Text–After this there was a feast of the Jews, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. Now there is in Jerusalem by the Sheep Gate a pool, in Aramaic called Bethesda, which has five roofed colonnades. In these lay a multitude of invalids—blind, lame, and paralyzed. One man was there who had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him lying there and knew that he had already been there a long time, he said to him, “Do you want to be healed?” The sick man answered him, “Sir, I have no one to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up, and while I am going another steps down before me.” Jesus said to him, “Get up, take up your bed, and walk.” And at once the man was healed, and he took up his bed and walked. Now that day was the Sabbath. (John 5:1-9)
Summary–Here we read John’s third account of a miracle by Jesus during his earthly ministry. Remember that John doesn’t write a full biography of Jesus. That would simply not be possible. He tells that the whole world could not contain the books if everything had been recorded. Rather, John writes to confirm that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God. The miracle of the healing of the man at Bethzatha shows us two aspects about Jesus that are important. First, this miracle highlights the love of Jesus in his humanity. He came to save the weak and the suffering. Those waiting at the pool near the sheep gate in Jerusalem were described as blind, lame and paralyzed. They could not heal themselves and were getting no help from the world around them. They needed a savior to heal them. Second, this miracle shows us the power of Jesus in his divinity. This miracle validates Christ as the Son of God who cares and heals the sick. Jesus being fully human in his compassion and fully divine in his power intersects at this miracle to tell each of us that apart from him, we are equally lost and without hope, like the beggar at the well.
Insight–The beggar at the well is a pitiful sight. He is surrounded by others equally pitiful and without hope. Maybe you think that this picture at the well is sad but not relevant to your circumstance. After all, you can see the world around you. You can run with your friends. You can feel pleasure and pain; your not paralyzed at all. Friend, you must realize that apart of the saving work of Jesus Christ, you too would be blind, lame and paralyzed. The beggar represents the whole human race apart from Christ and his righteousness freely offered to you through grace by faith alone. How does God see people before he saves us? Romans 5:6 tells us that it was when we were “powerless”, Christ died for the ungodly. Powerless here means, “infirm, feeble, unable to achieve anything great, destitute of power among men, sluggish in doing right.” In other words, God tells us that when we could not do a thing for ourselves spiritually, Christ died for us. Before Christ called you to himself, you too were blind. Jesus said this to Nicodemus in John Chapter 3 when he said, “no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again. Before God saved you, you were lame. In Matthew 9 we read of the paralytic man who could not come on his own to be healed. Finally, Romans 7:18 explains that you are paralyzed. “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him.” But take hope, it is at the time of your greatest weakness that Christ came to save you. He came to save the blind, the lame and the paralyzed. He came to find you. Will you argue that you are not helpless, that you are able to come before God on your own and be judged righteous? There will be only one verdict apart from trusting in Christ for your salvation. Know that your sins have been dealt with in Christ and that he gives you new life when you put your trust in him. What a glorious God we serve!
Catechism–(Q) Who did Christ come to save? (A) The blind, the lame and the paralyzed.
Discussion–Who is suffering in your neighborhood that you need to share this message of joy with? Can you think of anyone who needs to be picked up and carried into the water of salvation?
Prayer–Father God we magnify your glorious son who you sent to save us from our hopelessness. Lord, open our eyes to your beauty. Give us new hearts to live in a manner worthy of your calling which you have called us. We praise you, Father, in the name of your son, Jesus Christ, by the enabling power of the Holy Spirit, one God world without end. Amen
Contributed by Michael Fenimore