John 5:1-16 Reflection: The Healing at Bethesda

A reading from the gospel according to John 5:1-16:

1 There was a feast of the Jews, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem.
2 Now there is in Jerusalem at the Sheep Gate a pool called in Hebrew Bethesda, with five porticoes.
3 In these lay a large number of ill, blind, lame, and crippled.
5 One man was there who had been ill for thirty-eight years.
6 When Jesus saw him lying there and knew that he had been ill for a long time, he said to him, “Do you want to be well?”
7 The sick man answered him, “Sir, I have no one to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up; while I am on my way, someone else gets down there before me.”
8 Jesus said to him, “Rise, take up your mat, and walk.”
9 Immediately the man became well, took up his mat, and walked. Now that day was a sabbath.
10 So the Jews said to the man who was cured, “It is the sabbath, and it is not lawful for you to carry your mat.”
11 He answered them, “The man who made me well told me, ‘Take up your mat and walk.’”
12 They asked him, “Who is the man who told you, ‘Take it up and walk’?”
13 The man who was healed did not know who it was, for Jesus had slipped away, since there was a crowd there.
14 After this Jesus found him in the temple area and said to him, “Look, you are well; do not sin any more, so that nothing worse may happen to you.”
15 The man went and told the Jews that Jesus was the one who had made him well.
16 Therefore, the Jews began to persecute Jesus because he did this on a sabbath.

Reflection: Healing

In the gospel of John, we can easily notice that the evangelist tries to present Jesus as the Messiah but the Jews, i.e. the religious leaders opposed Him. The healing of the ill man at Bethesda in the gospel reading above is another sign of His being the Messiah. Jesus as a compassionate healer noticed the man who was sick for 38 years and told him to take up his mat and walk. However, it was done on a Sabbath day and that gave the Jews a reason to persecute Jesus.

Here is Jesus exercising His role as the Messiah and here are the Jews opposing and persecuting Him continuously up to Calvary. The power of established religion is in full display. To the religious leaders, obeying their regulation is more important than compassion. Look at the man who was sick for thirty-eight years and no one, not a single one of the religious leaders lifted a finger to help him. And then when the Lord healed him, he is persecuted instead of appreciated.

“Do not sin anymore”, Jesus tells the man whom he healed. Most probably, the man has some attitudinal problems that turn off people. How come that for some long years, he had no friend or relative to help him? Moreover, he was ungrateful to Jesus and instead reported His identity as his healer to the Jews. He was also unrepentant. So why did Jesus heal him? This is called undeserved grace. All of us are sinners and we don’t deserve our blessings. Yet God is gracious to us, slow to anger and rich in kindness (Psalm 145:8).

Gospel Reading and Reflection
Gospel Reading and Reflection

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