Healing a Lame Man

John selected seven of Jesus’ miracles for inclusion in his gospel. The first one strengthened the fledgling faith of Jesus’ disciples (2:11). The second produced joy and belief in a royal official and his household (4:53). And the third? It made Jesus’ critics determined to kill Him! What was so different about this one?

A Merciful Miracle
The account in John 5 opens with a crowd gathered at a pool called Bethesda. The belief was that an angel occasionally stirred the pool, and the first one in would be cured. At least two factors indicate this was only a tradition, not the reality. First, Bible miracles were never on such an indiscriminate, first-come, first-served basis. Second, miracles were purposeful signs to confirm the identity of God’s spokesmen (Hebrews 2:3-4), not random physical blessings solely to benefit their recipients.

A man who had been afflicted for thirty-eight years was a regular in the crowd. His lameness, however, always prevented him from being first in the pool. Ignorance and ineptitude created a pitiful spectacle, not unlike people who spend a lifetime searching in the wrong places for salvation.

Jesus told the man to take up his pallet and walk. Immediately he did. As was always the case, Jesus’ miracle was instant and complete.

A Controversial Claim
The miracle occurred on the Sabbath. Critical Jews first accused the cured man of breaking the Sabbath by carrying his pallet, then they charged Jesus with wrong for healing on the Sabbath.

The Lord’s answer was, “My Father is working until now, and I Myself am working” (vs. 17). His argument was, God works every day, and as God’s Son I have the same relationship to the Sabbath that He does. They got the point. “For this reason therefore the Jews were seeking all the more to kill Him, because He not only was breaking the Sabbath, but also was calling God His own Father, making Himself equal with God” (v. 18).

An Enlightening Explanation
Those who do not believe in Jesus’ deity argue that He did not really claim deity here. They say v. 18 simply reflects His enemies’ misunderstanding of His words. If that were the case, honesty would have compelled Jesus to correct them. He did the opposite. Jesus confirmed their interpretation of His words, adding that the Father would manifest in Him even greater works than these.
The divine prerogatives that Jesus said the Father had given to Him included raising the dead and giving life (vv. 21-23), giving spiritual life (vv. 24-25), and judging (vv. 22, 27-29).

Friend, Jesus is God the Son. Believe in Him that you may have eternal life and not come into judgment.

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