The narrative of the Gospel of John is centered around signs. The word “sign” means a miracle with a message, it points to something other than itself. The miracles are not only about Jesus’ power, but they are also about His redemptive plan for mankind.
John 5 says, “After this, a Jewish festival took place, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. By the Sheep Gate in Jerusalem there is a pool, called Bethesda in Aramaic, which has five colonnades. Within these lay a large number of the disabled—blind, lame, and paralyzed.”
Jesus ministers to the down and out. The pool of Bethesda is a picture of a good gospel preaching church. A church is a hospital for the hurt, awaiting healing.
Verse 5 says, “One man was there who had been disabled for thirty-eight years.”
The CSB translates the man’s condition as disabled. “Invalid” is the best word to describe that man’s situation. The word invalid means without significance, without worth. That is the way culture saw him; however, that is not how Jesus saw him.
Why do bad things happen to good people?
- The world is broken
Romans 5:12 says, “Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, in this way death spread to all people, because all sinned.” Creation is broken. God looked on His world after creation and said it is good. However, sin happened. The day is coming when Jesus will fix this broken world.
- Demonic attack
When it comes to spiritual warfare, we need to avoid extremes. One extreme is dismissing spiritual warfare altogether. The other is being overly obsessed with it. Spiritual warfare is real, but it is probably not every problem in your life.
- Consequences of sin
- Other people’s sin
Verse 6 says, “When Jesus saw him lying there and realized he had already been there a long time, he said to him, “Do you want to get well?”
In other words, the question is “Do you want to be healed?”
The word “healed” means “to be made whole.” Jesus is not asking him to just fix a part of his body, the Lord wants to make him whole. Jesus is asking him, “Do you want to change?”
We do not like problems, we do not like the feeling of being helpless. However, we do not like change even more. We like the brokenness we do know more than the change we do not know.
“Sir,” the disabled man answered, “I have no one to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up, but while I’m coming, someone goes down ahead of me.” “Get up,” Jesus told him, “Pick up your mat and walk.”
He starts making excuses, so Jesus gives him three commands: “Get up, pick up your mat, and walk.”
God heals in different ways. Sometimes it is a process, through means of common grace like going to physical therapy or seeing a counselor, it takes time. Sometimes it is not a process, it is more like “get up, pick up your bed and walk.”
Why does Jesus ask him to pick up his mat? The mat represented his past, Jesus is telling him to not be ashamed of his past because He has been forgiven. Jesus is commanding him to leave his past, to not romanticize it, but to continue moving forward by the grace of God.
Romans 8:1 says, “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus.”
The Jews could not see past the rules and tradition and glorify God for the miracle in this man’s life.
“He replied, “The man who made me well told me, ‘Pick up your mat and walk.’” “Who is this man who told you, ‘Pick up your mat and walk’?” they asked. But the man who was healed did not know who it was, because Jesus had slipped away into the crowd that was there. After this, Jesus found him in the temple and said to him, “See, you are well. Do not sin anymore, so that something worse doesn’t happen to you.”
Jesus does not make it clear if the man was disabled because of sin in his life; however, the Lord makes clear that he needed a miracle in his life: redemption. There is only one miracle that Jesus will answer every time, that miracle is healing a sinner’s soul, salvation.
Pastor Chris Williams
To learn more about Pastor Chris and his teaching, visit us on the web at fcfamily.org and make sure you subscribe to receive these weekly encouragements in your inbox.