Jesus Heals on the Sabbath
August 16 - Nº 228 John 5:1-18
The Pharisees and teachers of the Law had to decide whether or not 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 - Jesus Invites a Tax Collector to Join Him). They began to look for ways to discredit him. It didn’t take them long. 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 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 the site of the ritual cleansing baths the pilgrims took before they could enter 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 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. Jesus asked him, “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 happened to take 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 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 who Jesus was, and by then he had disappeared into the crowd. But Jesus wasn’t only concerned with the man’s physical health. He was far more concerned with his spiritual condition. He looked for the man and found him at the Temple—a place the man had not been allowed to enter for 38 years. Jesus said, “Don’t sin any more or something worse may happen to you.” The man suddenly realized who he was talking to. He told the Jewish leaders that it was Jesus who had made him well. Jesus had done nothing to break God’s Law when he healed that man on the Sabbath—but he had violated the Pharisees’ traditions. In addition, he had instructed the man to carry his mat on the Sabbath—another violation! The leaders felt they now had grounds to prosecute him. Jesus defended himself by saying, “My Father is always at work—even right now! And I am working too.” Now they felt they had grounds to kill him! Not only had he broken what they considered to be God’s Law, he had committed blasphemy by making himself equal with God!
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.