As we discussed briefly previously there are seven ‘signs’ recorded in John’s Gospel, intended to reveal to those who witnessed them that Jesus was the living revelation of God Himself and that only through Him could they find salvation. Today we will look in more detail at the third of these signs, the curing of the paralysed man.
Read John 5:1-17
What do we make of the first few verses of this passage, in particular this idea of the ‘healing angel’?
- Whether this was some kind of myth or superstition or whether those sick people who stepped into the pool at the right time were cured, we do not know for certain. However, the fact that so many gathered by the pool – they obviously believed this.
- Would God send an angel in this way?
What does this remind us of today – and what are our views on Angels?
What do we think of verses 5 and 6, why are they so important and why does Jesus ask him if he wants to be made well?
- After 38 years the man’s illness had effectively become a way of life for him.
- All this time he had never been able to work but survived by begging. If he was healed his begging days would be over and he would have to work to get by. Would he want to?
- Maybe he felt his situation was now hopeless and that no-one would be able to help him.
- Yet still he goes to this pool, why? Surely this indicates that he still has hope of recovery.
How does our faith and hope hold out in terms of adversity and hardship?
What can we learn from verses 7 and 8?
- No matter how trapped or helpless we might feel, no matter how hopeless the future might look, if we truly believe in Christ, God can minister to our deepest needs.
- It may not always involve a physical cure as it did with this man, but a sense of peace and reconciliation within our hearts, that God can and will still use us in His service.
Do we truly believe all of this in our own hearts?
What do the remaining verses of this passage teach us?
- According to the Pharisees, carrying your mat, i.e. your bed, on the Sabbath day was work, therefore it was unlawful.
- It did not break any specific laws within the Torah, but the Pharisees interpretation of, ‘remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy’, was what made it unlawful.
Was this really unlawful? And what does this say to us today about our own interpretation of God’s commandments? Are we sometimes as guilty as the Pharisees – Are our guidelines for the way we live truly God made, or have we added to or taken bits from them?
- This curing of the paralysed man was a great miracle, but whilst he could now walk, this man need an even greater miracle, he needed spiritual healing and to have his sins forgiven. Hence Jesus words to him in verse 14.
- God’s gift of forgiveness through Christ is the greatest gift that any of us can receive, but we have to accept this gracious gift by seeking to turn from our sins.
- Despite what they witnessed here, as far as the Pharisees were concerned, the only issue at hand was the breaking of their rules.
The Pharisees shut their eyes and their hearts to the work of God. But perhaps we need to ask ourselves, are we ever guilty of doing likewise today?