“Do you want to get well?” Seems like a strange question to ask someone who is ill, doesn’t it? But that’s the very question Jesus asked of a man who had been paralyzed for 38 years! To make matters worse, it seems his condition was the result of his own sin. It’s one thing to suffer, but quite another to know that you’ve done it to yourself. Either way, why do you think Jesus would ask such a seemingly insensitive question? Consider the man for a moment as you read this passage in John’s narrative. Rather than responding to Jesus with an obvious and enthusiastic, “Yes! I want to be healed!”, he began to make excuses as to why it wasn’t possible. He said he had no one to help him into the pool when the water was stirred by the angel. Because he was lame, someone else with a different infirmity would jump in ahead of him, and the first one to get in would be cured.
I wonder how many years that poor soul waited by the pool! John tells us that the man had no idea who Jesus even was. His eyes were fixed on the pool. He thought that, if he could just get someone to help him in that pool, he could be healed. Perhaps Jesus asked him such an insensitive question to shift his focus from the pool to the real source of healing. How often we respond with excuses like this paralytic when Jesus speaks to us. We give up hope, thinking we can never change, and we hear what seems to pierce our hearts with even greater pain, “Do you really want to be made whole?” “Do you want to get well?” Maybe we’re putting our hope in the wrong source. We’re waiting for some big event to happen or to feel some sensational experience.
Is your heart filled with bitter disappointment because you are waiting for someone – or something to happen – before you think you can change or things will get better? Not only did Jesus want to shift the man’s focus from the pool that had, for so many years, added to his disappointment, but He also wanted to offer the man hope. The implication behind Jesus’ question was plain. If you want to be made whole, you can! But how? Like this man, the moment we get our eyes on the Lord Jesus something miraculous begins to happen! Jesus told him to do three things: “Get up! Pick up your mat and walk.” Jesus healed the man through His spoken word. Warren Wiersbe said, “He commanded the man to do the very thing he was unable to do but, in His command, was the power of fulfillment.” The man received physical healing. But, an even greater healing occurred in verse 14 when John tells us, “Later Jesus found him at the temple and said to him, ‘See, you are well again. Stop sinning or something worse may happen.’” Jesus healed the man’s physical condition at the pool, but He healed his soul in the temple. Sin had caused the man’s trouble. Yet, the loving Savior looked beyond his faults and saw his need. When we look to Jesus, we find hope and healing. What a wonderful Savior!
Bible Reading: John 5:1-47 (NIV)
1 Some time later, Jesus went up to Jerusalem for a feast of the Jews.
2 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.
3 Here a great number of disabled people used to lie–the blind, the lame, the paralyzed.
5 One who was there had been an invalid for thirty-eight years.
6 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?”
7 “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.”
8 Then Jesus said to him, “Get up! Pick up your mat and walk.”
9 At once the man was cured; he picked up his mat and walked. The day on which this took place was a Sabbath,
10 and so the Jews said to the man who had been healed, “It is the Sabbath; the law forbids you to carry your mat.”
11 But he replied, “The man who made me well said to me, ‘Pick up your mat and walk.'”
12 So they asked him, “Who is this fellow who told you to pick it up and walk?”
13 The man who was healed had no idea who it was, for Jesus had slipped away into the crowd that was there.
14 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.”
15 The man went away and told the Jews that it was Jesus who had made him well.
16 So, because Jesus was doing these things on the Sabbath, the Jews persecuted him.
17 Jesus said to them, “My Father is always at his work to this very day, and I, too, am working.”
18 For this reason the Jews tried all the harder to kill him; not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God.
19 Jesus gave them this answer: “I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does.
20 For the Father loves the Son and shows him all he does. Yes, to your amazement he will show him even greater things than these.
21 For just as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, even so the Son gives life to whom he is pleased to give it.
22 Moreover, the Father judges no one, but has entrusted all judgment to the Son,
23 that all may honor the Son just as they honor the Father. He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father, who sent him.
24 “I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life.
25 I tell you the truth, a time is coming and has now come when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God and those who hear will live.
26 For as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son to have life in himself.
27 And he has given him authority to judge because he is the Son of Man.
28 “Do not be amazed at this, for a time is coming when all who are in their graves will hear his voice
29 and come out–those who have done good will rise to live, and those who have done evil will rise to be condemned.
30 By myself I can do nothing; I judge only as I hear, and my judgment is just, for I seek not to please myself but him who sent me.
31 “If I testify about myself, my testimony is not valid.
32 There is another who testifies in my favor, and I know that his testimony about me is valid.
33 “You have sent to John and he has testified to the truth.
34 Not that I accept human testimony; but I mention it that you may be saved.
35 John was a lamp that burned and gave light, and you chose for a time to enjoy his light.
36 “I have testimony weightier than that of John. For the very work that the Father has given me to finish, and which I am doing, testifies that the Father has sent me.
37 And the Father who sent me has himself testified concerning me. You have never heard his voice nor seen his form,
38 nor does his word dwell in you, for you do not believe the one he sent.
39 You diligently study the Scriptures because you think that by them you possess eternal life. These are the Scriptures that testify about me,
40 yet you refuse to come to me to have life.
