We recently met a nobleman and learned how his faith in Jesus healed his son and caused his entire household to believe (John 4:53). You were also asked this question: What do you need to take Jesus at His word about in your life? That person who abused you—that’s not Jesus. That season when you felt neglected—His provision was still present. The time you left Him and walked with the world—He never left your side. You need to take Jesus at His word about who He is and not associate Him with another human being who damaged you.
Sin is disgustingly terrible and has caused mankind to do hideous acts to one another. But, that is not Jesus. “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full” (John 10:10). This means that sin will occur, but Jesus has conquered and has a new life He wants you to experience. As we continue to study the book of John, we understand more and more who Jesus is.
1 After this there was a feast of the Jews, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. 2 Now there is in Jerusalem by the Sheep Gate a pool, which is called in Hebrew, Bethesda, having five porches. 3 In these lay a great multitude of sick people, blind, lame, paralyzed, waiting for the moving of the water. 4 For an angel went down at a certain time into the pool and stirred up the water; then whoever stepped in first, after the stirring of the water, was made well of whatever disease he had.
- There are a few historical and contextual points to excavate in these verses.
o First, the timing. It says in verse 1 that “there was a feast of the Jews…” We’re not certain which feast this was, because there are three feasts every Jewish man who live within 15 miles was required to attend: Passover, Pentecost, and Purim.
o Speaking of excavating verses, archaeologists have excavated this Pool of Bethesda. It was in an area just north of the temple in Jerusalem and has been found to have five porches, just as John said.
o Verse 4 is omitted in certain texts (i.e., the NIV translation). I typically write our Bible studies using NIV, but I chose NKJV for this week, which does include verse 4. This omission/inclusion may cause some questions, so I’ll invest a few moments to provide perspective. For the record, I didn’t say I’d provide answers—you must seek those for yourself. As believers, we each may hold varying convictions based on our personal relationship with Christ. Please remember, your personal convictions (referred to as “issues of conscience” in Romans 15) do not make them someone else’s and vice versa. We were not called to convict others—the Holy Spirit takes care of that—we are called to love others, even when our opinions and personal convictions vary.
§ You may be asking, “Why are there so many versions of the Bible?” or “Which translation is best?”
· We could spend many hours debating the versions of the Bible, but that’s not the purpose of this platform. When people want to suck you into a scholarly debate about translations and which is “better,” here’s what I would say: textual changes in translations affect no major doctrine. All true Biblical translations of the Bible include the deity of Christ, virgin birth, salvation by grace (alone), and eternal life with our God. Let’s not get distracted by versioning—that’s exactly what Satan wants to happen to God’s people because it renders us ineffective.
· The original text is in Greek and Hebrew—so you can forget about there being a perfect translation. However, we serve a perfect God, and is He not able—through the power of His Holy Spirit—to “fill in the holes” of our understanding and faith? We saw this last week as we studied the latter section of John 4 where the nobleman came to Jesus in faith, but also with wrong assumptions. Despite his “mistakes,” Jesus showed compassion. Isn’t it reassuring to know that the grace of our Savior fills in the “holes” where our faith is still weak? He is sovereign even over the worst of translations. If I were to go to a non-English speaking country and deliver to them the gospel in their language (that was not in written form), and I was unable to directly quote a specific verse because I was unable to appropriate the right word in their language, would God be unable to work? How silly. And, how equally silly for us to allow divisiveness around translation to disrupt us in talking about what the Apostle Paul reminds us is essential: preach Christ crucified (1 Corinthians 1:23). Don’t get distracted, friends. Stay fixed, fastened, and focused on the purpose of your time here on earth.
· Now, I will provide a bit of practical advice. Not out of conviction or opinion, but simply from a woman teacher of the Word to other women who study God’s Word: Choose a couple translations. I have a journaling NIV Bible I take to church, so I can write down notes. I use a NKJV as my home study Bible. I frequently read The Message on my Bible app. I could be one of those people who has hundreds of Bibles (if my hubby would indulge me in such excess). I read both dynamic translations (meaning, paraphrased) and equivalence translations (word-for-word). Balance is key. I also have great commentaries I reference—because I am not a scholar. I use www.blueletterbible.org for certain commentaries, like David Guzik. I love Warren Wiersbe and Charles Spurgeon and Andrew Murray. I listen to Jon Courson, Damian Kyle, Mike Fabarez, and Beth Moore. Is any one person perfect in their understanding and doctrine? No, and neither am I. My heart is to point women to Christ and guide them in experiencing Who He is through the exploration of His Word. That doesn’t negate me from error. God deposited His expository understanding in the lives of countless men and women, including you. His grace is sufficient (2 Corinthians 12:9) to fill in the holes of any weak translation and interpretation, as long as the intent of the heart is to glorify Him.
