leaders began to persecute him. In his defense Jesus said to them, “My Father is always at his work to this very day, and I too am working.” For this reason they tried all the more to kill him; not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God. John 5:16-18, (NIV).
Why would the Jewish leaders persecute Jesus for healing an invalid man on the Sabbath? I believe it all comes down to jealousy and fear of losing control over the temple offices. If a simply carpenter from no-where’s-ville starts healing people and gets a big following then the temple would lose money and power. So the Jewish temple leaders try to discipline Jesus and notice how they begin with verbal persecution. They were trying to bully Jesus into submission and silence but Jesus didn’t budge one bit. Jesus answered them with a very simply remark. Jesus was doing the will of His Father, and let them know that He was God’s Son doing God’s work just as His Father was working on the Sabbath so Jesus was working on the Sabbath. The healing came through Jesus from God to the man and had God not wanted the man healed the man would not be healed! Jesus power came from His Father, God. Could Jesus without God’s power been able to heal the man? I don’t believe so because Jesus is such a part of God that the two can’t work without each other, the two must be in agreement in order for miracles of healing or anything else to be accomplished.
Is this important for us to understand today, in the here and now? I believe that it is. We need to understand that as a follower of Christ, as a Christian, we are also doing the will of God the Father just as Jesus does the will of His Father. We can’t be a follower of just God or of just Jesus, no! We are followers of both because the Father is a part of the Son and the Son is part of the Father! The will of God is being carried out by the Son of God, Jesus Christ, (John 6:38). I just love that! How do I know this? Read on.
Jesus gave them this answer: “Very truly I tell you, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does. For the Father loves the Son and shows him all he does. Yes, and he will show him even greater works than these, so that you will be amazed. For just as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, even so the Son gives life to whom he is pleased to give it. Moreover, the Father judges no one, but has entrusted all judgment to the Son, that all may honor the Son just as they honor the Father. Whoever does not honor the Son does not honor the Father, who sent him. John 5:19-23, (NIV).
There it is; do you see it? Jesus explains to the Jewish leaders and to us today that there is nothing Jesus does without the Father’s knowledge and permission. They work together, toward one common goal, and in this case it was that an invalid man was healed. Jesus tells the Jewish leaders that bigger miracles were coming and to stay tuned boys! Wow! He also warned the Jewish leaders and I believe it is fair to say that the warning is for us today as well. The last sentence Jesus speaks states that if you don’t honor the Son, then you are not honoring the Father. This must have enraged the rule makers! There’s more.
“Very truly I tell you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be judged but has crossed over from death to life. Very truly I tell you, a time is coming and has now come when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God and those who hear will live. For as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son also to have life in himself. And he has given him authority to judge because he is the Son of Man.
“Do not be amazed at this, for a time is coming when all who are in their graves will hear his voice and come out—those who have done what is good will rise to live, and those who have done what is evil will rise to be condemned. By myself I can do nothing; I judge only as I hear, and my judgment is just, for I seek not to please myself but him who sent me. John 5:24-30, (NIV).
Jesus speaks very clearly here to the Jewish leaders who first heard this and to us today. Jesus is to be believed and Jesus will judge the world. When Jesus judges the world He will be doing so with God the Father’s permission and blessing. Where did Jesus get the authority to be the judge of this world? From God! Jesus is being proclaimed to the nations today, in other words the dead, the ones who don’t know who Christ is, are hearing the Gospel, the good news, and will either believe in Him and pass over to eternal life or reject Him and remain dead! There is no middle ground, no holy saint, no prophet to come…only Jesus who was, who is, and who is to come, (Revelation 1:8)!
I love that Jesus says not to be amazed at all this because truthfully I am amazed! I am blown away that Jesus would come and be born a human and go through all that He did just for my opportunity to be saved from hell. I am amazed that Jesus is so patient with so many of us. I am amazed that Jesus left us a guide on how to live out our lives for Him, (2 Timothy 3:16). I am amazed that the Holy Spirit resides in me as the Comforter sent here by Jesus from the Father, (John 14:16 & John 16:7)! I am amazed. I am awed. I am forever thankful, aren’t you?