Posted by: randydunning | January 5, 2008

Day 5 | John 5


Text: John 5

Key Verse: 5, 6
“A man was there who had been ill for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him lying there, and knew that he had already been a long time in that condition, He said to him, ‘Do you wish to get well?'”

Jesus’ encounters with people are always so compelling. This one catches my attention because the man had been ill for thirty-eight years – that is how old I am! To think that as long as I’ve known life this man suffered from severe infirmity is sobering. No wonder he just laid there, physically and emotionally giving up on everything else in life yet clinging to an improbable miracle.

Jesus’ question seems patently rhetorical. Of course the man wants to be well. Yet he is so disillusioned that his “Yes” is an account of all the near-misses of receiving his miraculous cure. He was focused on a process to meet his need but help came in the form of a person – Jesus Christ.

This is an indictment of everyone who looks outside of God to have needs met. When we look to the government or a political candidate (the magic pill of choice in 2008), a parent or spouse, an employer, or a religious system (as did the pharisees, evidenced in the rest of chapter 5), and we put our eggs for change in that basket we’ll undoubtedly be sorely disappointed.

God wants us to look to his Son to effect the changes that will bring true life. As Jesus says in v. 39, “You search the scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; it is these that testify about me.”

Lord, I stand indicted, along with the thirty-eight-year patient at the portico. I often look for my big needs to met outside the person of Jesus. Forgive me for desiring so many other sources of transformation and for my unwillingness to come to you that I may have life (v. 40).



  1. Any comment on the seeming contradiction between 5:14 “see, you are well again. Stop sinning or something worse may happen to you.” and John 9:3 when the disciples ask who sinned, the blind man or his parents and Jesus answers “Neither this man nor his parents sinned…”

    Does God condemn sin with physical ailments?

  2. By “something worse may happen” you are assuming that to be of a physical nature. Are there worse things than being physically afflicted?

    I’d say that many physical ailments are the result of violating God’s design for the body (i.e. sin) and the condemnation comes from reaping what we sow.

    But in this case, the healed man doesn’t seem to be doing anything wrong except, perhaps, listening to the legalistic teaching of the pharisees. “It is the Sabbath, and it is not permissible for you to carry your pallet.”

    If, after his spirit is awakened to the power of God through his healing and the receiving of grace, he is enticed to begin walking the path of works-based salvation, that would put his soul in bondage – a worse fate than physical affliction.

    Galatians 5.1   “It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery.”

  3. I have been thinking of the comparison between 5.14 and 9.3. I wonder if Jesus is trying to state different things. I wonder if in 5.14 Jesus is telling the man to turn from the sin nature (repent) and in 9.3 is saying that the affliction was the result of neither the blind man nor his parents’ specific sin.

    It seems to me that Jesus might be speaking of two different types of “sin” in these passages. We can “sin,” as in commit a specific act contrary to the will of God, but we are also slaves to “sin,” as in the sin nature (as Paul would call it).

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