Because most philosophies that frown on reproduction don't survive.

Monday, April 08, 2019

Do You Want to be Well?

Notes on reading John chapter 5: Jesus heals the man at the pool of Bethesda (or Bethsaida).
After this, there was a feast of the Jews, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem.

Now there is in Jerusalem at the Sheep [Gate] a pool called in Hebrew Bethesda, with five porticoes. In these lay a large number of ill, blind, lame, and crippled. One man was there who had been ill for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him lying there and knew that he had been ill for a long time, he said to him, “Do you want to be well?” The sick man answered him, “Sir, I have no one to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up; while I am on my way, someone else gets down there before me.” Jesus said to him, “Rise, take up your mat, and walk.” Immediately the man became well, took up his mat, and walked.

Now that day was a sabbath. So the Jews said to the man who was cured, “It is the sabbath, and it is not lawful for you to carry your mat.” He answered them, “The man who made me well told me, ‘Take up your mat and walk.’” They asked him, “Who is the man who told you, ‘Take it up and walk’?” The man who was healed did not know who it was, for Jesus had slipped away, since there was a crowd there. After this Jesus found him in the temple area and said to him, “Look, you are well; do not sin any more, so that nothing worse may happen to you.” The man went and told the Jews that Jesus was the one who had made him well. Therefore, the Jews began to persecute Jesus because he did this on a sabbath. But Jesus answered them, “My Father is at work until now, so I am at work.” For this reason the Jews tried all the more to kill him, because he not only broke the sabbath but he also called God his own father, making himself equal to God.
When Jesus asks the man if he wants to be healed, the man does not say "yes" or give a direct answer. He has an ready explanation, a sad story about how he's a victim in all this.

But he obeys Jesus outwardly.

Jesus knows this guy is going to be trouble. He seeks him out -- he could have left him alone -- and warns him about falling into sin, about continuing in sin, that nothing worse may befall him.

The man goes and tattles on Jesus to the pious authorities -- again, an outwardly religious action, but one with evil results, since the authorities persecuted and wanted to kill Jesus.

Immediately after the story, verse 19: "The Son can do nothing of his own accord, but only what he sees the Father doing; for whatever he does, that the Son does likewise." We've just seen the Son healing and warning, having a direct personal encounter with the sick man. He doesn't offer the man platitudes or generic hellfire, but sees right into his soul and gives him a very specific warning tailored to his personality: "See you are well! Sin no more, that nothing worse may befall you." He knows this man, knows that physical healing has left his soul like a room swept clean and put in order but uninhabited (Luke 11:25). And immediately after this personal encounter, Jesus's unforced revelation of himself to the man, the man betrays him -- for what? For prestige? It can hardly be to escape punishment from the authorities, so it must be to curry favor or to establish himself as a right thinker.

The Son as mirror of the Father: Jesus repeatedly emphasizes that the Son does only the will of the Father. Do you want to know the mind of God? Read the gospels; study Jesus.

Verses 25-29: Jesus speaks of the hour when the dead will hear the voice of the Son and live. "For just as the the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son also to have life in himself." Sounds like a prophecy of the resurrection. Death has no power over the Son because he has life in himself. He hears his own voice and comes forth from the tomb. (v. 28).

1 comment:

Agnes said...

I always thought the healed man naive rather than malicious in telling the authorities about Jesus. It was the Jews' fault what they did with the information. Also, at that point, Jesus did no try to hide or to avoid confrontation with the religious elders. But I can see your point too.