In 2013 we visited the Pool of Bethesda and the nearby church. It was cool. I appreciated the archeology and the amazing acoustics within the church. But to be honest, as we were nearing the pool, I had somewhat of a “been there, done that” mentality.
As it turned out, I was ambushed by God. I never saw it coming!
We pulled the group together and sat next to the remains of the Pool for a bit of a Bible Study. We opened our Bibles to John 5 to read about the Healing at the Pool of Bethesda.
The words of the text jumped off of the page and I saw the story in a whole new light. Here is the story in a nutshell…
Jesus went up to Jerusalem for one of the Jewish festivals (just like he had done three times per year every year of his life). While going by the Pool of Bethesda, he saw someone who had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. Most likely Jesus had seen him before in the several decades of traveling to Jerusalem for the feasts. How many times had Jesus walked past him without offering healing?
This time was different. Jesus asked the man if he wanted to get well. The man replied with superstitious excuses as to why he could never get into the Pool to be healed. Jesus doesn’t touch the excuses, instead he tells the man to pick up his mat and walk.
Immediately the man was healed. But this happened on a Sabbath and the religious leaders were not happy about it. They question led the man who was healed and asked who healed him. He said he didn’t know.
At this point the story gets interesting.
Jesus miraculously healed this man, which was an awesome display of grace. Everyone loves grace. According to John 1:14, Jesus was full of grace and truth. People love the grace. Not so much the truth.
So Jesus finds the man a little later on and says, “See, you are well again. Stop sinning or something worse may happen to you” (see John 5:14).
At this point the man went and told the religious leaders that it was Jesus who had healed him on the Sabbath.
What was this guy doing? How was he sinning? Why would he go out of his way to turn in the man who had made him well after being an invalid for thirty-eight years?!
People love the grace. People hate the truth.
At this point the religious leaders in Jerusalem began to persecute Jesus. He had largely flown under the radar until this moment, but now the battle begins.
The religious leaders already hated John the Baptist, but they didn’t really know much about Jesus. John was the rockstar. Jesus was under the radar.
All of that changed because Jesus healed a disabled man and then called him out on his sin.
Jesus responded to their accusations not by defending himself, but by pointing to the Father. This also becomes the first time that he calls himself equal to the Father.