41 “I do not accept praise from men,
42 but I know you. I know that you do not have the love of God in your hearts.
43 I have come in my Father’s name, and you do not accept me; but if someone else comes in his own name, you will accept him.
44 How can you believe if you accept praise from one another, yet make no effort to obtain the praise that comes from the only God?
45 “But do not think I will accuse you before the Father. Your accuser is Moses, on whom your hopes are set.
46 If you believed Moses, you would believe me, for he wrote about me.
47 But since you do not believe what he wrote, how are you going to believe what I say?”
Bible Reading: John 6:1-71 (NIV)
1 Some time after this, Jesus crossed to the far shore of the Sea of Galilee (that is, the Sea of Tiberias),
2 and a great crowd of people followed him because they saw the miraculous signs he had performed on the sick.
3 Then Jesus went up on a mountainside and sat down with his disciples.
4 The Jewish Passover Feast was near.
5 When Jesus looked up and saw a great crowd coming toward him, he said to Philip, “Where shall we buy bread for these people to eat?”
6 He asked this only to test him, for he already had in mind what he was going to do.
7 Philip answered him, “Eight months’ wages would not buy enough bread for each one to have a bite!”
8 Another of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, spoke up,
9 “Here is a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish, but how far will they go among so many?”
10 Jesus said, “Have the people sit down.” There was plenty of grass in that place, and the men sat down, about five thousand of them.
11 Jesus then took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed to those who were seated as much as they wanted. He did the same with the fish.
12 When they had all had enough to eat, he said to his disciples, “Gather the pieces that are left over. Let nothing be wasted.”
13 So they gathered them and filled twelve baskets with the pieces of the five barley loaves left over by those who had eaten.
14 After the people saw the miraculous sign that Jesus did, they began to say, “Surely this is the Prophet who is to come into the world.”
15 Jesus, knowing that they intended to come and make him king by force, withdrew again to a mountain by himself.
16 When evening came, his disciples went down to the lake,
17 where they got into a boat and set off across the lake for Capernaum. By now it was dark, and Jesus had not yet joined them.
18 A strong wind was blowing and the waters grew rough.
19 When they had rowed three or three and a half miles, they saw Jesus approaching the boat, walking on the water; and they were terrified.
20 But he said to them, “It is I; don’t be afraid.”
21 Then they were willing to take him into the boat, and immediately the boat reached the shore where they were heading.
22 The next day the crowd that had stayed on the opposite shore of the lake realized that only one boat had been there, and that Jesus had not entered it with his disciples, but that they had gone away alone.
23 Then some boats from Tiberias landed near the place where the people had eaten the bread after the Lord had given thanks.
24 Once the crowd realized that neither Jesus nor his disciples were there, they got into the boats and went to Capernaum in search of Jesus.
25 When they found him on the other side of the lake, they asked him, “Rabbi, when did you get here?”
26 Jesus answered, “I tell you the truth, you are looking for me, not because you saw miraculous signs but because you ate the loaves and had your fill.
27 Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. On him God the Father has placed his seal of approval.”
28 Then they asked him, “What must we do to do the works God requires?”
29 Jesus answered, “The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.”
30 So they asked him, “What miraculous sign then will you give that we may see it and believe you? What will you do?
31 Our forefathers ate the manna in the desert; as it is written: ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat.'”
32 Jesus said to them, “I tell you the truth, it is not Moses who has given you the bread from heaven, but it is my Father who gives you the true bread from heaven.
33 For the bread of God is he who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.”
34 “Sir,” they said, “from now on give us this bread.”
35 Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty.
36 But as I told you, you have seen me and still you do not believe.
37 All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away.
38 For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me.
39 And this is the will of him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all that he has given me, but raise them up at the last day.
40 For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day.”
41 At this the Jews began to grumble about him because he said, “I am the bread that came down from heaven.”
42 They said, “Is this not Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How can he now say, ‘I came down from heaven’?”
43 “Stop grumbling among yourselves,” Jesus answered.
44 “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him, and I will raise him up at the last day.
45 It is written in the Prophets: ‘They will all be taught by God.’ Everyone who listens to the Father and learns from him comes to me.
46 No one has seen the Father except the one who is from God; only he has seen the Father.
47 I tell you the truth, he who believes has everlasting life.
48 I am the bread of life.
49 Your forefathers ate the manna in the desert, yet they died.
50 But here is the bread that comes down from heaven, which a man may eat and not die.
51 I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.”
52 Then the Jews began to argue sharply among themselves, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?”
53 Jesus said to them, “I tell you the truth, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you.
54 Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day.
55 For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink.
56 Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in him.
57 Just as the living Father sent me and I live because of the Father, so the one who feeds on me will live because of me.
58 This is the bread that came down from heaven. Your forefathers ate manna and died, but he who feeds on this bread will live forever.”
59 He said this while teaching in the synagogue in Capernaum.
60 On hearing it, many of his disciples said, “This is a hard teaching. Who can accept it?”
61 Aware that his disciples were grumbling about this, Jesus said to them, “Does this offend you?
62 What if you see the Son of Man ascend to where he was before!
63 The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you are spirit and they are life.
64 Yet there are some of you who do not believe.” For Jesus had known from the beginning which of them did not believe and who would betray him.
