by Evi Rodemann
(Editor’s note: With this blog post we continue our series, “The Stories within the Story.” Each article will include how to use specific passages and stories in scripture in gospel witness.”
“Sometime later, Jesus went up to Jerusalem for one of the Jewish festivals. Now there is in Jerusalem near the Sheep Gate a pool, which in Aramaic is called Bethesda and which is surrounded by five covered colonnades. Here a great number of disabled people used to lie—the blind, the lame, the paralyzed. One who was there had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him lying there and learned that he had been in this condition for a long time, he asked him, ‘Do you want to get well?’
‘Sir,’ the invalid replied, ‘I have no one to help me into the pool when the water is stirred. While I am trying to get in, someone else goes down ahead of me.’ Then Jesus said to him, ‘Get up! Pick up your mat and walk.’ At once the man was cured; he picked up his mat and walked. The day on which this took place was a Sabbath, and so the Jewish leaders said to the man who had been healed, ‘It is the Sabbath; the law forbids you to carry your mat.’
But he replied, ‘The man who made me well said to me, “Pick up your mat and walk.”’ So they asked him, ‘Who is this fellow who told you to pick it up and walk?’ The man who was healed had no idea who it was, for Jesus had slipped away into the crowd that was there.
Later Jesus found him at the temple and said to him, ‘See, you are well again. Stop sinning or something worse may happen to you.’ The man went away and told the Jewish leaders that it was Jesus who had made him well.” (John 5:1-15)
We find Jesus performing his third miracle in John 5. It was the healing of a blind man at a pool in Jerusalem. The first miracle happened when Jesus converted water to wine; the second one took place when Jesus healed the son of a royal official.
Jesus entered Jerusalem and He saw the following scene before Him: a crowd of disabled people lay there—the blind, the lame, the paralyzed. The text does not say what they were all waiting for, but at the time it was believed that once the water would be stirred (perhaps through an angel), people would get healed. Miracles must have happened, but they were not attributed to something godly.
Here, Jesus healed a blind man who had been blind for 38 years. Jesus heard about him, approached him, and asked, “Do you want to get well?”
All this paralyzed man knew up to this point had been a life of not being able to move. He had no sense purpose. In fact, the length of his suffering demonstrated Jesus supernatural power.
The Bible says that at once the man was cured. It happened without entering the water. Jesus simply said, “Get up! Pick up your mat and walk!” and “at once the man was cured; he picked up his mat and walked.”
“At once” demonstrated Jesus’ power to complete a task to its end. Complete healing, not just part healing.
And so the man picked up his mat and walked. He had no clue who this Jesus was. In fact, when he was later questioned by the Pharisees, he blamed the healing on the Sabbath on Jesus. But nevertheless, the man acted upon the words of Jesus. We don´t read of any faith involved, except Jesus being the ultimate faith. Healing was possible because someone else believed for this man.
Later, Jesus met the man once more in the temple among the thousands of visitors. He once more took the initiative upon Himself, saying to the man “stop sinning or something worse may happen to you.” Jesus had dealt with his physical suffering, now it was about the man´s spirituality.
Below are some things to consider about this story:
- We all need to be on the lookout for people, seeing them in need and approaching them, asking, “Do you want to get well?” We need to take the first step, even though it may be difficult. Evangelism is in word and deed. It is not about waiting for others to approach us.
- We need to ask, “Where have I not taken Jesus by his word lately?” Perhaps there is something that I should reflect on and say, “Jesus, I will take you by your word. I will act upon what you have told me. I will pick up my mat and walk away from the things that paralyze me in life.”
- We need to look for situations around us where people might lack faith but we can trust on their behalf and ask Jesus to be present, real, and miraculous.
- We need to look at our own situations and ask, “What kind of situation am I facing right now, where people need both kinds of healings—physical and spiritual? Have I become one-sided in my ministry?”
Evi Rodemann (@erodemann) is executive director of the European youth mission movement and congress called Mission-Net. She loves young Europeans and seeing them discover and use their God-given calling in this world gives her the greatest joy.