- By the way, if we were to apply our modern grammar rules to verse 4, we would most likely see quotations marks around the word angel and it read something like this: “For an ‘angel’ went down at a certain time.” Meaning, it was superstition v. a “real” angel. Especially during these festival times, sick, blind, lame, and paralyzed people came to the pool to be healed (Clarke). Whether that truly occurred or was #fakenews, we’ll leave that up to the One who truly knows and sees all.
5 Now a certain man was there who had an infirmity thirty-eight years. 6 When Jesus saw him lying there, and knew that he already had been in that condition a long time, He said to him, “Do you want to be made well?”
7 The sick man answered Him, “Sir, I have no man to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up; but while I am coming, another steps down before me.”
- Now, back to our regularly scheduled program. We have a little bit of background on this man who Jesus is about to heal on the Sabbath (which is “illegal,” btw). He’s been sick for 38 years. Not just puny, but unable to move (see verse 7). Thirty-eight years of disappointment. Let that sink in for 38 minutes.
- Verse 6 is awesome: “Jesus saw him lying there and knew that he had already been in that condition a long time.” Jesus sees you. Jesus knows you. Jesus loves you. He loves you and died for that spiritual sickness that plagued your life for decades on end.
- Jesus also asked the man a critical question: “Do you want to be made well?” This may seem silly for some, but there’s a reason for His inquisition. Some people don’t want to be made well. Some people are good with their diseases—whether it be physical or spiritual. Jesus was genuinely asking whether the man’s desire was to be made whole. Years of disappointment can wither the heart, and it was important for the man to declare his desire for a new life.
- Notice the man didn’t answer a straight-up “yes.” The only solution the man saw was to be put into the pool when the water was stirred, and that was repeatedly unsuccessful. However, Jesus knew his heart and that his desire was to be healed, even though his faith wasn’t fully developed and he was unable to see the answer. Think about that for a moment.
8 Jesus said to him, “Rise, take up your bed and walk.” 9 And immediately the man was made well, took up his bed, and walked.
And that day was the Sabbath. 10 The Jews therefore said to him who was cured, “It is the Sabbath; it is not lawful for you to carry your bed.”
- Jesus asked the man to do something he was unable to do: walk. When weak attempts are mixed with God’s strength, anything is possible. One of my girlfriends and I are studying C.S. Lewis’ book, Mere Christianity, and I recently underlined this potent truth:
To have Faith in Christ means, of course, trying to do all that He says. There would be no sense in saying you trusted a person if you would not take his advice. Thus if you have really handed yourself over to Him, it must follow that you are trying to obey Him. But trying in a new way, a less worried way. Not doing these things in order to be saved, but because He has begun to save you already. Not hoping to get to Heaven as a reward for your actions, but inevitably wanting to act in a certain way because a first faint gleam of Heaven is already inside you.
- Pay close attention that Jesus healed on the Sabbath, which was unlawful. This miracle would’ve caused no other issue except the fact that it occurred on the Sabbath (there were 39 tasks which were prohibited on the Sabbath based on Jewish law). This “event” will come into play in future chapters, so make note of the upcoming hub-bub it causes.
- The Jewish leaders question the healed man (whom they most-likely recognized because he frequented the Pool of Bethesda); and, instead of rejoicing in his healing, they chided him for carrying his bed, which was also unlawful on the Sabbath. Before we’re too quick to judge the Jewish leaders for their negative outlook, let’s not forget how quickly we choose to see what’s going wrong instead of what’s going well.
11 He answered them, “He who made me well said to me, ‘Take up your bed and walk.’”
12 Then they asked him, “Who is the Man who said to you, ‘Take up your bed and walk’?” 13 But the one who was healed did not know who it was, for Jesus had withdrawn, a multitude being in that place. 14 Afterward Jesus found him in the temple, and said to him, “See, you have been made well. Sin no more, lest a worse thing come upon you.”
15 The man departed and told the Jews that it was Jesus who had made him well.
- Notice that the Jewish leaders didn’t ask who healed the man, but instead, who told him to “Take up your bed and walk.” He became the man who broke the Sabbath v. the man who was made well on the Sabbath (Guzik).
- Jesus was smart. He healed the man and then “dodged” the commotion. Later, Jesus “found him in the temple.” Again, Jesus sought out the man because He had more to say to him—more healing to offer him. Most scholars agree that the ailment this man suffered from for 38 years was the consequence of a sinful lifestyle. Therefore, Jesus—who’s most concerned with our spiritual health—sought him out and reminded him that sin is a choice, and he’s encountered the One who showed him a different Way.
