Read John 4:43 - 5:9a
43After the two days he left for Galilee. 44(Now Jesus himself had pointed out that a prophet has no honor in his own country.) 45When he arrived in Galilee, the Galileans welcomed him. They had seen all that he had done in Jerusalem at the Passover Feast, for they also had been there.
46Once 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. 47When 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 miraculous signs and wonders," Jesus told him, "you will never believe."
49The royal official said, "Sir, come down before my child dies."
50Jesus replied, "You may go. Your son will live."
The man took Jesus at his word and departed. 51While he was still on the way, his servants met him with the news that his boy was living. 52When he inquired as to the time when his son got better, they said to him, "The fever left him yesterday at the seventh hour."
53Then the father realized that this was the exact time at which Jesus had said to him, "Your son will live." So he and all his household believed.
54This was the second miraculous sign that Jesus performed, having come from Judea to Galilee.
5:1Some time later, Jesus went up to Jerusalem for a feast of the Jews. 2Now there is in Jerusalem near the Sheep Gate a pool, which in Aramaic is called Bethesda and which is surrounded by five covered colonnades. 3Here a great number of disabled people used to lie — the blind, the lame, the paralyzed. 5One who was there had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. 6When Jesus saw him lying there and learned that he had been in this condition for a long time, he asked him, "Do you want to get well?"
7"Sir," the invalid replied, "I have no one to help me into the pool when the water is stirred. While I am trying to get in, someone else goes down ahead of me."
8Then Jesus said to him, "Get up! Pick up your mat and walk." 9At once the man was cured; he picked up his mat and walked. (NIV)
In this section of John, he places two healings back to back. And when we look back to how the Samaritan woman and the Samaritan townsfolk came to believe and the people of these stories, we see a difference. The Samaritan woman and her town believed because they heard Jesus speak. The people in this story believed because they saw a miracle. Some believe that this is why Jesus said of the people, “Unless you people see miraculous signs and wonder, you will never believe.”
This is the great tension of our faith. It is a tension that is repeated in the Gospel of John. At the end, there will be Thomas who says he will not believe Christ is risen until he puts his fingers in the nail holes and his hand in his side. Jesus then will tell him he believes because he saw, blessed are those who have not seen and believe.
But there is a side of our faith that is based on experience. We all have different experiences of what it means to follow Christ. There may not be miraculous signs, but there is something there that helps us journey in faith.
When we look at the first healing, we see both of these traits in action. There is first the word to the man who son is sick and dying. Then there is the actual healing. Notice how the two are separated. There is first the word, “Your son will live.” The man instantly believes what Jesus says. He takes Jesus at his word. But we see later, that it is not until he realizes that the healing took place at the exact time Jesus said he would live, do we get the transition to believer. But we also see that his whole household believed too. This is one of the purposes of miraculous, to demonstrate God’s presence to someone. Many times it is for others to see and not the one who was healed.
The second healing shows how we need Christ. The belief at the time was that pool by the Sheep Gate had miraculous healing powers. The stirring, it was believed, was caused by an angel who would dip a wing into the pool causing it to be stirred up. The first person into the pool after the stirring up by the angel would be healed. This is why the man says he can’t be healed, there is no one to help him.
This is a wonderful word that lets us see that even when it seems we have no help, we have help in Christ. The man listened to Jesus and did what he told him to do. He wanted to be healed. We all have times when we fell we are alone and no is there to help us. It is in these times we need to see that Jesus is still there and available to us. This tension of believing and seeing to believe will always be there. He is the essence of the man who told Jesus in response to Jesus’ question, “Do you believe?” that shows this tension. The man’s response was “I believe, help my unbelief.” This is the tension we carry in our journey with Christ.
As a side note. Many scholars believe the time line is off in John’s Gospel. What they mean is that chapter 6 makes more sense if it is read before chapter 5. The order many say is read 4, 6, 5 to make sense of a true timeline. But often the writers were more concerned with what they communicated than being accurate with the time line. We can see were similar events were paired together to better show who Jesus was and is. Changing the order does not change the events. Just a little bit of what people debate.
Blessings and Peace