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Reading through the Gospels #94



John 5:1-17

There were three holy days which all Jewish males were required to come to Jerusalem (Passover and Unleavened Bread, Pentecost [also called Festival of Harvest and Festival of Weeks], and Festival of Shelters.  Those needing healing were at a pool called Bethesda. One of the invalids had been there 38 years! Just as Jesus knows everything about me (omniscient), he knew about this man.  The man did not come to Jesus, but rather Jesus came to the man and asked if he wanted to be healed. The man answered that he had no one to put him into the healing pool.  Expecting Jesus to help him get into the pool, the man would have been surprised to instead hear a different answer, that being, "Get up, take up your bed, and walk." Once again, upon Jesus's words, a miraculous healing happened.  Since creation, Jesus speaks things into being. 


Why would Jesus ask the man if he wanted to be healed? Doesn't everyone want to be healed? Do people who have been afflicted for so long eventually lose hope? If the man had answered that he did not want to be healed, would Jesus have healed him anyway?


It being the Sabbath, the unbelievers (Jewish leaders) were looking for something to hold against Jesus and noticed the man, previously not walking for 38 years, suddenly was carrying his mat and walking.  They must have known it was only Jesus who could have done such a miracle. How crazy that it is not lawful to carry one's bed on the Sabbath!  Did they just make up that law? Surely carrying around a small mat is not "working on the Sabbath." So silly.


Jesus found the man again. Jesus checks up on me even after I am healed! Jesus is as concerned with my spiritual health as my physical health. Did the man go to the temple first to thank God? Jesus tells him to sin no more so nothing worse can happen to him. This means that our sins are a cause for the bad things that happen to us. It must have been sin that caused the man to be unable to walk. Sin messes up so many things in this world. This is a warning from Jesus that we all should take seriously. Yes, I have forgiveness today through baptism and faith, but although forgiven, I may still have to suffer the consequences of my sin while on earth. Of course, my sin is not ALWAYS the cause of hardships and afflictions. For instance, in John 9:3, Jesus answered, “It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him." So sometimes afflictions are because of my sin, sometimes they are because of other's sin, sometimes they are a test, and sometimes they are just so God can be seen through me.


I feel as if the healed man betrayed Jesus. He made a special point to go and tell the others it was Jesus after he found Him again later.  Jesus did him a huge kindness and it meant nothing to him. It seems a classic case of indifference. Of course, this was God's plan that Jesus be persecuted to lead to his hanging on the cross. This story is not so much about Jesus healing as it is about God's plan to save all his people.  The Bible is about Jesus, not me, and so this story is about how  a lame man's healing caused Jesus to be persecuted which led to the cross. But alas, this is forever for me; Jesus died for me; Jesus loves me.


Also, if he did not come up with a blame on someone else for his walking with a bed on the Sabbath, he may have faced a serious consequence from the Jewish leaders for breaking the law. In other words, he was a tattletale to save his own skin. He did not give his life for Jesus, but Jesus gave His life for the lame man.


Jesus said, "“My Father is working until now, and I am working.” God the Father's work is to love His people and that all come to faith in Him. God's plan is at work here and so is Jesus's work to save all people. God's plan is that all join Him in heaven aka all are saved. It is not that Jesus was working as we work, but He is working to save people by allowing Himself to be persecuted which eventually leads to Him on the cross. It is also noted that Jesus calls God His Father. It is also noted that we can do God's work on the Sabbath, even though the ten commandments are to not work on the Sabbath.


In the version, there is no verse 4! In King James it reads, "For an angel went down at a certain season into the pool, and troubled the water: whosoever then first after the troubling of the water stepped in was made whole of whatsoever disease he had."


Most believe that a scribe (the person doing the copying) thought it was puzzling why the man would lie there for 38 years. Perhaps he knew a tradition that said the angel periodically came down to stir up the waters and the first person in was healed, and so he added in the verse. If only one person was healed per year, that would explain why he was there 38 years. Others would argue that for some reason the verse was dropped off. Erasmus (1500’s) created a Greek text based on two manuscripts from the 12th century (Matthew through Jude) and another 12th century manuscript for all but the last 6 verses of Revelation. He went from the Latin back into Greek to get those last 6. His work became the basis of the King James translation. 150 years ago we started digging up new manuscripts that were in fact must older (by centuries). They came from a different geographical area than the majority of the texts we currently had, and they were different in places. For example, they did not have John 5:4.



Copyright Cheryl Rutledge-Brennecke
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