- We can’t conclude whether this healed man chose to follow Jesus going forward. We do know he was found in the temple—most likely to offer the appropriate sacrifice—and his sin was specifically addressed. Just as Jesus asked him if he wanted to be healed physically, He does the same for each of us spiritually. Some people don’t want to be made well. But, I choose to respond with a resounding, “YES!” Amen.
I LEFT YOU WITH A CLIFFHANGER FROM THE FIRST HALF OF JOHN 4 ABOUT THE UNNAMED SAMARITAN WOMAN. WE EAVESDROPPED AS A CONVERSATION PROGRESSED BETWEEN AN UNRIGHTEOUS WOMAN AND A SINLESS SAVIOR. AT FIRST, HE WAS JUST A “JEW” TO HER (THE JEWS AND SAMARITANS HAD A MUTUAL DISGUST FOR ONE ANOTHER); THEN, SHE CALLED HIM “SIR”—A MORE POLITE AND RESPECTFUL WAY TO ADDRESS SOMEONE. AS HE BEGAN TO SPEAK WITH HER ABOUT HER SIN, SHE REFERRED TO HIM AS A “PROPHET.” FINALLY, SHE SAID TO HIM, “I KNOW THAT MESSIAH (CALLED CHRIST) IS COMING…” JESUS THEN ROCKED HER WORLD BY DECLARING, “I AM HE.”
That’s where we concluded—with the Living Water revealing Himself to a broken, rejected, and burdened woman who was drinking the world’s polluted water. We all know this unnamed woman because she is you. I like to think she was unnamed because her name was meant to be Tiffany. Or—in your case—her name was meant to be your name. I’m thankful that the Living Water revealed Himself to a broken, rejected, and burden woman (me) who was drinking the world’s polluted water. I pray you feel the same.
Now, the disciples enter the scene again (who had left to go buy food):
27 Just then his disciples returned and were surprised to find him talking with a woman. But no one asked, “What do you want?” or “Why are you talking with her?”
28 Then, leaving her water jar, the woman went back to the town and said to the people, 29 “Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did. Could this be the Messiah?” 30 They came out of the town and made their way toward him.
- It makes me smile that the disciples knew it was strange for a Jew to speak with a Samaritan, yet they didn’t say anything. That tells us that they are learning how Jesus has His own approach and He knows what needs to happen, so they don’t question Him or try to counsel Him. We could learn a thing or two from that, right? Remember the miracle at the wedding in Cana and how Mary made a statement, but didn’t try to counsel Jesus about how to “solve” the problem?
- I love verse 28 – “Then, leaving her water jar…” She talked to her Savior about the Living Water—and she accepted that Truth. Then, she left her worldly water jar with Jesus as she ran to tell others. That is a conversion story if I ever heard one! Let’s give up the junk of this world by laying it at the feet of Jesus and then run to share our faith with others.
31 Meanwhile his disciples urged him, “Rabbi, eat something.”
32 But he said to them, “I have food to eat that you know nothing about.”
33 Then his disciples said to each other, “Could someone have brought him food?”
34 “My food,” said Jesus, “is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work. 35 Don’t you have a saying, ‘It’s still four months until harvest’? I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest. 36 Even now the one who reaps draws a wage and harvests a crop for eternal life, so that the sower and the reaper may be glad together. 37 Thus the saying ‘One sows and another reaps’ is true. 38 I sent you to reap what you have not worked for. Others have done the hard work, and you have reaped the benefits of their labor.”
- Here again, we have Jesus making a statement (“I have food to eat that you know nothing about.”). The statement is taken in the wrong sense (“Could someone have bought him food?”). Jesus remakes the statement in an even more vivid way and prompts the disciples to “see” (with their spiritual eyes) how the fields are ripe for harvest—meaning, the Samaritan people!
Lord, give us Your eyes to see. Help our spiritual eyes to see the harvest and be moved with compassion to share our testimony with others, just like the unnamed Samaritan woman.
39 Many of the Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, “He told me everything I ever did.” 40 So when the Samaritans came to him, they urged him to stay with them, and he stayed two days. 41 And because of his words many more became believers.
42 They said to the woman, “We no longer believe just because of what you said; now we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this man really is the Savior of the world.”
