The Miracle at Bethesda

Week 35 | Section 49a,b | Phase 4

Summary: Today’s study demonstrates the mercy of God through Jesus’s healing of a man lying beside the pool of Bethesda. The man who had been sick for thirty-eight years became well in an instant.  In his response to the Jewish elders who questioned his labor on the Sabbath, Jesus gave the response that most certainly caught their attention, inasmuch as he claimed he and God the Father were equal. Now that certainly raises two most fascinating questions for today’s disciple: ‘Do you want to be well?’ and ‘Will you honor him as the Lord?’


Today’s Gospel Reading

(There is no record from Matthew, Mark or Luke)

John 5:1-9; 10-18
1 After these things[i], there was a feast[ii] of the Jews, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. 2 Now in Jerusalem by the sheep gate[iii], there is a pool, which is called in Hebrew, “Bethesda”[iv], having five porches. 3 In these lay a great multitude of those who were sick, blind, lame, or paralyzed, waiting for the moving of the water; 4 for an angel went down at certain times into the pool, and stirred up the water[v]. Whoever stepped in first after the stirring of the water was healed of whatever disease he had. 5 A certain man was there, who had been sick for thirty-eight years. 6 When Jesus saw him lying there, and knew[vi] that he had been sick for a long time, he asked him, “Do you want[vii] to be made well?” 7 The sick man answered him, “Sir, I have no one to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up, but while I’m coming, another steps down before me.” 8 Jesus said to him, “Arise, take up your mat, and walk.”[viii] 9 Immediately, the man was made well, and took up his mat and walked. Now it was the Sabbath on that day. 10 So the Jews said to him who was cured, “It is the Sabbath. It is not lawful for you to carry the mat.”[ix] 11 He answered them, “He who made me well, the same said to me, ‘Take up your mat, and walk.’” 12 Then they asked him, “Who is the man who said to you, ‘Take up your mat, and walk’?”[x] 13 But he who was healed didn’t know who it was, for Jesus had withdrawn, a crowd being in the place. 14 Afterward Jesus found him in the temple, and said to him, “Behold, you are made well. Sin no more, so that nothing worse happens to you.”[xi] 15 The man went away, and told the Jews that it was Jesus who had made him well. 16 For this cause the Jews persecuted Jesus, and sought to kill him, because he did these things on the Sabbath. 17 But Jesus answered them, “My Father is still working, so I am working, too.”[xii]

[i] After this – Jesus had been in the region of Galilee and had passed through Samaria into Judea. It was back in section 32 (Week 21, Phase 2) that Jesus was last in Jerusalem for the Passover feast (John 2:23).  This section marks the beginning of Phase 4. 80% of the verse of Jesus’ life and ministry have yet to be explored in the Harmony of the Gospels. Phase 4 is time of ministry development.  In this time phase he will name a few of his disciples to become Apostles, overseers of the ministry. See Field Guide for ministry Discernment and Discipleship, by Greg Troxell.

[ii] This feast was probably that of Passover feast but may have been the Feast of Tabernacles (in memory of the period of wandering Lev 23:33). Either case the law obliged all the males to appear there.  John does make an effort to anchor his Gospel in the context of the Passover feasts.

[iii] Sheep gate – during this time the sheep and oxen that were sold in the temple were brought through the sheep gate (Nehemiah 3:1; 3:32; 12:39).

[iv] Bethesda – As translated in the Syriac, Arabic, and Persic versions to mean a “house of mercy, grace or goodness”. Sometimes confused with Bethsaida one of two cities/towns in Galilee.

[v] Tradition has it that many were healed here. Of angels Hebrews 1:14 says, “Are they not all ministering spirits sent forth to minister for those who will inherit salvation? See other thoughts on Angels.

[vi] Foreknowledge or familiarity – The Vulgate Latin and Syriac versions specific a long time and the Arabic version says 38 years. Was it his intemperance that led to his condition? It does not say what sin but certainly some conditions are brought on by our emotional, mental and physical care or disregard.

[vii] Do you wish to be well? Jesus used this question as a manner to raise the man’s expectation of a cure.  The apostle James speaks to this attitude and says “you have not because you ask not” (James 4:2-3).

