Imagine walking past the water fountains in front of Rupp Arena in downtown Lexington where there are a ton of disabled people just lying there or dipping in the fountain believing there was some type of magical healing powers in the water. Not only would most people ignore this scenario but they’d also probably purposely avoid it. It’s why these people were called the “invalids” or “ill” in John 5.
The blind, the lame and the paralyzed would meet at a pool called Bethsheda in Jerusalem in hopes of being healed. Our culture is more politically correct than back then so the disabled and sick people would hopefully not be looked upon as the “invalids” but I know people who would put people of other religions, homeless people, refugees and other sub-cultures or ethnicities in that “invalid” category. Jesus asks one guy there if he wanted to be healed and the guy tells Jesus no one will help him get into the pool and people keep cutting him off when he tried himself. Once again, this illustrates how people don’t care and don’t want to help these people. Of course, Jesus is not talking about the pool but instead Himself as that source of healing and says, “Get up, take up your bed, and walk.” And at once the man was healed and he did exactly that: he took up his bed and walked. Not only does Jesus show that he cares but he helps answer the need, a need that only He could truly provide for.
However, we have a plot twist. Where you’d think this story would end on a high note, the Jews in the area get upset because (get this), the guy picked up his bed ON THE SABBATH. Since picking up your mat must’ve been considered work and every good religious person at that time knew that you couldn’t work on the Sabbath, they completely ignored the miracle and attacked the man who was healed. The guy told them he just did what the miracle man told him to do, not knowing who this miracle man was. Later Jesus sees the healed man amongst a crowd in the temple and says “See, you are well.” But now Jesus doesn’t just leave Him with this friendly reminder of his physical healing but instead now gives Him hope of what’s most important, a spiritual healing. Where before He told him to “grab his bed and walk” now He tells him to “sin no more.” Now the man finally knew whom he was speaking to. It was Jesus, the one who proclaimed to have the power to forgive sin. Jesus wasn’t telling him, “Sin no more” by not working on the Sabbath but instead to trust in the One who has the power to physically heal the body and soul. That sin would become no more in what Jesus was preaching, teaching and later proving on the cross and in the resurrection.
So what can we get out of this story that seems to go in all types of different directions?
- Jesus cares for the invalids.
- Religious people will put law over people. Jesus doesn’t.
- Only Jesus has the power to take away sin.
Will we model our lives after these great truths? Will we care for those that the world may not care for, but Jesus does? Will we put people over ethics? Even if we can win the debate, are we hurting a person in the process? Do we trust in Jesus as the One who will still help take care of the sin we are currently struggling with or tempted by?
By: Erik Koliser