Jesus heals a man at the pool of Bethesda. Later, he says to him, “See, you are well! Sin no more, that nothing worse may happen to you.” (v. 14)
So what was the sin?
There is a theology as old as Job that illness is caused by sin. That idea is rebuked by the overall point of Job and by the speech of God at the end. Then in John 9 Jesus was asked who was to blame for a man being born blind. Was he to blame or his parents. Jesus said neither. There was another reason.
So what are we to make of John 5?
Maybe the man was paralyzed from sin. Did he do something to cause it? Was he punished for some sin by being paralyzed?
I was reading the text for what the emphasis is there. What we know about the man is that he, like many, believed that the pool of Bethesda had some kind of healing power. When the water was “stirred” the first to get in would get cured. This man had been hoping to win that race for some time – his illness had lasted 38 years.
Just before this story in Chapter 4 is the account of a royal official who approached Jesus about his son who was close to death. He asked Jesus to come to his house, but Jesus simply spoke the word, “Go, your son will live.” He found out later that at that moment was when his son was healed. This was the second “sign” miracle in John. The Word of Jesus has power to heal.
Now I wonder if the text is calling us to read the signs. Rather than looking to a bit of stirred water at a pool in a holy city, look to the Son of God who has, like the Creator in Genesis 1, the power to create by speech. Has not John called Jesus the “Word” in John 1?
I am thinking that the sin might be a magical faith – the man in John 5 believed the bit about the water in the pool. Maybe he should have put his faith in God instead.
In the history of religion, there as been a lot of excitement about holy places, holy objects, holy days and holy rituals, when God is not limited in time and place.
Was Jesus saying, something like, quit trusting in magic, trust me.