Introduction: People often ask me to pray for them to be healed or
helped. Some who I pray for are healed. Others are not. On what basis
does God choose who to heal? John 5 gives us some insights into this
issue and into the power of God. Let’s jump into our study and see
what we can learn!

  1. Unexpected Joy

    1. Read John 5:1. Jesus is back in Jerusalem. Why did He
      return to Jerusalem? (It was for a religious festival. We
      don’t know which one.)

    2. Read John 5:2. What is a “covered colonnade?” (These are
      covered porches or platforms. My bet is that this was a
      pretty place. A pool surrounded by covered porches creates
      a nice picture in my mind.)

    3. Read John 5:3. As a practical matter was it a pretty
      place? Would you want to just hang around the pool? (No.
      If you were out for a stroll to take in beauty, you would
      want to avoid this place because it was filled with
      suffering people. Imagine walking through a hospital for

    4. You may notice that the NIV, along with some other
      translations, omits the last part of verse 3 and all of
      verse 4 that is found in the King James and other
      translations. That omission is because the earliest, most
      reliable manuscripts do not contain this language. How
      would you explain John 5:7 without the explanation in
      verse 4? (That is probably why some scribe added this
      language – to explain the tradition at Bethesda.)

      1. From time to time I get “beat up” about the fact the
        NIV “left out part of the Bible!” Consider the
        theology of what has been “left out.” Is it
        consistent with God’s character to heal only the most
        nimble of the disabled?

    5. Read John 5:5-7. Put yourself in this man’s place.

      1. What hope does he have for the future? (If he can get
        into the water before anyone else when it is (v.7)
        “stirred,” he believes he can be healed. However, his
        odds of getting in first are nil.)

      2. What kind of a support system does he have? (None.)

      3. What kind of mental attitude does he have?

        1. When you are sick, how do you like hanging
          around with other sick people?

    1. Let’s focus on Jesus’ question in verse 6. On the surface,
      the question seems pretty dumb to me. On the assumption
      that Jesus does not ask dumb questions, and dumb questions
      do not get recorded in the Bible, how do you explain this
      question? (Jesus wanted to focus this fellow’s attention
      on being healed.)

      1. Is verse 7 an answer to Jesus’ question? (No. Jesus
        asked the man what he wanted. The man replied with
        what was possible.)

    2. Read John 5:8-9a. This ties up some loose ends in our
      discussion so far. Let’s go through those points.

      1. We see God in action here. Has Jesus picked the most
        nimble to heal? (No. The suggestion in verse 4 (the
        omitted language) is directly contradicted by Jesus’
        actions in verses 8-9. Jesus has picked the most
        hopeless person to heal. The fact that some scribe
        meant well by adding a note to the manuscript is no
        reason for us to accept “junk theology.” Something
        was going on at that pool, but it is doubtful God was
        doing it.)

      2. Jesus asked the man what he wanted and he responded
        with what was possible. What was possible? (The
        possible was beyond his imagination.)

        1. Are you like that man? Does Jesus offer great
          things to you and you respond with your limited
          view of what is possible?

      3. Isn’t faith necessary for healing? (In Matthew 9:22
        we hear Jesus saying to the woman He has healed,
        “your faith has healed you.”)

        1. What faith do we see in this fellow?

  1. The Sabbath Violation?

    1. Read John 5:9b-10, 16-18. The man had been sick for 38
      years. Healing him was not exactly a national emergency.
      Why did Jesus heal him on the Sabbath? Why did Jesus tell
      him to carry his mat on Sabbath? (Of course, none of this
      was necessary on the Sabbath. Jesus must have been making
      a point about the Sabbath.)

      1. What point is that? What is Jesus teaching us in John
        5:17? (At a minimum, Jesus is teaching us that the
        Jewish leaders did not have a correct view of the
        Sabbath. Doing good on the Sabbath was completely
        consistent with the spirit of the day. Jesus says
        that His Father and He are always working on Sabbath.
        The fact that this is a “God-thing” does not explain
        why the healed guy was carrying his mat. The lesson
        for us goes beyond what is appropriate for God.)

        1. Compare Genesis 2:2-3 with John 5:17. Does God
          the Father not keep the Sabbath? Did He
          previously keep the Sabbath, but gave it up?
          (Actually, God does not keep the Sabbath – at
          least at some level. God still gives us life,
          holds the planets in orbit, powers the universe
          and pays attention to us seven days a week. If
          we are sick or injured, our bodies continue to
          heal through the power of God on the Sabbath.
          What Jesus did, according to George MacDonald,
          was to do instantly on Sabbath what His Father
          is always doing at a slower pace. I think the
          lesson in comparing Genesis 2 and John 5 is the
          point made in Mark 2:27: the Sabbath was made
          for man.)

    2. Why did Jesus heal only one person out of this entire
      group of disabled people? He could have had a field day
      doing good work on the Sabbath! Why miss out? (E.G.
      White’s book, The Desire of Ages (p.201), suggests that
      healing everyone on Sabbath would have so incensed the
      Jewish leaders that Jesus’ work would have been cut

      1. If this is true, what does it teach us about God?
        What does it teach us about ourselves? (God is
        pragmatic. He considers the “big picture” and makes
        decisions based on it. Perhaps the most important
        lesson is to disabuse you of your view that
        everything is “about you.” Some may say, “Healing
        people is the most important thing.” But this is not
        true. God’s plans and purposes are the most important
        thing. “Everything” is about God and His plans, and
        not about us.)

  2. Stop Sinning!

    1. Read John 5:11-14. What does this suggest was the source
      of the man’s health problems? (His actions.)

      1. Jesus says to him “stop sinning.” Since we all sin,
        what do you think Jesus meant?

        1. If you say that this man was involved in some
          specific sin which caused his disability, how do
          you explain Jesus’ words in John 9:1-3 and Luke
          13:1-5? (The most obvious answer is that our
          sins sometimes cause sickness and sometimes do
          not. William Barclay suggests in his commentary
          on John (p. 183) that the Jews believed that a
          person could not be cured without first being
          forgiven of sin. Jesus wanted this man to know
          that his healing did not “cure” his sin problem.
          Jesus warned him to be sure he understood that
          his sin problem had not been resolved and that
          he should take his sin problem seriously.)

  3. Fully God

    1. Re-read John 5:16-18. We read of uninformed people who say
      “I believe Jesus was a very good man.” Or, “I believe in
      Jesus as a prophet.” What did those who listened to Jesus
      understand Him to say about His status? (They understood
      Him to say He was equal with God.)

      1. If Jesus is not fully God and fully man, what is He?
        (This is one of those hard-edged truths. If you do
        not believe Jesus is God, then either you are not
        paying attention to what He said, or you must believe
        He was a liar or mentally ill. It is one or the
        other. Either He was right or He was a nut. Only the
        ignorant occupy the middle ground on this.)

    2. Read John 5:21-25. What is promised to those who hear the
      words of Jesus and believe that God the Father has given
      Jesus the power of eternal life? (They are promised
      eternal life.)

    3. Friend, this is what we do each week. By studying the
      Bible we “hear” the words of Jesus. The next step to
      eternal life is belief. Will you believe and thus cross
      over from death to life?

  4. Next Week: The Sacred and the Common.