• Kim Feld

2021_11_01 Insight Post- Kim Feld

This week's reading- John 5-6

The first story told in John chapter 5 is Jesus healing a man who had a disability for 38 years. The man was lying by the pool of Bethesda, which supposedly had healing powers when the water bubbled up. John tells us that a significant number of people suffering from disabilities were there around the pool. Jesus sees the man, knows that he has suffered for many years, and asks him if he wants to be healed.

Many things in this story leave me wanting more information and, to be honest, that I struggle to understand. First, John only mentions Jesus healing this one man, although John makes a point to let us know that many others in need of healing are there. Did Jesus heal others, but John only recorded this one? We don’t know, but it’s possible. Or it could be precisely as John recorded it, and Jesus had a divine appointment with this man.

In other instances of Jesus’ healing, they have come in response to a request, but this one seems different. John records it as though Jesus saw the man and approached him, asking if he wanted to be well. It’s possible the man was begging, and Jesus’ question came to him in response to the man’s request for money. Again, we don’t know. But we know that Jesus’ question to the man is not met with an immediate “yes!” which you would expect from a man who had been crippled for 38 years. Instead, the man responds with the excuse of others always getting ahead of him. The man must have had faith in Jesus’ ability to heal him because when Jesus gives him the command to get up and pick up his mat, he obeys.

The last thing that is puzzling to me is when Jesus approaches the man the second time and warns him to stop sinning, or something worse than being crippled could happen, it seems that Jesus knows much more about this man than John shares with us. Previously, Jesus has told the disciples that someone’s sin does not cause illness as they believed, but in this instance, Jesus seems to be making a connection. Then, we see the man after his second exchange with Jesus telling the Jewish leaders that Jesus was the one who healed him. Doesn’t seem like the response of the gratefully healed.

Here are a couple of takeaways for me from this story. First, once again, I see that Jesus’ ways are not always easy for me to understand because I can only see a small part of the story. God says in Isaiah 55:9: “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”

Second, this story calls me to search my life for areas that Jesus is offering me healing, but I’m giving Him excuses for why I need to remain where I am. That’s a tough one, but Jesus wants to free us from everything that holds us back. The author of Hebrews encourages us in chapter 12, verse 1:

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.”

Verse two of that chapter gives us the way to do it – by fixing our eyes on Jesus. Jesus asks you and me the same question he asked this man: “Do you want to get well?

Kim Feld

Executive Director of Education and Outreach