illuminated medical symbol

John 5:10 – 15 continued

[New to our exegesis of John’s Gospel? Try starting at The Beginning — see top menu for John 1:1-2].

Now that day was a Sabbath. 10 So the Jews said to the man who had been cured, “It is the Sabbath; it is not lawful for you to carry your mat.” 11 But he answered them, “The man who made me well said to me, ‘Take up your mat and walk.’ ” 12 They asked him, “Who is the man who said to you, ‘Take it up and walk’?” 13 Now the man who had been healed did not know who it was, for Jesus had disappeared in the crowd that was there. 14 Later Jesus found him in the temple and said to him, “See, you have been made well! Do not sin any more, so that nothing worse happens to you.” 15 The man went away and told the Jews that it was Jesus who had made him well. 

Ἦν δὲ σάββατον ἐν ἐκείνῃ τῇ ἡμέρᾳ. 10 ἔλεγον οὖν οἱ Ἰουδαῖοι τῷ τεθεραπευμένῳ· Σάββατόν ἐστιν, καὶ οὐκ ἔξεστίν σοι ἆραι τὸν κράβαττον. 11 ὃς δὲ 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 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 ἀνήγγειλεν τοῖς Ἰουδαίοις ὅτι Ἰησοῦς ἐστιν ὁ ποιήσας αὐτὸν ὑγιῆ. 

Just a Bunch of Snake Oil?

The man healed by Jesus is confused; he doesn’t know who healed him or anything about him. He is caught by the Religious Authorities carrying his mat on the sabbath and immediately blames the one who healed him! This is typical human behavior: blaming! He threw his healer under the bus to the authorities, and surely he knew these religious police do not treat such things lightly.

Notably, Jesus finds him later. He sought him out. I wonder if he did so concerned that he might have been pulled over for mat-carrying earlier, and to see if he was okay from that experience with the authorities? In any event, he told him not to sin anymore. That seems odd for us. If we get a disease or disability we don’t normally think sin is the cause. Jesus didn’t always think that either, as evidenced in other parts of Scripture (e.g. John 9), but here he makes the association.

In my experience as both a pastor and a person who sins, many of our maladies come from bad behavior and the results thereof. Others do not. Some seem to visit us randomly and are no fault of our own except that we share a common malady as human beings: the brokenness of humanity and creation stemming from Genesis 3.

But back to the healing. Two words are used related to this man’s restoration: heal (ἰαθεὶς in v. 13), and made well (ὑγιὴς in verse 14) or more commonly translated made whole. Made whole is particularly interesting. The greek word ὑγιὴς (English transliteration is hugiés and pronounced hoog-ee-ace’) goes back to the Greek goddess Hygieia — the goddess of health and cleanliness — and where we get our word hygiene. The word was used by Aristotle to mean health but the fuller sense of the word is “having a vigorous life, vital force, long life.”

The very first Hippocratic oath included the goddess Hygieia and her image in ancient Greece was a woman holding the snake of Wisdom sipping from a bowl of medicine (potions) — the same serpent of Wisdom, which appears on the caduceus, the staff of Aesculapius, which is the symbol of medicine even today.

Where am I going with this? Jesus, perhaps discerning this man’s particular struggles, appears to have gone further than a physical healing — Jesus made him whole. This wholeness is explicitly here one of physical healing and forgiveness of sin, the latter reserved only for God. God’s healing goes deeper than what we might think is a healing.

And, when one is truly healed, resistance begins: we get called on the mat!

And you thought following Jesus was all peaches and cream!