SAY WHAT? (What is the passage saying?)
- Jesus goes back to Jerusalem and to a pool called Bethesda. This was where sick people would gather in hopes that the mysterious properties of the pool would cure them. Jesus heals a man there who had been crippled for 38 years.
- Jesus is persecuted by the Jews because the healing happened on a Sabbath (Saturday). God had commanded that people rest from their work on the Sabbath (in Exodus 20:8-11). But the Jewish leaders had added further rules, turning this command that was intended to benefit people into a prison that shackled them.
- Jesus confronts the Jewish leaders way of practicing religion.
- Jesus tells the Jews about his relationship with the Father. He says that God has given him authority and a mission. This kind of talk was radical for the Jewish culture. When Jesus claimed God as his father, he was making himself equal with God. This was considered blasphemy.
- In verse 24 Jesus reveals how to have eternal life: “whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned.” He shows that life comes from the Father and frees people of condemnation. This eternal life allows us to have a relationship with God.
- In verse 28 Jesus talks about God’s judgment. God will raise everyone from the dead and judge them based on whether they’ve lived for him or lived for themselves. Jesus is the judge and he will be impartial because he seeks to honor God and not himself.
- Jesus confronts the Jewish leaders for missing the point of reading the Scriptures. They proudly thought they were right with God because they knew the Bible, but they were wrong because they didn't really know the God of the Bible.
- In verse 45 Jesus says that “your accuser is Moses .” He's making the point that the laws the Jewish leadership were trying to follow and enforce were the very laws that point to Jesus as the Savior.
SO WHAT? (What are the underlying principles?)
- Throughout his life Jesus purposefully sought out people who were hurting, sick, or disabled. As followers of Jesus, we need to do the same.
- Jesus asked the man, "Do you want to go well?" It seems like a silly question, because of course he did. But in reality, it's sometimes easier to stay sick, or to keep sinning. Jesus wants to bring healing and transformation to our lives, but we need to want it.
- The problem of the Jewish leaders was that they practiced religion, but did not pursue a relationship with God. People today can do the same, seeking to know about God without ever really knowing God, and treating God like an intellectual pursuit instead of a personal passion. Trying to impress and earn favor, instead of trusting and surrendering.
NOW WHAT? (How will you personally apply this passage?)
- If you are a follower of Jesus, are you following him to show compassion to and help hurting people? If not, how could you do that this week?
- What's an area of your life where Jesus might ask you, "Do you want to get well?" Do you? Talk to God about that...
- Where do you see yourself practicing religion instead of passionately pursuing a relationship with God? How could you kill those religious impulses in your life and truly seek Jesus instead?