65 He went on to say, “This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless the Father has enabled him.”
66 From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him.
67 “You do not want to leave too, do you?” Jesus asked the Twelve.
68 Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.
69 We believe and know that you are the Holy One of God.”
70 Then Jesus replied, “Have I not chosen you, the Twelve? Yet one of you is a devil!”
71 (He meant Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot, who, though one of the Twelve, was later to betray him.)
Bible Reading: John 7:1-53 (NIV)
1 After this, Jesus went around in Galilee, purposely staying away from Judea because the Jews there were waiting to take his life.
2 But when the Jewish Feast of Tabernacles was near,
3 Jesus’ brothers said to him, “You ought to leave here and go to Judea, so that your disciples may see the miracles you do.
4 No one who wants to become a public figure acts in secret. Since you are doing these things, show yourself to the world.”
5 For even his own brothers did not believe in him.
6 Therefore Jesus told them, “The right time for me has not yet come; for you any time is right.
7 The world cannot hate you, but it hates me because I testify that what it does is evil.
8 You go to the Feast. I am not yet going up to this Feast, because for me the right time has not yet come.”
9 Having said this, he stayed in Galilee.
10 However, after his brothers had left for the Feast, he went also, not publicly, but in secret.
11 Now at the Feast the Jews were watching for him and asking, “Where is that man?”
12 Among the crowds there was widespread whispering about him. Some said, “He is a good man.” Others replied, “No, he deceives the people.”
13 But no one would say anything publicly about him for fear of the Jews.
14 Not until halfway through the Feast did Jesus go up to the temple courts and begin to teach.
15 The Jews were amazed and asked, “How did this man get such learning without having studied?”
16 Jesus answered, “My teaching is not my own. It comes from him who sent me.
17 If anyone chooses to do God’s will, he will find out whether my teaching comes from God or whether I speak on my own.
18 He who speaks on his own does so to gain honor for himself, but he who works for the honor of the one who sent him is a man of truth; there is nothing false about him.
19 Has not Moses given you the law? Yet not one of you keeps the law. Why are you trying to kill me?”
20 “You are demon-possessed,” the crowd answered. “Who is trying to kill you?”
21 Jesus said to them, “I did one miracle, and you are all astonished.
22 Yet, because Moses gave you circumcision (though actually it did not come from Moses, but from the patriarchs), you circumcise a child on the Sabbath.
23 Now if a child can be circumcised on the Sabbath so that the law of Moses may not be broken, why are you angry with me for healing the whole man on the Sabbath?
24 Stop judging by mere appearances, and make a right judgment.”
25 At that point some of the people of Jerusalem began to ask, “Isn’t this the man they are trying to kill?
26 Here he is, speaking publicly, and they are not saying a word to him. Have the authorities really concluded that he is the Christ?
27 But we know where this man is from; when the Christ comes, no one will know where he is from.”
28 Then Jesus, still teaching in the temple courts, cried out, “Yes, you know me, and you know where I am from. I am not here on my own, but he who sent me is true. You do not know him,
29 but I know him because I am from him and he sent me.”
30 At this they tried to seize him, but no one laid a hand on him, because his time had not yet come.
31 Still, many in the crowd put their faith in him. They said, “When the Christ comes, will he do more miraculous signs than this man?”
32 The Pharisees heard the crowd whispering such things about him. Then the chief priests and the Pharisees sent temple guards to arrest him.
33 Jesus said, “I am with you for only a short time, and then I go to the one who sent me.
34 You will look for me, but you will not find me; and where I am, you cannot come.”
35 The Jews said to one another, “Where does this man intend to go that we cannot find him? Will he go where our people live scattered among the Greeks, and teach the Greeks?
36 What did he mean when he said, ‘You will look for me, but you will not find me,’ and ‘Where I am, you cannot come’?”
37 On the last and greatest day of the Feast, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink.
38 Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.”
39 By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive. Up to that time the Spirit had not been given, since Jesus had not yet been glorified.
40 On hearing his words, some of the people said, “Surely this man is the Prophet.”
41 Others said, “He is the Christ.” Still others asked, “How can the Christ come from Galilee?
42 Does not the Scripture say that the Christ will come from David’s family and from Bethlehem, the town where David lived?”
43 Thus the people were divided because of Jesus.
44 Some wanted to seize him, but no one laid a hand on him.
45 Finally the temple guards went back to the chief priests and Pharisees, who asked them, “Why didn’t you bring him in?”
46 “No one ever spoke the way this man does,” the guards declared.
47 “You mean he has deceived you also?” the Pharisees retorted.
48 “Has any of the rulers or of the Pharisees believed in him?
49 No! But this mob that knows nothing of the law–there is a curse on them.”
50 Nicodemus, who had gone to Jesus earlier and who was one of their own number, asked,
51 “Does our law condemn anyone without first hearing him to find out what he is doing?”
52 They replied, “Are you from Galilee, too? Look into it, and you will find that a prophet does not come out of Galilee.”
53 Then each went to his own home.