[viii] At his word – again and again

[ix] Duet law –

[x] Now they were concerned not only that this man was breaking the Sabbath but that someone told him to do so.

[xi] This is a common Jewish teaching and interesting that Jesus refers to it here. What reason might there be that sin would cause such an infirmity?

[xii] My father – the father and I are one, and I am the Lord of the Sabbath (Matthew 12:8). Gk. ergázomai work. We too have our work to do and that by the aid of the Holy Spirit working through us.



Copyright©: Bible text is from the World English Bible which in public domain. Bible text is from the World English Bible which in public domain. You may download and reproduce this study guide in its entirety so long as you do not remove the footer of Harmony Bible Radio. If you would like to obtain a complimentary copy of Thomas & Gundry’s Harmony of the Gospels (NIV) in our exclusive letter-size, loose-leaf PDF, then please contact us via email or phone to schedule training.

Forgiving & Healing of a Paralytic

Week 32, Section 46

Summary: This week we step into the room where a crowd had gathered around Jesus to hear him teach. Over the past few months Jesus has gained many followers and disciples so many that on this day some very determined friends chose to tear open the room in order to place their friend at the feet of Jesus.  This is the kind of story that challenges me, making me ask, ‘what extent am I going to bring those in need to Jesus?’

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Matthew Mark Luke John
1 He entered into a boat, and crossed over, and came into his own city. 2 Behold, they brought to him a man who was paralyzed, lying on a bed. Jesus, seeing their faith, said to the paralytic, Son, cheer up! Your sins are forgiven you. 3 Behold, some of the scribes said to themselves, “This man blasphemes.” 4 Jesus, knowing their thoughts, said, “Why do you think evil in your hearts? 5  For which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven;’ or to say, ‘Get up, and walk?’ 6  But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins-” (then he said to the paralytic), “Get up, and take up your mat, and go to your house.” 7 He arose and departed to his house. 8 But when the multitudes saw it, they marveled and glorified God, who had given such authority to men. 1 When he entered again into Capernaum after some days, it was heard that he was in the house. 2 Immediately many were gathered together, so that there was no more room, not even around the door; and he spoke the word to them. 3 Four people came, carrying a paralytic to him. 4 When they could not come near to him for the crowd, they removed the roof where he was. When they had broken it up, they let down the mat that the paralytic was lying on. 5 Jesus, seeing their faith, said to the paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven you.” 6 But there were some of the scribes sitting there, and reasoning in their hearts, 7 “Why does this man speak blasphemies like that? Who can forgive sins but God alone?” 8 Immediately Jesus, perceiving in his spirit that they so reasoned within themselves, said to them, “Why do you reason these things in your hearts? 9  Which is easier, to tell the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven;’ or to say, ‘Arise, and take up your bed, and walk?’ 10  But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”—he said to the paralytic— 11  “I tell you, arise, take up your mat, and go to your house.” 12 He arose, and immediately took up the mat, and went out in front of them all; so that they were all amazed, and glorified God, saying, “We never saw anything like this!” 17 On one of those days, he was teaching; and there were Pharisees and teachers of the law sitting by, who had come out of every village of Galilee, Judea, and Jerusalem. The power of the Lord was with him to heal them. 18 Behold, men brought a paralyzed man on a cot, and they sought to bring him in to lay before Jesus. 19 Not finding a way to bring him in because of the multitude, they went up to the housetop, and let him down through the tiles with his cot into the middle before Jesus. 20 Seeing their faith, he said to him, “Man, your sins are forgiven you.” 21 The scribes and the Pharisees began to reason, saying, “Who is this that speaks blasphemies? Who can forgive sins, but God alone?” 22 But Jesus, perceiving their thoughts, answered them, “Why are you reasoning so in your hearts? 23  Which is easier to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven you;’ or to say, ‘Arise and walk?’ 24  But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins” (he said to the paralyzed man), “I tell you, arise, and take up your cot, and go to your house.” 25 Immediately he rose up before them, and took up that which he was laying on, and departed to his house, glorifying God. 26 Amazement took hold on all, and they glorified God. They were filled with fear, saying, “We have seen strange things today.” No Record Provided

** Our online text is from the World English Bible, rights to use this format are granted by Michael Johnson. If you would like to obtain a copy of Thomas & Gundry’s Harmony of the Gospels (NIV) in our exclusive letter-size, loose-leaf PDF, then please contact us via email or phone.    

