Studies in the Gospel of John- The Third Sign
I. The Healing of the Lame Man
After this there was a feast of the Jews, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. Now there is in Jerusalem by the Sheep Gate a pool, in Aramaic called Bethesda, which has five roofed colonnades. In these lay a multitude of invalids—blind, lame, and paralyzed. One man was there who had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him lying there and knew that he had already been there a long time, he said to him, “Do you want to be healed?” The sick man answered him, “Sir, I have no one to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up, and while I am going another steps down before me.” Jesus said to him, “Get up, take up your bed, and walk.” And at once the man was healed, and he took up his bed and walked. Now that day was the Sabbath. So the Jews said to the man who had been healed, “It is the Sabbath, and it is not lawful for you to take up your bed.” But he answered them, “The man who healed me, that man said to me, ‘Take up your bed, and walk.'” They asked him, “Who is the man who said to you, ‘Take up your bed and walk’?” Now the man who had been healed did not know who it was, for Jesus had withdrawn, as there was a crowd in the place. Afterward Jesus found him in the temple and said to him, “See, you are well! Sin no more, that nothing worse may happen to you.” The man went away and told the Jews that it was Jesus who had healed him. And this was why the Jews were persecuting Jesus, because he was doing these things on the Sabbath. (John 5:1-16)
A. As we look at the signs recorded in the Gospel of John we will attempt to describe them, as Arthur Pink says, in three ways. 1. The Typical Significance 2. The Prophetic Application 3. The Practical Teaching.
B. When reading the Gospel of John always ask questions of the Holy Spirit, who is the author of the book through Apostle John. As this book records, He, the Holy Spirit, will lead us and guide us into all Truth.
II. The Practical Teaching
A. There was a feast taking place in Jerusalem and Jesus goes up to it. You can imagine that whenever there is a feast at Jerusalem there are many people that pack into the city. The city was very crowded. Commentators do not agree on which feast this was, however there are some who believe this was probably Pentecost.
B. Jesus goes to the Sheep Gate which is believed to be close by to the entrance of the temple. There was a pool for either watering animals and individuals or for ceremonial washing. Nonetheless, it was where the Lamb of God was choosing to enter the city.
C. Around this pool was a multitude of impotent people. Blind, Lame, Paralyzed waiting for the moving of the waters. The moving of the waters is attached to some confusion. This verse does not appear in many of the older manuscripts. Tertullian is the earliest writer to mention it. The Jews explained the healing virtues of the intermittent spring by the ministry of angels. Therefore John by the Holy Spirit, was mentioning the reasoning of the lame man when he answers Jesus’ question in verse 6.
D. This man had an infirmity for 38 years. Jesus knew he had been there a long time. He asks him a very pointed question and one that seems to question the obvious “Do you want to be made well?” The man’s response reveals the condition of his mind. He has come to accept the fact that he cannot be made well, because of “this” or “that”, though the Healer is standing in front of him and he doesn’t recognize Him.
E. Jesus speaks the word and the man is healed and takes up his bed and begins walking on the Sabbath. In obedience to Jesus word. Later Jesus encounters him and tells him to “sin no more lest a worse thing come upon you.” No matter when we receive miracles from God we must let the power that changed circumstances make the ultimate change in our heart. For many have received miracles from the Lord and yet did not see it as an opportunity to change inwardly.
F. He then returns to testify to the Jews who made Him well. We too must be willing to answer and testify to the religious, powerful, and scoffers who it is that has made us well.
III. The Typical Significance
A. We are talking about the types and symbols of the event.
B. It is the Sheep Gate by which the pool is located. Not only is that indicative of the Lamb of God entering in by said gate, but also symbolic of the multitude of people that are the sheep of His pasture, and they are sick.
C. It is the pool of Bethesda which means “House of Mercy
D. There are 5 colonnades or porches. The number 5 is symbolic of grace or favor.
E. The people around the pool are impotent-powerless to change their circumstances. They are Blind(Lost Vision), Lame(Can’t Stand), Paralyzed(Immobilized)
F. The man had an infirmity for 38 years. Deuteronomy 2:14 says “And the time from our leaving Kadesh-barnea until we crossed the brook Zered was thirty-eight years, until the entire generation, that is, the men of war, had perished from the camp, as the LORD had sworn to them.” Kadesh-Barnea was the place where the spies brought back an evil report of the Promised Land, and the people sinned against God (Deuteronomy 9) and that generation became Blind, Lame, and Paralyzed and they all died out except Joshua and Caleb who brought back the report of the Lord.
G. He healed him on the Sabbath. Matthew 12:8 “For the Son of Man is lord of the Sabbath.”
Hebrews 4:9“So then, there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God,” Jesus is our Promised Land and our Sabbath rest!
IV. The Prophetic Application
A. This Sign is indicative of Jesus’ Ministry to the people of God in taking them into the (Joshua) Promised Land. Healing them to inherit the Promises of God. Though we are a part of the sheepfold, yet powerless to go on into the Temple of His presence because of our sin of unbelief manifested in our excuses as to why we cannot be made well enough to go. When He speaks the Word healing flows.
B. If this Feast is Pentecost it would make sense. The abundant Life God wanted the children of Israel to experience in the Promised Land is now realized as a result of the Promise of the Father, the Baptism of the Holy Spirit, who comes to Fill us with Power (healing us from impotence, giving us vision, ability to stand, and causing us to advance) from on High to be His witnesses and to carry His Gospel to the ends of the earth. (Acts 1:8)