Verse of the Day Devotion:  John 5:8 

“Jesus said to him, Arise, take up your pallet, and walk.” – John 5:8   

Over the next week we will be looking at seven miraculous signs performed by Jesus as recorded in the Gospel of John.  These signs show that Jesus was not just some ordinary man but was truly the Son of God.  Today we will look at the third sign which is the healing at the Pool of Bethesda on the Sabbath.

We are entering a time in chapters three thru five that lay out a shift from mere reservation and hesitation about Jesus to outright and sometimes official opposition to Him. The first point of controversy regards the Sabbath.  In chapter five we see that Jesus went into Jerusalem when the people were preparing for a feast to celebrate this import day. In Jerusalem, by the sheep gate, there was a pool named Bethesda, Bethesda being Aramaic for ‘House of Mercy’, where many would wait for healing. “In these lay a multitude of those who were sick, blind, lame, and withered, [waiting for the moving of the waters; for an angel of the Lord went down at certain seasons into the pool, and stirred up the water; whoever then first, after the stirring up of the water, stepped in was made well from whatever disease with which he was afflicted.]” John 5:4-5. Those who were sick or disabled would lie there, for as long as needed, for an angel to stir up the waters, then they would race to the water, for the first one to enter would be healed. Now, an interesting point is that the pool of Bethesda was used to provide water for the temple.

Now there was a man who had been sick for thirty-eight years. When Jesus came to the water, He had compassion on this man. “When Jesus saw him lying there, and knew that he had already been a long time in that condition, He said to him, Do you wish to get well?”  The sick man then answers, “Sir, I have no man to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up, but while I am coming another steps down before me.” John 5:7. The answer this man gives is a sad one.  He was there for he greatly wanted to be healed.  However, being disabled he was unable to get up and go into the water himself, and there was no friend there with him that could help him into the stirred-up waters.  By the time he would have reached the water, someone else had already beaten him to it.

However, Jesus then responds to his answer by telling him, in our focus verse, “Arise, take up your pallet, and walk.” John 5:8.  Jesus showed compassion for him, but He provided the healing to him in a surprising way. He simply told the man to get up, taking his pallet with him, and walk.  “And immediately the man became well and took up his pallet and began to walk.” John 5:9a.  I tend to think this was a complete shock to the man, however in faith he followed Jesus’ command.  We read of a similar incident where Jesus is talking and an invalid is lowered through the roof for Jesus to heal.  And Jesus uses the same wording to that man as He did with man at the pool. “And they came, bringing to Him a paralytic, carried by four men. And being unable to get to Him because of the crowd, they removed the roof above Him; and when they had dug an opening, they let down the pallet on which the paralytic was lying.” Mark 2:3-4.  Then, in healing the man, He said, “I say to you, rise, take up your pallet and go home.” Mark 2:11.

After this, the Jews came to this man. “It is the Sabbath, and it is not permissible for you to carry your pallet.” John 5:10.  “But he answered them, He who made me well was the one who said to me, Take up your pallet and walk. They asked him, Who is the man who said to you, take up your pallet, and walk?” John 5:11-12.  They were upset that the man followed the leading of someone to break the Sabbath law by carrying the pallet.  However, this man did not know who it was that told him to pick up his pallet and walk. However, in a later verse, “Afterward Jesus found him in the temple, and said to him, “Behold, you have become well; do not sin anymore, so that nothing worse may befall you. The man went away and told the Jews that it was Jesus who had made him well.” John 5:14-15.   

This was a sign to the Jewish leadership that He was more than just a simple man, but that He had authority over them. He told them, “But He answered them, My Father is working until now, and I Myself am working.” John 5:17 For this reason, the Jewish leaders were trying even harder to kill Him, because not only was He breaking the Sabbath, but He was also calling God His own Father, thus making Himself equal with God. It did not occur to them that because a remarkable healing had taken place, they ought to glorify God for it. No, the only thing that troubled them was Jesus’ transgression of the Sabbath (as they had decreed it should be kept). The problem, of course, was that they were so wedded to the traditions with which they had overlaid the law that they could see nothing else. They were infuriated that someone had upset their cozy little empire, especially one who declared Himself the Son of God.

William Funkhouser MDiv, ThD, Founder and President of True Devotion Ministries. 

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