Study Notes:


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Song:  Healer, Hillsong

Week 31, Section 45

Summary: A year since Jesus was baptized his public ministry now includes more healing as he shows his compassion to others and the number of followers and disciples is increasing.  Our study today reveals something more about Jesus’ purpose, his manner of ministry, and his concern for our own physical condition.

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Matthew 8:1-4 Mark 1:40-45 Luke 5:12-16 John
1 When he came down from the mountain, great multitudes followed him. 2 Behold, a leper came to him and worshiped him, saying, “Lord, if you want toa, you canb make me clean.” 3 Jesus stretched out his hand, and touched him, saying, “I want to. Be made clean.” Immediately his leprosy was cleansedc. 4 Jesus said to him, “See that you tell nobody, but go, show yourself to the priest, and offer the gift that Moses commanded, as a testimony to them.d 40 A leper came to him, begging him, kneeling down to him, and saying to him, “If you want to, you can make me clean.” 41 Being moved with compassion, he stretched out his hand, and touched him, and said to him, “I want to. Be made clean.” 42 When he had said this, immediately the leprosy departed from him, and he was made clean. 43 He strictly warned him, and immediately sent him out, 44 and said to him, “See you say nothing to anybody, but go show yourself to the priest, and offer for your cleansing the things which Moses commanded, for a testimony to them.d 45 But he went out, and began to proclaim it muche, and to spread about the matter, so that Jesus could no more openly enter into a city, but was outside in desert places: and they came to him from everywhere.f 12 While he was in one of the cities, behold, there was a man full of leprosy. When he saw Jesus, he fell on his face, and begged him, saying, “Lord, if you want to, you can make me clean.” 13 He stretched out his hand, and touched him, saying, “I want to. Be made clean.” Immediately the leprosy left him. 14 He commanded him to tell no one, “But go your way, and show yourself to the priest, and offer for your cleansing according to what Moses commanded, for a testimony to them.d 15 But the report concerning him spread much more, and great multitudes came together to hear, and to be healed by him of their infirmities.e 16 But he withdrew himself into the desert, and prayed.g No account of this story

** Our online text is from the World English Bible, rights to use this format are granted by Michael Johnson. If you would like to obtain a copy of Thomas & Gundry’s Harmony of the Gospels (NIV) in our exclusive letter-size, loose-leaf PDF, then please contact us via email or phone.    

Study Notes:

“Lord if you want”- notice how the man came to Jesus, honored/regarded him with the title ‘Lord’. In his question he begins by recognizing the ‘will of God’. The will of God is an important aspect when asking for healing and other aid from God.  As in the Lord’s Prayer we are to subject ourselves to the will of God which may not be our wealth and happiness but most certainly includes the wholeness of spirit and
Notes The leper recognizes the ability of
Testimony to them – That is to the priests, so that 1) they would know that a healing took place and they had no part in making it happen, 2) to fulfill the due process of the Mosaic law, and 3) perhaps most importantly the fulfillment of prophecy about the Messiah who would come and heal.  This is important to understand as the subsequent footnote will show that his failure to follow Jesus instructions
Instead the healed man went out and told people of the miracle. Interestingly Jesus does not punish the man.
He went away and prayed –

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Song:  IF ANY 

Week 29, Section 43

Summary: The week we read of Jesus healing Peter’s mother-in-law and learn about the nature of community, compassion, and care. In this passage we Compassion of Christ, the Consolation of Jerusalem, Jesus’ care of the Peter’s mother-in-law and the people gathered.

