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The Healing by the Pool of Bethesda Part II

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: 9-15

Observation: What are the passage’s basic facts, such as the meaning of the words? The religious leaders were aware of the paralyzed man who sit by the pool begging for 38 years. Yet, when they saw the men in the temple area, they were more concerned about who healed him on the Sabbath than about the change in his condition. They questioned the man instead of rejoicing for and with the man. They wanted to protect the integrity of the law which forbade any work on the Sabbath. “Carrying a bed (actually a sleeping mat or a bedroll) was, in fact, a violation of the rabbis’ interpretation of the commandment against doing work or business on the Sabbath.” Jesus did not share their misinterpretation and application of the law regarding the Sabbath. Instead, He persistently maintained doing good on the Sabbath was lawful and pleasing to God. He inevitably came into conflict with the religious leaders for not upholding their rigorous interpretation of the law.

The man who had been healed did not know that it was Jesus who healed him. Though the religious leaders wanted him to point out his healer, he could not. This is because Jesus did not seek recognition and accolades for His miracles. The Lord slipped away into the crowd not to be noticed. He avoided the commotion surrounding the man’s healing. Because He did not intend to heal the entire multitude, it was better for Him to withdraw. He wanted the Father to get the glory for everything He did.

Key Words: Jewish leaders, Sabbath, law, temple, stop sinning.

Interpretation: What did the author mean in his historical setting? In verse 14, Jesus saw the man who had been healed and warn to stop sinning or something worse may happen to him. In the Old Testament, sickness and infirmities were related to sin. The rabbis believed “the sick arises not from sickness until his sins are forgiven."

Jesus’ statement went far beyond the rabbinic belief of the relationship between sin and sickness. Jesus knew everything about the man. His statement or warning speaks specifically to the man’s attitude and mindset. Though John does not tell us what the man was doing that made Jesus warn him to stop sinning, we can surmise he was doing something ungodly.

The man that was healed did not appreciate the warning from Jesus as evidenced by the fact he went back to tell the religious leaders it was Jesus who healed him knowing that would get Jesus in trouble with the religious leaders. This says a lot about the man’s character. He was still mentally and spiritually handicapped. Some scholars suggest that it was because the man was so afraid of the religious leader that he went back to identify Jesus as his healer. I disagree with that assessment. I just think the man had a character flaw and could not appreciate the wisdom of the warning from Jesus to stop sinning.

Evaluation: What does this passage mean in today’s culture? We must not put traditions and customs over people’s well-being. Jesus did what was necessary to save the man from his condition. In the same way, we should be willing to do what is necessary to help others find salvation through Jesus Christ. This may mean forgoing our socio-cultural preferences and embracing other people’s cultures, if necessary.

Just as Jesus did not hesitate to warn the man to stop sinning or something worse will happen to him, we must also find the courage to denounce sin and encourage other sinners to repent and return to God. These days, in the name of political correctness, many believers are afraid to denounce sin. Instead, many believers are embracing a culture of tolerance that is often against biblical ethics.

Application: How can I apply what I learned to how I live my life? Many people are paralyzed from a variety of physical or spiritual ailments. We must not allow other people’s customs or traditions to prevent us from doing God’s work by reaching out to these individuals. The gospel of Jesus Christ is life-giving and soul-saving. Everyone should have access to its life-transforming power.

Jesus warned the man He healed to stop sinning or something worse will happen to him. In the same way, we cannot go back to the sins from which the Lord delivered us. Whether it is an addiction or a sinful lifestyle, we should make a complete turnaround and follow the path of godliness so we can maintain a good relationship with the Lord. Moreover, when people warn us of sinful behavior or lifestyle, we should be repentant and not be upset at the individual who warned us.

Prayer- Blessed Lord, please help me to cultivate a repentant spirit so that I will remain in the right relationship with you. May I remain open and accepting of your correction and reproof.

When I am tempted to go astray, please send people to warn me about my sinful ways so I will remain in disobedience to your will.

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