John writes his gospel because he believes Jesus is the only way to the Father. He writes it because he wants people to know who Jesus is. That’s John’s desire. So as we study these signs it’s important that we remember John wants to show us Jesus.
Each sign brings with it a truth about who Jesus is. Each sign brings us closer to Jesus. Each sign breaks through our walls. Each sign shines light into our dark corners.
Today we look at the story of Jesus healing a paralytic man by a pool called Bethesda. And how that breaks down our walls of tradition and shines His light into our dark places. The is part four you can read the rest here.
Let’s dig in.
Our sign today is found in John 5:1-15. Take a moment to read over this passage before we go any further.
Jesus has gone up to Jerusalem to the, “Sheep Gate a pool, in Aramaic called Bethesda” (John 5:2) The pool was surrounded by people with all kinds of physical disabilities. Because it’s a tradition as a place of healing not only for the Jews but the pagan cultures who lived there. Even the early Canaanites believed this pool had healing properties. This was a place where people sought healing, and sought it from a source other than Jesus.
And that’s important to note as we look at the exchange between Jesus and the paralytic. Jesus approaches him and says, “Do you want to be healed?” (John 5:6b) Now this would have been something of a rhetorical question. Everyone there wanted to be healed. That’s why they are there. But Jesus never asks a question without wanting to answer the deep question. The paralytic replies, “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.” (John 5:7) The paralytic man’s hope is in the pool. And if he can just get into the pool he’ll be healed. But Jesus has a different plan for him.
John continues the story, “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.” (John 5:8-9) This sign reveals Jesus in two ways. First as the restorer. It wasn’t the pool that would heal the man it was Jesus. Jesus is the Restorer. That is to say, the pool represented a false hope of restoration but Jesus provides true hope of restoration. This sign points beyond our attempts to find wholeness in earthly things and shows Jesus as our true source of restoration.
This is a twofold sign. Not only does it reveal Jesus as the restorer but he is also the deliverer. He delivers us from bondage from our traditions. Consider the Jews’ response to Jesus’ action, “Now that day was the Sabbath. So the Jews said to the man who had been healed, ‘It is the Sabbath, and it is not lawful for you to take up your bed’.” (John 5:10) It’s important for us to note here that the Jews have one traditional way of worshiping God on the Sabbath but Jesus has a new way.
Jesus is confronting tradition both that of Judaism and the pagans. He is intent on showing he is the way to the Father and true restoration. This miracle points us to the deeper truth that Jesus is the true restorer and deliverer. Restoration and deliverance are not found in the pool or the tradition but in Jesus.
John wants his reader to see and understand Jesus as the restorer and deliverer. Restoration and deliverance are not found in our traditions but in the Word of God becoming flesh, blood, and bones.