The Cripple By The Pool
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John 5:1 – Which Feast?
• Three of the feasts required attendance (Ex 23:14):
– Passover (Ex 23:15; Lev 23:4-14).
– Weeks (Ex 23:16; Lev 23:11, 15-17)
– Ingathering, or Tabernacles (Ex 23:16; Lev 23:34-43).
• Other suggestions include Trumpets (Lev 23:24, 25).
• But John calls the passover a feast of the Jews (RSV):
– 2:13 ... “The passover of the Jews ...”
– 6:4 ... “The passover, the feast of the Jews ...”
– Only other time a feast is called a Jewish feast is in John 7:2 –
referring to the Feast of Tabernacles.
• So we’ll assume John 5 was a passover, the 2nd of 4 in
John, thus justifying a 3 1/2 year ministry for the Lord.
2
Cripple By Pool
Centurion’s
Servant
Epileptic
Child
The Man
with Dropsy
Woman Taken
in Adultery
Fourth Passover, Thu, Apr 4; Jesus 33/34
January 1, AD30
Tabernacles
Transfiguration
Third Passover; Jesus 32/33
January 1, AD29
Sermon on Mount
Second Passover; Jesus 31/32
January 1, AD28
First Passover; Jesus 30/31
January 1, AD27
Ministry begins; Jesus about 30
A Time-Line for Jesus’ Ministry
Zacchaeus
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“The Jews” in John

In John’s gospel, “the Jews”
may mean different things:
1 Any descendant of Jacob.
For example, John 4:9, 22.
2 The Jewish establishment, the sanhedrin, or its sympathisers.
For example, cp John 11:46-53 with John 18:12, 14, 31.

This is the usual meaning of “the Jews” in John’s gospel.

“The Jews” often means the Pharisees. Cp John 11:46, 47; 18:14.
3 In a few cases it may mean an inhabitant of Judæa or Jerusalem.

For example, John 7:1; 11:54.

This application is difficult to distinguish from number 2, above.
4
Bethesda / Bethzatha

A pool near to Jerusalem’s Sheep
Gate.

Called Bethzatha in RSV.

Called Bethesda in KJV and NIV.

NIV footnote: “Some manuscripts
Bethzatha; others Bethsaida.”

Bethesda: House of mercy;
Bethzatha: house of olives; Bethsaida: house of fishing.

Bethzatha: A variant spelling for Bezetha - the
name of that part of Jerusalem that lies north of the temple
mount.
5
5
Sheep/Lions/
St Stephen’s
Gate

In the eastern wall
of Jerusalem

North of the
temple mount
6
Bethzatha Pool

Scholar’s model.

View looking southwest, showing the
Tower of Antonia

And Herod’s Temple

An 1888 Excavation in NE Jerusalem uncovered a
5-porch pool with angel and water fresco.

It may have been the pool of Bethesda.
7
Text of John 5:3b, 4

NAB has a footnote: “Toward the end of
the second century in the West and
among the 4th century Greek
Fathers, an additional verse
was known:


“For [from time to time] an angel
of the Lord used to come down
into the pool; and the water was
stirred up, so the first one to get in [after the stirring of the
water] was healed of whatever disease afflicted him.”
This verse is missing from all early Greek manuscripts
and the earliest versions, including the original
Vulgate.”
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Troubling of The Water


Modern versions omit John 5:3b, 4. However:

If spurious, at least the cripple thought the water
had power to heal. See John 5:7
(which is not contested).

Some disturbance of the water is
implied for otherwise why were the
sick folk merely waiting by the pool?

If the curative powers were in the
water (rather than its disturbance),
why should it matter to the cripple if another should step in before
him?
In which case:

Did an angel really stir up the water?

Or should the text read, “For it is said that an angel went down at a
certain season ...”?
9
There Were Many Sick Folk ...
• But the Lord chose only one ...
– So his purpose must have been to teach!
– The cripple had been unable to rise for 38 years.
• Is this a reflection of Israel’s 38 years in the wilderness? –
Deut 2:14 (cp 2 Chron 16:12, 13)
• The Lord went on to discuss resurrection – John 5:21-29.
• So the man may be regarded as representing
Israel’s prostration due to sin – see John 5:14.
• The healing showed Jesus’ power to deliver from
sin (vs 14) and to fulfil, for example, Ezek 37.
10
Preconditions for Healing
• Prostrated by Sin (vss 6, 14).
• Chronic condition (vs 6).
• “Do you want to be healed?” (vs 6,
RSV).
– Salvation depends on some effort of will.
– Greek: Theleo indicates determined wish.
– AV: “made whole” – it’s not something
we can do for ourselves.
11
I Have No Man (vs7)
• He knew he was powerless to act alone.
• So why was he there?
• Doubtless unknowing, virtually
verbatim quote from Isa 59:16.
– Very similar to Ezek 22:30, Jer 5:1.
• In fact, he had “a man” – “Behold the Man!” (John 19:5).
12
Three Steps to Salvation (vs 8)
• Rise!
– Disciples aspire to higher and wider horizons (Col 3:1).
• Take up your bed …
– Disciples are carriers, not merely the carried.
– “If any man would come after me, let him deny himself
and take up his cross daily and follow me.” (Luke 9:23,
RSV).
• Walk!
– Discipleship demands forward progress.
13
Why Did Jesus Depart? (vs 13)
• Because of the crowd – the man needed
time and space to work out the implications
of his healing.
– This is worked out in conflict (vss 10-13).
– Conflict is created by doing what Jesus asks!
• Jesus later found him in the temple …
– Had he gone there to give thanks?
– It seems that Jesus was looking for him.
– If so, Jesus finishes what he starts.
14
Thou art made whole… (vs14)
• Made whole – we are utterly dependent
upon the Lord’s grace.
• Sin no more – was this man’s condition the
result of a particular sin?
– Perhaps, but not necessarily.
• A worse thing – as in the parable of the
swept house (Luke 11:24-26).
• Or Hebrews 10:23-29.
15
He went and told the Jews (vs 15)
• Was he keeping “on side” with them? Was
this a betrayal of the Lord?
– It certainly had that effect! (vs 16)
– So was he still acting as a model of his people?
(eg John 1:11)
• Or had he realised that the leaders needed
help just as he had, and that they could only
obtain that help from the Lord?
16
Three Issues Arising ...
• It was the sabbath; the man was carrying his bed;
the Jews objected – vss 9-11, 16.
– They found fault with Jesus. But what of those who
had carried the man there?
• The Jews challenged Jesus’ God-given authority –
vss 17-23; vss 30-47.
– Even Jews could see that only God had power for such
a healing – implication of vss 17, 18.
• Two aspects of resurrection – vss 24-29.
17
Two Aspects of Resurrection
• Vs 25 is about a “here and now” raising
from “death” to (the new) “life”.
– The hour ... now is (vs 25).
– Refers to a present response to Jesus’ teaching
(leading to baptism) - vss 24-27.
• Vss 28, 29 are about a future raising from
the grave when the kingdom comes.
– The second raising depends on the first!
18
Summary
• Only Jesus has the power to raise those
who are prostrated by sin.
• Jesus has power over all things – even
over legalistic views of the laws of
God.
• Salvation is available only to those
who will exert some effort to attain it.
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The Cripple By The Pool
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