1After this there was a feast of the Jews; and Jesus went up to Jerusalem.
2 Now there is at Jerusalem by the sheep market a pool, which is called in the Hebrew tongue Bethesda, having five porches.
3 In these lay a great multitude of impotent folk, of blind, halt, withered, waiting for the moving of the water.
I’m going to start my commentary here. “Blessed art the Meek. For they shall inherit the earth.” These are all the meek. Those who cannot take care of themselves.
4 For an angel went down at a certain season into the pool, and troubled the water: whosoever then first after the troubling of the water stepped in was made whole of whatsoever disease he had.
This is an important verse. It shows the Old Covenant. How a man had to heal themselves in order to be saved. They had to atone by sacrificing animals.
5 And a certain man was there, which had an infirmity thirty and eight years.
The man in this story suffered thirty-eight years.
6 When Jesus saw him lie, and knew that he had been now a long time in that case, he saith unto him, Wilt thou be made whole?
Here is a conversation. I heard a foul teaching yesterday that suggested the man was in some way to blame for this. We have this habit of being treacherous toward the meek in our society. I think the most blame is placed on the fact that we cannot understand the context of the dialogue. Mostly because verse 4 was removed, we cannot know that the waters actually did heal. The Old Covenant actually did heal, but because of the throngs, and the crippling nature of our sins and the flesh, it was not sufficient.
7 The impotent man answered him, Sir, I have no man, when the water is troubled, to put me into the pool: but while I am coming, another steppeth down before me.
He cannot enter into the pool. This is why Jesus asked, “You are willing to be healed?” The man answered, “Sir, I have no man, when the water is troubled, to put me into the pool: but while I am coming, another steps down before me.” The point is that there is a conversation happening between Jesus and the man. Jesus is asking the man “You are willing to be healed?” knowing the man wants to be healed, but the throngs are preventing him. The point being that Jesus recognizes it is a competition, and those first to the pool are the ones being healed. It is no longer about faith, but rather about striving among one another. Jesus, at this point, is saying, “You are willing to be healed?” Probably shocked that the man, wanting to be healed, is not healed.
8 Jesus saith unto him, Rise, take up thy bed, and walk.
At this, Jesus heals the infirmity. Just like grace will heal our infirmity, which is called sin.
9 And immediately the man was made whole, and took up his bed, and walked: and on the same day was the sabbath.
Here, the Pharisees believe Jesus broke the Sabbath laws, and therefore could not be the Messiah. They had thought He sinned.
10 The Jews therefore said unto him that was cured, It is the sabbath day: it is not lawful for thee to carry thy bed.
The observation of the Jewish law here testifies to the absurd boundaries placed on individuals in Jewish society. Much like the man could not enter into the pool by reason of competition, the whole country was in a mad dash to be saved by observing laws that benefited nobody by themselves. In that, they could not even carry a mat that they lied down on. This was why the Pharisees needed challenged.
11 He answered them, He that made me whole, the same said unto me, Take up thy bed, and walk.
He doesn’t know who healed him at this point. Much like the Gentile believers, who when encountered with the Spirit of God, are healed, but do not know the name of the God who saved them. “I was sought by a people who did not seek me, and was found of them; of them who knew me not, and I was found.”
12 Then asked they him, What man is that which said unto thee, Take up thy bed, and walk?
13 And he that was healed wist not who it was: for Jesus had conveyed himself away, a multitude being in that place.
The man did not know who had healed him.
14 Afterward Jesus findeth him in the temple, and said unto him, Behold, thou art made whole: sin no more, lest a worse thing come unto thee.
This is the same thing he told the prostitute. And it’s the same thing he tells anyone who has sinned. We are not to sin after a salvation experience. We can’t sin. Stronger than “Ought” or “Must not”, it literally means “Cannot” because the consequence is everlasting torment in hell if we backslide into our sin.
15 The man departed, and told the Jews that it was Jesus, which had made him whole.
16 And therefore did the Jews persecute Jesus, and sought to slay him, because he had done these things on the sabbath day.
I find it concerning that this is interpreted as a betrayal against Jesus. The reason why is the negative connotation on the word “Jews”. Had not the Samaritan woman done the same? This imbibes an antisemitic vein in the culture, that the word “Jew” takes such a negative connotation. All of Judea were Jews. I am furious with the pastors who put forth the idea that this poor man was sinning. If so, we all are sinners until we are made able to walk by grace.