Scripture reading – Mark 2, John 5

Today’s Scripture reading is Mark 2 and John 5. The focus of the devotional will be John 5:1-16.

John 5

We find Jesus and His disciples returning to Jerusalem for the Passover, as was their custom (5:1). Making His way to the Temple, the LORD passed through the sheep gate (notice the word “market” is in italics and was added by translators). The setting of the Scripture was a pool of water (5:2), located near the “sheep gate” (the same through which sheep were led into the city and to the Temple Mount to be sacrificed). The pool was called, “Bethesda,” meaning “House of Mercy” (5:2), and was shaded by five porches. As He passed the pool, Jesus gazed upon a “a great multitude of impotent folk [sick; feeble], of blind, halt [lame], withered [shrunken limb]” (5:3).

Why was this crowd of suffering souls waiting at the pool of water called Bethesda?

John wrote, they were “waiting for the moving of the water. 4For an angel went down at a certain season into the pool, and troubled the water: whosoever then first after the troubling of the water stepped in was made whole of whatsoever disease he had” (5:4).

In the midst of this great crowd of needy souls was a man afflicted with an ailment for 38 years (5:5). He was described as having an “infirmity,” and was suffering from a chronic, debilitating disease (some suggest a stroke). Remembering the LORD knows all men, and what lies within the hearts of men (2:24-25), He took pity on him and asked, Wilt thou be made whole [sound]?

The man answered the LORD, saying, “Sir, I have no man, when the water is troubled, to put me into the pool: but while I am coming, another steppeth down before me” (5:7). Thirty-eight years he had been afflicted, and I presume his family, loved ones, and friends had no hope of his recovery. There was none who waited to assist him to the healing waters when they were stirred. Those who shared similar afflictions showed him no mercy, and would not defer their distress, to prefer the man who had suffered so long.

I invite you to consider three divine attributes Jesus displayed on that Sabbath day. The first, His Omniscience: He “saw” the man and knew not only how long he had been afflicted, but the reason for his suffering (the LORD later warned him, “sin no more, lest a worse thing come unto thee,” 5:14).

Consider also the Grace of God Jesus demonstrated for the man. When the LORD asked, “Wilt thou be made whole?” (5:6c), the man answered with a despairing grievance, “I have no man” (5:7). Yet, the LORD had compassion for him, though there were many others who suffered. He was no more deserving than others, yet, it was grace, not merit that moved Jesus to heal him.

Jesus also displayed Omnipotence and divine authority over sickness and disease. When He commanded the man, “Rise, take up thy bed, and walk” (5:8), “immediately [he] was made whole, and took up his bed, and walked” (5:9). Thirty-eight years he had suffered, and with the power of Jesus’ spoken Word, he was made whole.

Closing thoughts (5:9-16) – There is much more to this story, and events that occurred that Sabbath day (5:9). As the man who was healed passed through the Temple grounds, he was accosted by some Jews for carrying his bed on the Sabbath (the same bed on which he had lain for 38 years). Wonder how many times those men passed that poor man when he waited at the pool of Bethesda? Adding to their hypocrisy, rather than rejoice with the man’s healing, they set their hearts to persecute Jesus when they learned it was He who had healed the man. They “sought to slay Him,” because He healed him “on the Sabbath day” (5:16).

Lest we be hypocritical ourselves, consider how many hurting people we pass in a day. How many do we walk pass and show no pity or compassion for their sorrows? Are we sensitive to the troubles borne by others? Are there some who know us, and would say, “I have no man who cares for my soul?”

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