John 5

This devotional is written by Trissie Coleshaw. 

John 5

The healing at the pool
Some time later, Jesus went up to Jerusalem for one of the Jewish festivals. 2 Now there is in Jerusalem near the Sheep Gate a pool, which in Aramaic is called Bethesda and which is surrounded by five covered colonnades. 3 Here a great number of disabled people used to lie - the blind, the lame, the paralysed. 5 One who was there had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. 6 When Jesus saw him lying there and learned that he had been in this condition for a long time, he asked him, 'Do you want to get well?'

7 'Sir,' the invalid replied, 'I have no one to help me into the pool when the water is stirred. While I am trying to get in, someone else goes down ahead of me.'

8 Then Jesus said to him, 'Get up! Pick up your mat and walk.' 9 At once the man was cured; he picked up his mat and walked.

The day on which this took place was a Sabbath, 10 and so the Jewish leaders said to the man who had been healed, 'It is the Sabbath; the law forbids you to carry your mat.'

11 But he replied, 'The man who made me well said to me, "Pick up your mat and walk."'

12 So they asked him, 'Who is this fellow who told you to pick it up and walk?'

13 The man who was healed had no idea who it was, for Jesus had slipped away into the crowd that was there.

14 Later Jesus found him at the temple and said to him, 'See, you are well again. Stop sinning or something worse may happen to you.' 15 The man went away and told the Jewish leaders that it was Jesus who had made him well.

The authority of the Son
16 So, because Jesus was doing these things on the Sabbath, the Jewish leaders began to persecute him. 17 In his defence Jesus said to them, 'My Father is always at his work to this very day, and I too am working.' 18 For this reason they tried all the more to kill him; not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God.

19 Jesus gave them this answer: 'Very truly I tell you, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does. 20 For the Father loves the Son and shows him all he does. Yes, and he will show him even greater works than these, so that you will be amazed. 21 For just as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, even so the Son gives life to whom he is pleased to give it. 22 Moreover, the Father judges no one, but has entrusted all judgment to the Son, 23 that all may honour the Son just as they honour the Father. Whoever does not honour the Son does not honour the Father, who sent him.

24 'Very truly I tell you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be judged but has crossed over from death to life. 25 Very truly I tell you, a time is coming and has now come when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God and those who hear will live. 26 For as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son also to have life in himself. 27 And he has given him authority to judge because he is the Son of Man.

28 'Do not be amazed at this, for a time is coming when all who are in their graves will hear his voice 29 and come out - those who have done what is good will rise to live, and those who have done what is evil will rise to be condemned. 30 By myself I can do nothing; I judge only as I hear, and my judgment is just, for I seek not to please myself but him who sent me.

Testimonies about Jesus
31 'If I testify about myself, my testimony is not true. 32 There is another who testifies in my favour, and I know that his testimony about me is true.

33 'You have sent to John and he has testified to the truth. 34 Not that I accept human testimony; but I mention it that you may be saved. 35 John was a lamp that burned and gave light, and you chose for a time to enjoy his light.

36 'I have testimony weightier than that of John. For the works that the Father has given me to finish - the very works that I am doing - testify that the Father has sent me. 37 And the Father who sent me has himself testified concerning me. You have never heard his voice nor seen his form, 38 nor does his word dwell in you, for you do not believe the one he sent. 39 You study the Scriptures diligently because you think that in them you have eternal life. These are the very Scriptures that testify about me, 40 yet you refuse to come to me to have life.

41 'I do not accept glory from human beings, 42 but I know you. I know that you do not have the love of God in your hearts. 43 I have come in my Father's name, and you do not accept me; but if someone else comes in his own name, you will accept him. 44 How can you believe since you accept glory from one another but do not seek the glory that comes from the only God?

45 'But do not think I will accuse you before the Father. Your accuser is Moses, on whom your hopes are set. 46 If you believed Moses, you would believe me, for he wrote about me. 47 But since you do not believe what he wrote, how are you going to believe what I say?'


It's a blindingly bright day: the hot sun is beating down relentlessly, no breeze, no running water. You have no home to call your own. You shelter under a colonnade with a throng of other people with nowhere else to go, but the temperature of everyone's filthy bodies packed closely together and covered in dank sweat makes the heat of the day even more unbearable. You are paralyzed and diseased, worsened every day by malnutrition, dehydration and infection. You are despised by the whole community for this illness, whose cause is unknown, but which everyone says you 'brought on yourself' as a punishment from God. You've never known why. Today, you have come to The Pool of Bethesda because somebody said you could be healed there by the water. This is the last trip you are going to make--you're too old, too weak to go any further, and your body simply can't take any more. You try desperately to drag yourself towards the pool, believing these mystical waters to be your last shot; but before you're even half-way down the steps you're trampled over by one able-bodied bather after the other, just like a piece of dirt on the ground. To them you are completely invisible. Your salvation in the waters is out of reach forever. In the eyes of the world, you are absolutely nothing.

In John 5, Christ sees this social pariah, and with no fuss, no grandiose introduction or announcement of His divine authority, He simply chats to the man, heals him and leaves. Such is the ease and generosity with which God pours out His love to us. What is also significant here is that when Jesus asks the man 'do you want to get well?', the paralyzed man doesn't even answer the question directly. He tells his story to Jesus, not recognizing that he is speaking to the incarnation of God, who is standing right before him. And yet, in his ignorance, he is still deemed worthy of healing.

Has it ever felt like God has walked straight past you in your suffering because you didn't say the 'right' thing? Have you ever thought that if only you were holier, He might deem you worthy of healing? That if only you were 'a good Christian', God might possibly condescend to love you? The Healing at the Pool is a reminder that we don't need to say the right thing, or be 'perfect' in order to qualify for God's adoration--He gives it freely. Like the paralyzed man at Bethesda, by bringing and offering up to God all our complications and messiness, and by willingly entering into dialogue with Jesus, we allow Him to create the space in our lives that He will delightedly fill with His miraculous, indiscriminate love.

Today, take a moment to tell God out loud what is weighing you down. Be specific, and don't worry that something might be too trivial for God to care about, or too complicated to solve. It might be sickness, or the conflict around the world, conflict in your home, or conflict in your own heart. Whatever it is, don't worry about saying 'the right thing' or praying 'the right way' - just dig down into the deep truth of what you're feeling. Tell God your story, just as the paralyzed man told Him his. And when you're done, simply thank Him for his faithfulness. Thank Him for loving the parts of you that others refuse to look at. Thank Him for always being there to turn to.

Make God your source of strength today, and like the paralyzed man, see just how much easier it is to pick yourself up and walk through the challenges of the world.

No Comments