Healing at the Pool on the Sabbath

John 5:1-17

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 paralyzed. 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 leaderssaid 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. 16 So, because Jesus was doing these things on the Sabbath, the Jewish leaders began to persecute him. 17 In his defense Jesus said to them, “My Father is always at his work to this very day, and I too am working.”

The Healing at the Pool on the Sabbath

The further we move into John’s Gospel, the wider he draws open the curtains on Jesus’ identity and mission. His miracles grow bigger and his words grow bolder—all revealing Jesus to be the Messiah, the Son of God—even God the Son.

Isaiah envisioned the age of the Messiah in terms of a new exodus. The blind will see, the deaf will hear, the lame will leap, and the desert sand will become a pool of refreshing water (Isa. 35:1–10). The healing of the invalid by the pool of Bethesda is another declaration that the eschatological era of the Messiah has dawned—the “last days” of God’s final, earthly revelation of his grace have begun (Heb. 1:2Acts 2:17). In Jesus, the kingdom of God has come near (Matt. 3:2; 4:17Mark 1:15). 

The fact that Jesus healed the lame man on the Sabbath is both intentional and significant. Jesus has authority over Israel’s Sabbath, for he is the Lord of the Sabbath (Luke 6:1–11Mark 2:23–28). The Jerusalem temple had become a house of commercial business (John 2:16), but God meant it to be a “house of mercy” (the meaning of “Bethesda”; 5:2). Only through Jesus can we find God’s mercy and grace, and enter into true Sabbath rest (Heb. 4:1–10)—ceasing from our futile efforts to save ourselves, as we trust in Jesus’ perfect work on our behalf.

Though Jesus cares about our whole being, this man’s greatest need was not healed legs but a redeemed heart. When Jesus pursued him and spoke the words, “Sin no more,” he wasn’t calling him to sinless perfection but to live in response to the mercy of a perfect Savior. The entire Christian life is a life of growing in grace (2 Pet. 3:18). Though we are perfectly forgiven, we await the perfection of eternity with Christ. And yet as those swept up into and toward the latter-day kingdom of God, we are called to “sin no more”—to live out our new, radically transformed identity.

*These devos are taken from Crossway's, ESV Gospel Transformation Bible.