- It’s humbling to me that a “bad” Samaritan who has little to no respect in a town can be used as an instrument to lead others to Jesus. That is what makes God’s work so phenomenally backwards. Those people urged Him to stay with them and then many more became believers. It’s important for new believers to learn of Jesus firsthand through the study of the Word. That’s why Divinely Interrupted teaches women the Bible in a unique way: book-by-book, chapter-by-chapter, and verse-by-verse. We must not have a “secondhand” salvation. We each need to experience who Jesus is firsthand, and the best way to encounter Him is by studying His Living Word and allowing the Holy Spirit to speak to us—just like with the unnamed woman and the Samaritans who believed.
- Did you catch what verse 42 said? Go back up and read it (I’ll wait while you scroll). William Barclay says it like this, “I know what Jesus is like and I know what Jesus can do. All that I can ask you to do is to try him yourself and see what happens.” That’s exactly what happened in this small town of Sychar—someone experienced Jesus and ran to beg others to try Him for themselves. That’s all we need to do, folks—to experience Him ourselves and tell others.
43 After the two days he left for Galilee. 44 (Now Jesus himself had pointed out that a prophet has no honor in his own country.) 45 When he arrived in Galilee, the Galileans welcomed him. They had seen all that he had done in Jerusalem at the Passover Festival, for they also had been there.
46 Once more he visited Cana in Galilee, where he had turned the water into wine. And there was a certain royal official whose son lay sick at Capernaum. 47 When this man heard that Jesus had arrived in Galilee from Judea, he went to him and begged him to come and heal his son, who was close to death.
48 “Unless you people see signs and wonders,” Jesus told him, “you will never believe.”
49 The royal official said, “Sir, come down before my child dies.”
50 “Go,” Jesus replied, “your son will live.”
The man took Jesus at his word and departed. 51 While he was still on the way, his servants met him with the news that his boy was living.52 When he inquired as to the time when his son got better, they said to him, “Yesterday, at one in the afternoon, the fever left him.”
53 Then the father realized that this was the exact time at which Jesus had said to him, “Your son will live.” So he and his whole household believed.
54 This was the second sign Jesus performed after coming from Judea to Galilee.
- He stayed in Samaria for two days, and then left for Galilee. Apparently—according to verse 44—Jesus detected that hostility was on the rise due to the religious leaders. But, as we were told in John 2:4, “My [Jesus’] hour has not yet come.” Jesus had come into this world for a definite purpose and task. He also knew that His ministry in Jerusalem had been insincere and shallow because it tells us in John 2:23-25:
Now while he was in Jerusalem at the Passover Festival, many people saw the signs he was performing and believed in his name. But Jesus would not entrust himself to them, for he knew all people. He did not need any testimony about mankind, for he knew what was in each person.
- So, we don’t know why He returned to Cana, but we do know Jesus always has His best ready for us. Jesus was met in Cana by a nobleman from Capernaum—some twenty miles away. When a man is doing miracles, word gets around fast. And, when a parent is losing his or her child, there’s no road too long to travel for their healing.
- Jesus wasn’t chiding the father when He said, “Unless you people see signs and wonders, you will never believe.” He was making a statement about the spiritual conditions of the people in the region. There were two assumptions this nobleman made in terms of Jesus:
1. Jesus must be physically present to heal.
2. If the boy had died, it was too late.
- This father exhibited faith, even though he made some wrong assumptions. Despite his “mistakes,” Jesus showed compassion. Isn’t it reassuring to know that the grace of our Savior fills in the “holes” where our faith is still weak? He can work with a mustard-seed-sized faith (Matthew 17:20). The man mustarded up all the faith he had and sought Jesus (we saw this same action when Nicodemus approached Jesus in the night), and Jesus was faithful.
- “Go, your son will live.” The words any parent would tearfully rejoice to hear. What’s amazing is that even though the father came with wrong assumptions, once Jesus spoke, he believed. It says in verse 50, “The man took Jesus at his word and departed.”
- Do you need to take Jesus at His word about something in your life? Let that question ruminate in your heart. That person who abused you—that’s not Jesus. That season that you were neglected—it wasn’t Him. The time you left Him and walked with the world—He never left your side. Today, you need to take Jesus at His word about who He is and not associate Him with another human being who damaged you. Sin is disgustingly terrible and has caused mankind to do hideous acts to one another. But, that was not Jesus. “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full” (John 10:10). This means that sin will occur, but Jesus has conquered and has a new life He wants you to experience.
- Romans 8:28 says, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, and who have been called according to His purpose.” That means the repugnant sins of mankind are no struggle for Jesus. While He may permit the sin to happen, He is still able to work for the good of you. Let that steep. Maybe today is your day to release the past and “go your way” towards belief instead of blame. Be free and take Him at His word. And, just like that little boy, you will live. Amen.
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