Sunday of the Paralytic
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5:1 After this there was a feast of the Jews, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem.
2 Now there is in Jerusalem by the Sheep Gate a pool, in Hebrew called Bethzatha, which has five porticoes.
3 In these lay a multitude of invalids, blind, lame, paralyzed.
5 One man was there, who had been ill for thirty-eight years.
6 When Jesus saw him and knew that he had been lying there a long time, he said to him, "Do you want to be healed?"
7 The sick man answered him, "Sir, I have no man to put me into the pool when the water is troubled, and while I am going another steps down before me."
8 Jesus said to him, "Rise, take up your pallet, and walk."
9 And at once the man was healed, and he took up his pallet and walked. Now that day was the sabbath.
10 So the Jews said to the man who was cured, "It is the sabbath, it is not lawful for you to carry your pallet."
11 But he answered them, "The man who healed me said to me, 'Take up your pallet, and walk.'"
12 They asked him, "Who is the man who said to you, 'Take up your pallet, and walk'?"
13 Now the man who had been healed did not know who it was, for Jesus had withdrawn, as there was a crowd in the place.
14 Afterward, Jesus found him in the temple, and said to him, "See, you are well! Sin no more, that nothing worse befall you."
15 The man went away and told the Jews that it was Jesus who had healed him.
1 ΜΕΤΑ ταῦτα ἦν ἡ ἑορτὴ τῶν Ἰουδαίων, καὶ ἀνέβη ὁ Ἰησοῦς εἰς Ἱεροσόλυμα.
2 ἔστι δὲ ἐν τοῖς Ἱεροσολύμοις ἐπὶ τῇ προβατικῇ κολυμβήθρᾳ, ἡ ἐπιλεγομένη ἑβραϊστὶ Βηθεσδά, πέντε στοὰς ἔχουσα.
3 ἐν ταύταις κατέκειτο πλῆθος πολὺ τῶν ἀσθενούντων, τυφλῶν, χωλῶν, ξηρῶν, ἐκδεχομένων τὴν τοῦ ὕδατος κίνησιν.
4 ἄγγελος γὰρ κατὰ καιρὸν κατέβαινεν ἐν τῇ κολυμβήθρᾳ, καὶ ἐταράσσετο τὸ ὕδωρ· ὁ οὖν πρῶτος ἐμβὰς μετὰ τὴν ταραχὴν τοῦ ὕδατος ὑγιὴς ἐγίνετο ᾧ δήποτε κατείχετο νοσήματι.
5 ἦν δέ τις ἄνθρωπος ἐκεῖ τριάκοντα καὶ ὀκτὼ ἔτη ἔχων ἐν τῇ ἀσθενείᾳ αὐτοῦ.
6 τοῦτον ἰδὼν ὁ Ἰησοῦς κατακείμενον, καὶ γνοὺς ὅτι πολὺν ἤδη χρόνον ἔχει, λέγει αὐτῷ· θέλεις ὑγιὴς γενέσθαι;
7 ἀπεκρίθη αὐτῷ ὁ ἀσθενῶν· Κύριε, ἄνθρωπον οὐκ ἔχω, ἵνα ὅταν ταραχθῇ τὸ ὕδωρ, βάλῃ με εἰς τὴν κολυμβήθραν· ἐν ᾧ δὲ ἔρχομαι ἐγώ, ἄλλος πρὸ ἐμοῦ καταβαίνει.
8 λέγει αὐτῷ ὁ Ἰησοῦς· ἔγειρε, ἆρον τὸν κράβαττόν σου καὶ περιπάτει.
9 καὶ εὐθέως ἐγένετο ὑγιὴς ὁ ἄνθρωπος, καὶ ἦρε τὸν κράβαττον αὐτοῦ καὶ περιεπάτει. ἦν δὲ σάββατον ἐν ἐκείνῃ τῇ ἡμέρᾳ.
10 ἔλεγον οὖν οἱ Ἰουδαῖοι τῷ τεθεραπευμένῳ· σάββατόν ἐστιν· οὐκ ἔξεστί σοι ἆραι τὸν κράβαττον.
11 ἀπεκρίθη αὐτοῖς· ὁ ποιήσας με ὑγιῆ, ἐκεῖνός μοι εἶπεν· ἆρον τὸν κράβαττόν σου καὶ περιπάτει.
12 ἠρώτησαν οὖν αὐτόν· τίς ἐστιν ὁ ἄνθρωπος ὁ εἰπών σοι, ἆρον τὸν κράβαττόν σου καὶ περιπάτει;
13 ὁ δὲ ἰαθεὶς οὐκ ᾔδει τίς ἐστιν· ὁ γὰρ Ἰησοῦς ἐξένευσεν ὄχλου ὄντος ἐν τῷ τόπῳ.
14 μετὰ ταῦτα εὑρίσκει αὐτὸν ὁ Ἰησοῦς ἐν τῷ ἱερῷ καὶ εἶπεν αὐτῷ· ἴδε ὑγιὴς γέγονας· μηκέτι ἁμάρτανε, ἵνα μὴ χεῖρόν σοί τι γένηται.
15 ἀπῆλθεν ὁ ἄνθρωπος καὶ ἀνήγγειλε τοῖς Ἰουδαίοις ὅτι Ἰησοῦς ἐστιν ὁ ποιήσας αὐτὸν ὑγιῆ.
Larger Thought Unit
Chapter five consists of one self-contained thought unit. Our reading today is the first 15 verses of the chapter and relates the story of the healing of the paralytic. While we concentrate on the story in our Sunday reading, it serves in fact as an introduction to the rest of the chapter that ends up being (after a quick dialogue) one long monologue by Christ. It is Christ’s teaching that is the real substance for which the miracle functions as the authenticating sign.
Since the New Jerusalem, God’s heavenly city, contains the tree of life whose leaves are “for the healing of the nations” (Rev 22:2), last Sunday’s reading invited us to realize that his healing power was not bound to the Jerusalem temple. Today’s reading invites us to understand that this power was not bound to the synagogue either, which congregated on the Sabbath prescribed by the Mosaic Law (symbolized by the pool with five porticoes). The message of the resurrection is hinted to in the thrice reference to the command “take up your pallet and walk” (vv.8, 11, 12), which is introduced with the command “rise” (ἔγειρε).
However, as Paul systematically taught (Gal 5:16-26; Rom 8:1-14), this “freedom” is not to construed as a license to do whatever we please, but rather to “walk,” i.e., according to the law of Christ (Gal 6:2) and of the spirit of life (Rom 8:2), whose command is to “sin no more” (Jn 5:14). That is after all what Jesus’ resurrection is all about, a new ‘way of life’ and not ‘orthodox formulas of belief’:
Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life… The death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus. Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal bodies, to make you obey their passions. Do not yield your members to sin as instruments of wickedness, but yield yourselves to God as men who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments of righteousness. For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace. (Rom 6:3-4, 10-14)
Charles H. Talbert, Reading John, Crossroads Publishing Company, NY, NY, 1992; pp. 121ff.
Paul Nadim Tarazi, New Testament Introduction, Vol.3: Johannine Writings, St Vladimir’s Seminary Press, Crestwood, NY, 2004; pp.165-8.