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Matthew 8:14-17 Mark 1:29-34 Luke 4:38-41 John
14 Whena Jesus came into Peter’s houseb, he saw his wife’s mother lying sick with a fever. 15 He touched her hand, and the fever left her. She got up and served him.c 16 When evening came, they brought to him many possessed with demons.d He cast out the spirits with a word, and healed all who were sick; 17 that it might be fulfilled which was spoken through Isaiah the prophet, saying, “He took our infirmities, and bore our diseases.”f, 29 Immediately, when they had come out of the synagogue, they came into the house of Simon and Andrew, with James and John. 30 Now Simon’s wife’s mother lay sick with a fever, and immediately they told him about her. 31 He came and took her by the hand, and raised her up. The fever left her, and she served them.c 32 At evening, when the sun had set, they brought to him all who were sick, and those who were possessed by demons.d 33 All the city was gathered together at the door. 34 He healed many who were sick with various diseases, and cast out many demons. He didn’t allow the demons to speake, because they knew him. 38 He rose up from the synagogue, and entered into Simon’s house. Simon’s mother-in-law was afflicted with a great fever, and they begged him for her. 39 He stood over her, and rebuked the fever;c and it left her. Immediately she rose up and served them. 40 When the sun was setting, all those who had any sick with various diseases brought them to him; and he laid his hands on every one of them, and healed them. 41 Demons.d also came out of many, crying out, and saying, “You are the Christ, the Son of God!” Rebuking them, he didn’t allow them to speake, because they knew that he was the Christ. No Record Provided

** Our online text is from the World English Bible, rights to use this format are granted by Michael Johnson. If you would like to obtain a copy of Thomas & Gundry’s Harmony of the Gospels (NIV) in our exclusive letter-size, loose-leaf PDF, then please contact us via email or phone.    

Study Notes:

Sequence of the Harmony of the Gospels – Notice that we’ve skipped over nearly four chapters of the Gospel. according to Matthew.  Mark’s Gospel sets the sequential chronology of the Harmony of the Gospels while Matthew shares the Gospel to a Jewish audience that would appreciate the rhythm of “teach then practice”.  Use our index to see the entire chronology side by side.
The setting is in Peter’s mother in laws home, not a public place. This passage then provides some insight as to how the early church would live life together. It might also be interesting to note that we have no prior mention of Peter being married. There is no mention of the father-in-law or Peter’s wife. Clement of Alexandria (c. 150 – about 100 years later) does present that Peter had children and a wife.  When Mark wrote his Gospel it was read by those who were contemporaries of Peter and the folks in Capernaum. We have the testimony of the two other Gospelers who also tell of this healing.  Note also that they waited until evening came (at the close of the Sabbath) so as not to break the conventional law.
Luke, the doctor, reports that Jesus rebuked the fever, laid his hand on her and she was healed. Jesus   Peter’s mother-in-law resumes her intention to serve immediately after begin healed. Serving with an attitude of gratitude. In a word they were healed.  In a Jewish sense the word is what brings life and Jesus is the Word. In the baptism of the Holy Spirit there are those who have been given this gift of healing and given the same authority. If we are in need today we can go to one of these folks or to Jesus himself and ask for healing and deliverance.
Word about Jesus has spread and people were moved to go see Jesus and invite others to join them. As a result of their faith and action many more were healed.  Now today we don’t hear much about healing throughout mainline churches – yet healing was not foreign or limited to Jesus time. Many had been healed before as seen in these passages: Numbers 12 a man is healed from leprosy;  1 Sam chapter 1 Hannah receives healing from barrenness; 2 Kings 13 and the bones of Elisha; 2 Kings 5 Naaman is told to wash seven times in the Jordan and be healed.
Notes /listen to last week’s broadcast to learn more about the Jesus’ ministry of deliverance.
Notes – Matthew uses the familiar passage of Isaiah 53, “the consolation of Israel” – read the entire passage to understand more of the messianic parallel to the life of Christ. In Jewish culture chapter 52 reveals that Israel is at a national low and then in chapter 54 the redemption of the nation of Israel is elaborated. So it is with us today, Those who are “laid low” will be “raised up” by grace through faith in Christ. The redemptive work is done and through our faith we experience the reality of the truth.

