This is probably Jesus second Passover during his ministry.
The first one was in 2:23. The last two are in 6:4 and 11:55.
The pool was dug out during the 8th Century BC and was called "the Upper Pool". It is mentioned in the Book of Kings II, chapter 18, verse 17:
"And the king of
Assyria sent Tartan and Rab-saris and Rab-shakeh from
and in the Book of Isaiah, chapter 7, verse 3:
"Then said the LORD unto Isaiah: 'Go forth now to meet Ahaz, thou, and Shear-jashub thy son, at the end of the conduit of the upper pool, in the highway of the fullers' field"
A second pool was dug during the third
century BC by Simon the High Priest. These pools were used to wash the sheep
prior to their sacrifice in the
The pools are mentioned in the New Testament. In John 5, in the Bible, Jesus was reported healing a man at the pool. Its name is said to derive from the Aramaic language beth hesda, meaning "house of grace". Alternative renderings of its name include Bethzatha and Bethsaida.
According to the Easton's Bible Dictionary Bethesda means house of mercy, a reservoir (Gr. kolumbethra, "a swimming bath") with five porches, close to the sheep-gate or market (Nehemiah 3:1; John 5:2).
Eusebius the historian
(A.D. 330) calls it "the sheep-pool." It is also called "
Prior to archeological digs it was identified with the modern so-called Fountain of the Virgin, in the valley of the Kidron, and not far from the Pool of Siloam and also with the Birket Israel, a pool near the mouth of the valley which runs into the Kidron south of St. Stephen's Gate.
The part of the verse beginning in 5:3b-4 is not in any manuscripts until the 300’s AD. These verses are an explanation or at least the current belief on why and how the water is stirred as referred to in 5:7. This is not what actually happened but what the people believed was happening. Small grottos to the east have been located with stone basins used for washing that the people had hoped would bring healing.
Thirty eight years in bed would make it impossible for this man to have developed the muscles or the balance and coordination to move.
“learned” is gnous and means Jesus perceived the situation and by his observation came to this conclusion.
Jesus’ question is very revealing.
“Do you want to get well?” Jesus was asking for input from the man’s will.
Two reasons to consider Jesus question:
1) the man’s will was going to have something to do with the healing
2) With any kind of a change (including positive changes) there are natural consequences. Some are positive like being able to walk and move around. Some will be negative like exposure to a whole new area of conflict (here a religious one) and opportunities to violate rules and regulations (here, man’s traditions.)
3) Some have commented on the fact that this man would have been a professional beggar. The curing of his handicap would have taken away his honest career. Probably a good trade but still one to consider. Often times it is easier to live with our spiritual and emotional handicaps then to respond to Jesus and take up our problems and move on with life.
The man has the desire but not the ability to be healed.
No strength. No friends.
Here the ms do mention the stirring of the water which would have led to the addition of verses 3b and 4 to either explain this verse or to record the details of the beliefs of the people at this time that had been handed down.
Jesus then gives a command.
At Jesus’ word and at the man’s obedience the healing occurs. Notice both must occur.
The man could have looked away and remained on his mat. Would he have been healed?
a) maybe you’d say yes because Jesus had spoken
b) but, maybe you’d say no since the potential was there but the man really didn’t change. He remained on his mat.
The same is true for us when we consider all of the
potential the Bible communicates to us and about us. In the Bible there are groups (
The man was instantly healed.
There was no faith involved with this healing.
The man did not seek Jesus out, nor did he know who he was.
It was God’s power and Jesus’ choice.
This is what the Messiah is said to do according to Isaiah 35:1-7
This is Jesus’ first open opposition in this book.
Notice the use of the word “Jew” by John.
Everybody involved in this story is a Jew by race including John who is writing it:
1) the Jewish leaders, 2) the healed man, 3) Jesus, 4) the crowd, and 6) John the apostle who is writing this.
The word “Jew” is used here not of the ethnic group called “Jews” but of those who resisted God and his Messiah.
The man does not take responsibility for walking, lifting
his mat nor for carrying his mat.
The man blames Jesus.
Their statement indicates they where interested in finding the man who violated the Sabbath and not in finding the man who healed.
Jesus “slips away” from the hostile crowd three other times: 8:59; 10:39; 12:36.
“slipped away” is ecneuw and means “to bend the head aside” and “to dodge”
Everyone would have seen the healed man and so they would have easily have missed the healer.
“found him” indicates that Jesus went back in search for the man to finish his work and conversation with the man. Namely, Jesus had healed his body now he wants to save his soul.
“You are well again” is in the perfect tense and means the cure is permenant.
“Stop sinning” is mhketi amartane in the present imperative and so it is a command that means “continue no longer in sin.” The man had sinned and was currently sinning.
Notice 9:1 rejects the idea that a man was born blind due to sin, but that is not always the case as here. Sin and illness are connected here.
This could mean:
1) the man’s own sinful actions 38 years ago had got him in this condition
2) the man’s own sin kept him in this bondage for 38 years
3) the man was not saved and faith in Jesus would have taken him from his place of judgment for a sinful condition.
“something worse” could be:
1) Another type of handicap or sickness
2) Probably, eternal damnation.
This verse is probably saying:
1) that sin had something to do with the man’s handicap and how long it lasted.
2) That this man can be delivered from not only injury but sin by Jesus.
3) If the man does not respond to these two ridings of sin he will be risking:
a. Physical danger greater than he has known
b. Eternal damnation
The man now knows Jesus was his healer.
The man sells Jesus out to save his skin from the Jews.
The man was still accused of violating the Sabbath and would be punished.
The man’s healing has caused him to have a problem he never before had to deal with: walking and lifting on the Sabbath.
The Jews wanted to know who told him to violate the Sabbath, but he tells them who it was who healed him.