Today’s Scripture Focus: John 5:1-9
At the beginning and ending of our lives, we are totally dependent upon others to take care of us. This includes, feeding, bathing, dressing, etc. Just as important, however, are the love and affection shown us by those who care about us in our most helpless years. Even during the majority of our lives when most of us are able to feed and clothe ourselves, we never stop needing people to love us. Sometimes people are born with physical limitations that mean they will depend on others for basic care for life. How sad it makes us when those with special needs don’t have family to care for them. Today’s scripture tells the story of one such man.
John 5 opens up with Jesus back in Jerusalem for a festival. The Jews had seven major feasts a year, and most of Jesus’ dramatic actions took place during one of these celebrations. During this feast, Jesus performed one of the seven “signs” that testify to His status as the Son of God. The location of this incident is Bethesda, a pool located in the northeast of the city that at one time provided water for the Temple. A legend arose that the pool had healing properties. Bethesda could be translated as “House of Disgrace”, and probably had this name because of the number of invalids gathered there.
A lot of details are left out of this story, but that means that everything that did make it in is significant. We know 1) the man in the story had been handicapped for 38 years, and 2) that he was alone. This meant his situation was both permanent and hopeless. The fact he had no one to help him into the water meant he was without family, meaning his very survival was day to day at best. Jesus’ interaction with the man was quite brief. When Jesus asks the man if he wants to be made well, the man offers an explanation rather than an answer. Jesus, without fanfare, simply tells him to take up his mat and walk. The man is instantly healed.
Why was this man healed? It wasn’t because of faith. He didn’t know Jesus had the power to heal. It wasn’t because of righteousness. He was later told to stop sinning! (v. 14). It wasn’t because of loyalty, for He seems to cooperate with Jesus’ enemies (v. 15). Jesus healed the man because He had the one thing truly needed—love. Jesus was criticized for healing the man on the Sabbath. Jesus’ response showed who He was, for God’s work—the work of loving us—never stops. Bethesda can also be translated “House of Grace”. In this story, Jesus gives a helpless man grace in place of his disgrace. He loves us enough to do the same for us today. Do you want to be made well?
- Go around the table and share prayer requests. Have someone lead in prayer.
- Let everyone who would like to share anything exciting from their week.
- Ask these three questions. Let as many answer each one as they would like.
The scripture says Jesus could tell the man had been in his condition a long time. Why do you think Jesus asked him if he wanted to be made well?
Can people be spiritually handicapped? In other words, are there things we can’t do without God’s help? What are they?
Can you think of someone in your life who is dependent on your love? How can you show them grace this week—not because they deserve it, but because they need it?