There are two very important questions in these verses that hold life-changing answers:
1. Do you want to get well?
Jesus has come to Jerusalem for one of the Jewish festivals. As Jesus comes into the city, he passes the pool called Bethesda. There was a legend about this pool that from time to time an angel or some divine force would come and touch the waters causing them to move. When this occurred, the first person to get into the pool would be healed of any disease or infirmity. A number of people in need of healing would gather around the pool each day, hoping to be the first to enter the pool when the waters were disturbed.
Jesus surveys the crowd and notices one man, a paralytic, lying near the pool, and yet not as close to the edge as some others. Jesus learns that this man had been an invalid for 38 years, and the story seems to imply that he was a frequent visitor to the pool at Bethesda. Jesus asked this man, “Do you want to get well?” The man made the effort to show up at the pool hoping for a miracle, but he seemed to be intimidated by the crowd who had friends to help them get to the pool faster. When Jesus questioned him, the man explains that there is no one to help him get to the pool. He says that although he tries, someone else is always faster and gets to the pool first.
Jesus sensed the feelings of fear, futility, and depression in this man who came to the place to be healed but seemed to know he would not be quick enough to get the miracle. Perhaps the man had doubts and was afraid that even if he got to the pool first, he would still not be healed. “Do you want to get well?” If you are healed, your life will change. You will have the ability to be of service to others. You will be able to do more in service to God. Do you want that responsibility? Do you want to change your life? Do you want to get well? What would your answer be? Sometimes the simplest questions are the hardest to answer. We let our fears get in the way and keep us from putting our faith into action.
Jesus tells the man to “Get up! Pick up your mat and walk.” Immediately the man is cured and able to walk. No atrophied muscles, no staggering steps, no relearning how to use his legs…he picked up his mat and WALKED!
2. Who is this fellow…?
At first, no one seemed to recognize the man as the invalid of 38 years as he walks away from the pool, but the Jewish leaders noticed a man carrying a burden in excess of the permitted limit for the Sabbath. The man responds that he was told to pick up his mat and walk by the man who healed him. The Jewish leaders asked, “Who is this fellow who told you to pick up your mat and walk?” Jesus had walked away into the crowd and the man was unable to show the Jewish leaders who had healed him. Later Jesus saw the man at the temple and encouraged him to turn his life around and stop sinning. Then the man told the Jewish leaders that Jesus was the one who healed him.
Now the Jewish leaders turned on Jesus. How dare you heal this man on the Sabbath? Who is this fellow? Jesus' defense was to point out that God, His Father, works every day, even today on this very Sabbath,” SO I TOO AM WORKING!” “This fellow” is the one who loves me, is equal with God, and in every day of my life, “HE TOO IS WORKING.”