Jesus Heals on the Sabbath
AUGUST 16 - Nº 228 John 5:1-18
The Pharisees and teachers of the Law had to decide whether Jesus was the Deliverer God had promised to send. His teachings and miracles amazed them, but his actions appalled them. He certainly didn’t behave the way they expected him to. “The Messiah would never hang out with tax collectors and sinners!” they thought (see #227 - August 15). They began to look for ways to discredit him—and it didn’t take long for them to find some. Jesus was in Jerusalem for one of the required feasts. There were several gates in the wall that surrounded and protected the city. One of them was called the Sheep Gate. It was the entrance for all the sheep that would be sacrificed at the Temple. Near it, on the inside of the wall, there was a large pool called the Pool of Bethesda. It had five covered walkways surrounding it. It was where the Jewish pilgrims took ritual cleansing baths before they entered the Temple courtyard. It was also a place where many disabled people hung out hoping to be healed. It was believed that an angel would appear during the feast and stir up the water. Then whoever stepped in first would be healed. So, the blind, lame, and paralyzed were brought to lie beside it every day. When Jesus walked by this pool, a man who had been an invalid for 38 years was lying there. Noticing him, Jesus asked, “Do you want to get well?” “Sir,” the man replied, “I don’t have anyone to help me get into the pool when the water is stirred. While I am trying to get in, someone else goes ahead of me.” Jesus looked at him and said, “Get up! Pick up your mat and walk.” The man was instantly and completely healed! He picked up his mat and walked away! This took place on the Sabbath day! As he was walking down the street near the pool, some religious Jews spotted the man carrying his mat. This was a flagrant violation of their Sabbath regulations. They confronted him, but he replied, “The man who made me well told me to pick it up and walk, so I did!” They immediately wanted to know who had instructed him to violate the Sabbath. But the man had no idea, and by then Jesus was nowhere to be seen. Although Jesus had demonstrated concern for the man’s physical health, he was far more concerned with his spiritual condition. So, he looked for him and found him at the Temple—a place the man had been forbidden from entering for 38 years due to his ailment. “Don’t sin any more or something worse may happen to you,” Jesus instructed him. The man suddenly realized who he was talking to. He went straight to the Jewish leaders and informed them that it was Jesus who had made him well. Jesus had not broken any of God’s Laws when he healed the man on the Sabbath. However, he had violated a Pharisaic tradition. Then he had instructed the man to carry his mat—another infraction of their Sabbath regulations! The leaders felt these were grounds for prosecution. Jesus defended himself by saying, “My Father is always at work—even right now on the Sabbath! And I am working too.” The Jewish leaders felt that they now had a reason to put him to death! Not only had he broken what they considered to be God’s Laws, he had committed blasphemy by claiming to be God’s son!
Jesus didn’t just heal the paralyzed man to make him well. Jesus wanted to make him whole! He wanted him to turn away from his sins and begin an eternal relationship with God. When we help people, this should be our ultimate goal as well. Anything else we have to offer is only a temporary fix.