Sunday – May 28, 2023
Word On Worship – Sunday – May 28, 2023
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.
I have always been puzzled by the healing of the man at the pool of Bethesda. After all, the alleged “miraculous healings” at the pool of Bethesda are not like any other healing I have found in the Bible. Have you ever read of any such miracle in the Bible, where an angel somehow energizes the waters, and the first person into the water is healed? Where do we ever read of angels being involved with healings? Water is often used in healings, but such miracles are always specific—not general. Naaman was healed of his leprosy when he obeyed Elisha’s instructions to dip himself seven times in the Jordan River in 2 Kings 5.
People are healed individually and specifically, not in some kind of “whoever can get there first” manner. And would God really heal someone simply because they can push and shove and their way into the pool first? Why does Jesus ask this man if he wishes to get well? And why does the man not give a simple “Yes” in response? Instead, the man blames everyone else for failing to provide him with a healing, since no one will help him into the pool so others beat him to it. Unlike the woman at the well in chapter 4, or even Nicodemus in chapter 3, this man seems to have no spiritual insight, no theological content, and definitely no faith.
This passage is a reminder of the “weakness” of signs and wonders compared to the power of God’s Word. Signs and wonders do not necessarily produce faith, and the faith they do produce is second-class. Here, the miracle Jesus performs does not even produce faith in the one who is healed. The paralytic betrays our Lord by identifying Him to the authorities. Signs and wonders are something like street drugs or alcohol—they may produce a spectacular effect at the beginning, but as time goes on, you need more and more to produce the desired effect. Signs and wonders have a diminishing return. They are not wrong, John describes them in this Gospel to convince his readers that Jesus is the Messiah, so that men and women might believe in His name and obtain the gift of eternal life.
While signs seem to produce fewer and fewer saints, the word of the Lord is mighty. Jesus does not need the angel-troubled waters of the pool of Bethesda to heal the paralytic. He does not even need the faith of this disabled man. All that is required is His word. At His command, the man who has been disabled for 38 years gets up and walks—not only walks, but carries his bed with him. He who is the Word, the Logos, who created the world with a word, is the One who heals with but a word. We should thus heed His words, for they are spirit and life (John 6:63).