Letters to the Prison - Week 45

Hello, everyone.
We’re moving into chapter 5 of John’s gospel.  But before we do, there’s one last thing to say about Jesus’ ministry in Samaria:  Jesus saved the lowliest person (the woman at the well) while she was at her worst.  She then ministered to a town that probably held little or no respect or regard for her.  Yet she did so bravely and gently and simply (“Come and see one who told me all that I ever did.  Can this be the Christ?”).  And it worked.  Most if not all of her entire village was saved.  This is a great encouragement to us.  If God can use her in a hugely valuable way for his kingdom, he can use us too.  Right where we are.  Whether we feel capable or respectable or not.  And God will use us mightily, if we choose to participate in what he has planned for us.
Which brings us to chapter 5.
We see in verse 1 that Jesus returns to Jerusalem.  Once there, he encounters a man who “had been an invalid for 38 years” (vs. 5).  The healing of the lame man at the pool of Bethesda (John 5:1-17) was a profound event in many ways.  To see this, we’ll begin by looking at what it shows about Jesus:  
1)It shows the knowledge of Jesus:
Jesus knows the lame man.  Knows he’s been there a long time.  He picked him out of a crowd of other suffering people.  There was “a multitude of invalids—blind, lame, and paralyzed” there (vs. 3) yet Jesus chooses this one man.  Why?  Do we suppose that Jesus had met the man in his previous visits to Jerusalem and knew this man and his condition that way?  No.  Jesus knows this man completely.  Inside and out.  The same way he knows us.
2)It shows the power of Jesus
Jesus shows his power by simply commanding the man to “Get up, take up your bed, and walk.” (vs 7).  There’s no ritual or prayer or “showy” display… not even a gesture.  Jesus didn’t even touch the man.  Jesus just utters a simple command, and the man is instantly healed.
3)It shows the authority of Jesus
Jesus’ authority is on display here, too.  Not only in the healing where he displays his authority even over our own bodies, but also in his conversation with the Jewish leaders.  When they confront him for choosing to heal the lame man on a Sabbath day (apparently healing someone is considered work), Jesus displays his authority over the Sabbath by saying “My Father is working until now, and I am working.” (vs 17).
That is a profound thing that Jesus says about himself.  Once again, he equates himself to God by calling God his Father.  Further, Jesus claims to know what God is doing (working) and he claims to be working too.  This is shocking to the Jewish leaders who strictly honor God’s commands regarding the Sabbath by not working and by creating numerous rules about what is and isn’t considered to be “work.”  Jesus upends all of this by claiming to have the authority to work on the Sabbath because his Father, God, also works on the Sabbath.
There is much more to be said about this healing.  So, we’ll continue to consider it next week.  Until then, keep reading John 5!    

Dean A.

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