28 – Jesus Heals a Lame Man
Where: Jerusalem, Judea
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On the Sabbath following the Festival of Weeks, Jesus left the Jerusalem temple through the Sheep Gate, once called the Gate of Benjamin, which is to the northeast of the city. The road led past two pools [model] with five “decks” (four around the two pools, and one between them) with many beautiful pillars. The combined pools were about 100 yards long and about 50 yards wide with a 20 foot thick wall between them. They were the pools of Bethesda. Behind the two “fancy” pools were other pools [model] that were accessible to the common folks.
The water that supplied the pools came rushing in whenever the pressure in the limestone hills built up sufficiently. It was believed that when this water rushed in, the first person to enter the water might be cured of an ailment. Therefore it was common to see folks with ailments lying around the pools. And it was also a very good place to beg.
Jesus approached a man who, for the last 38 years, had been alone with his suffering because he could not walk [this was the same number of years that Israel had been wandering in the desert]. The man made his living by begging folks for mercy [gifts of money] in the name of God. He had been dependent upon God’s mercy most of his life [just as Israel had been dependent upon God’s mercy in the desert]. So Jesus asked the man if he wanted to be healed or whether he was satisfied to continue begging. A tough choice! If he were able to walk he would have to work for a living in his old age.
But the man was truly serious about wanting to be healed. Seeing that the man really wanted to be well, Jesus gave him an opportunity to have faith. Jesus told him to stand up, take his mat, and walk home. The man “took a chance” and trusted Jesus. He stood up and walked away, just as Israel had trusted God and entered into the “promised land”.
But to do work, such as to carry a mat, on the Sabbath, was a violation of the Torah because God had rested on the Sabbath. When the religious authorities confronted the man for his lawless behavior, he responded by simply saying that he was told to do it in order to be healed. ‘If a prophet tells me to do something, even on the Sabbath, I will do it,’ he thought. When asked who healed him the man admitted that he did not know, but later found out that it was Jesus and began to tell folks. The authorities became more and more hostile to Jesus for his violation of the Sabbath.
‘You can be sure that I am sent by God to bring you a message,’ said Jesus. ‘First John the Baptizer called you to repent and change your ways. Now I am calling you to consider the fact that the Law will be your judge when the “day of judgment” comes’.
Jesus was asking the religious leaders to change their thinking. God was acting in a new way to bring about their salvation. The Law would not save them, they needed to trust Jesus and have faith in God’s Word.
The next day Jesus began his return journey to Galilee.
No questions have been asked yet.