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Song:  The Final Word, Michael Card

Jesus heals and forgives a demoniac

Week 28, Section 42

Summary: Jesus has gone to the Synagogue on the Sabbath but there encounters a demoniac. Astounding those present, he sets the demoniac free and word of Jesus’ authority spread throughout the region. The Good News is not limited to our salvation but our daily experience of God’s grace and power in our lives as we live Christ (Ephesians 6: 10-15 and 1 Thessalonians 5).

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Matthew Mark 1:21-28 Luke 4:31-37 John
No account of this story 21 They went into Capernauma, and immediately on the Sabbath day he entered into the synagogue and taught. 22 They were astonished at his teaching, for he taught them as having authorityb, and not as the scribes. 23 Immediately there was in their synagogue a man with an unclean spiritc, and he cried out, 24 saying, “Ha! What do we have to do with you, Jesus, you Nazarene? Have you come to destroy usd? I know you who you are: the Holy One of God!” 25 Jesus rebuked him, saying, “Be quiet, and come out of him!” 26 The unclean spirit, convulsing him and crying with a loud voice, came out of him. 27 They were all amazede, so that they questioned among themselves, saying, “What is this? A new teaching? For with authority he commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey him!” 28 The report of him went out immediately everywhere into all the region of Galilee and its surrounding area.f 31 He came down to Capernauma, a city of Galilee. He was teaching them on the Sabbath day, 32 and they were astonished at his teaching, for his word was with authorityb33 In the synagogue there was a man who had a spirit of an unclean demonc, and he cried out with a loud voice,34 saying, “Ah! what have we to do with you, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy usd? I know you who you are: the Holy One of God!” 35 Jesus rebuked him, saying, Be silent, and come out of him!When the demon had thrown him down in the middle of them, he came out of him, having done him no harm. 36 Amazement came on alle, and they spoke together, one with another, saying, “What is this word? For with authority and power he commands the unclean spirits, and they come out!”37 News about him went out into every place of the surrounding region.f No account of this story

** Our online text is from the World English Bible, rights to use this format are granted by Michael Johnson. If you would like to obtain a copy of Thomas & Gundry’s Harmony of the Gospels (NIV) in our exclusive letter-size, loose-leaf PDF, then please contact us via email or phone.    

Study Notes:

Capernaum is Jesus base of ministry. A great majority of his ministry happens here and references Capernaum as in “he set out from ‘C'” or “Jesus returned to ‘C””.
Jesus’ goes to the Synagogue on the Sabbath as was customary of the observant Jew (Luke 4:6; 4:42-44). However “the Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath” (Matt 12:8), still it gave Him opportunity to preach the good news of the kingdom of God to a group the chosen people and a people who were actively seeking God. Indeed, the people there recognizing his authority were in awe. Jesus’ very nature as being God has authority as demonstrated further as the story develops.
The An Unclean Spirit – The Gospels speak openly about the presence and activity Devil and demons.  The devil was once an angelic being, when he rebelled against God, aiming to usurp praise and power to himself he was cast out of heaven and 1/3 of the angels followed him.  If we accept angels then we must also accept the notion and activity of demons among us.  Please understand that demons and the devil are not the yin-yang of God. God is the creator, the author and authority of all creation.
Have you come to destroy us? –  These demons are well aware of Jesus’ identity. They wonder if today will be their last. But God seems to have four step process for dealing with Satan and his minions 1) cast from heaven; 2) cast out of the soul of human beings; 3) overcome by the power of the cross, resurrection and ascension, 4) final judgement.
The evil spirit came our and the people were amazed – Note that demons posses but angels lead us to God and we are filled with the Holy Spirit (not angels). Thus we are filled with God the Spirit – a higher authority than the one filled with a demon(s). Don’t even enter into deliverance (exorcism) unless you are saved, sure of the grace and authority of God,  and then begin with prayer.  Many denominations insist (with good reason) that you have a priest or even a bishop present.  We won’t go any further into this practice today as not even the disciples received this training in this day. Its a lesson for a later time in ministry.
Word spread – its only reasonable and we will in fact see the numbers of followers and disciples grow as a result of the stories of Jesus’ miracles and teachings that people began to share as they traveled from town to town.

relief map Galilee - Capernaum