C. Evidence of the disabled man (Jn 5:1-9):
This is a case of a surprised healing. The myth of the day was that an angel on occasion supposedly came down and stirred the waters of the pool of Bethesda. The one to be first in the water after it was stirred by a visiting angel, would be healed.
(Many manuscripts do not include verse 4. It is not included because it is supposed that it was added later by some scribe in order to explain to John’s readers, who were primarily Gentiles outside the region of Palestine, why there was this belief in reference to the waters of Bethesda.)
Nevertheless, the disabled man was there with others, and the common belief, which we suppose was psychosomatic, was that he would be made well of a thirty-eight-year afflliction if he could only be the first in the water after its stirring.
So Jesus asked a question that had an obvious answer: “Do you want to be made whole?” (Jn 5:6). We suppose that the question was asked simply to gain the attention of the man, for there were others there also who desired to be healed. This particular man did not know who Jesus was (Jn 5:13). He may have known of Jesus, but he did not know him by facial recognition.
After Jesus had asked the question concerning his willingness to be healed, Jesus simply stated, “Rise, take up your bed and walk” (Jn 5:8). There were no theatrical performances on the part of Jesus. There were no crowd-gathering speeches, and call for attention. There was not even a statement to be healed. Jesus simply made the statement that he take up his bed and walk. The deed was done, and realized only when the man stood up. This is something far different from those today who conduct fake healings in order to spread fake news of their deceptive works. We must never underestimate the desire for notoriety among those who presume to fake true confirming signs.
John’s account of the event reads, “And immediately the man was made whole” (Jn 5:9). When a true confirming miracle took place, the result was immediate and perceived real by the beholders. Thirty-eight years of infirmity came to an end in a moment. The disabled man was healed with only a statement to take up his bed and walk. There was no command to be healed.
Because of the length of the infirmity, the man was well-known throughout the region. Many had passed by and given him either food or money. Because of the immediate nature of the healing, the impact of the healing was made known to everyone who knew him. The man was not told to go home, and that he would eventually get better. The result was instantaneous, and the impact on the people who knew him was also instantaneous.
Because the man did not know who it was who healed him, we assume from John’s listing of this miracle that Jesus wanted us to know that there was no psychosomatic nature about His healing of this man and others. In other words, the healed were not hypnotically convinced in their minds that they were healed, and then three days later they recovered from some hypnotic trance of being healed. They were not healed during a hysterical meeting, and then “unhealed” days later when they were at home and recovered from the emotional hysteria of the moment.
John records this healing in order to convince us that Jesus did not heal because He was an accepted “healer” of the day, or one who generated emotional hysteria in the minds of those He healed. He wanted us to understand that the personality of Jesus was not used to convince people that they were healed. For the one who was healed, especially on this occasion, was surprised. The man did not request to be healed. Upon the pronouncement of Jesus, therefore, he discovered that thirty-eight years of being crippled had immediately gone away. It was a surprise. The healing was not only of the bones of his legs, but also the strengthening of his muscles, for he took up his bed and walked away (Jn 5:9).
After the healing, Jesus slipped away from the startled crowd (Jn 5:13). However, when He knew He could have a more private conversation with the man, He sought him out in the temple courtyard (Jn 5:14). It was during this personal encounter with the healed man that Jesus encouraged him to live contrary to a sinful way of life (Jn 5:14). And then what happened was what Jesus evidently intended to happen: “The man departed and told the Jews that it was Jesus who had made him whole” (Jn 5:15). And now, this news provoked the Jewish religious leaders to come searching for Jesus, which thing Jesus wanted. For this was a “feast of the Jews” when Jews of those times made a journey to Jerusalem, possibly on this occasion for the Passover/Pentecost feast (Jn 5:1). It was during this feast that Jesus wanted His name to be taken back home to nations throughout the Roman Empire. He wanted everyone who heard what He had done in reference to the healing of the impotent man to be broadcast throughout the nations.
[I will be back tomorrow on the same subject.]