RE: [John_Lit] ??? Man healed by the pool
Does anyone have any insight to what was going on in John 5:14-15?
While I don't want to claim that I have the definitive word on this text, I
do have a chapter of my book "Reading with a Passion" (Continuum, 1995--just
released in paperback) that is devoted to John 5 and 9. I take a minority
view--that the figure is not nearly as negative as most scholars make him
out to be.
Also Francisco Lozada has recently written extensively on this text.
Thanks to all that responded to my questions regarding Jesus statement to the
man who was healed by the pool to stop sinning and the man's response of
going and telling the Jews who Jesus was. (esp. the recognition that the
phrase "Go and sin no more" is said by Jesus in the temple to the woman
caught in adultery AND Jeff Staley's response).
This is what I came up with:
The Jews were unhappy with the man for carrying his mat on the Sabbath. They
told him that he had broken the law by carrying his mat. They labeled that
action as sin and given the man a lot of grief.
Jesus finds the man in the temple and tells him, "You have been made well.
Stop sinning, so that nothing worse happens to you."
Perhaps Jesus had his tongue firmly planted in his cheek when he made his
Maybe what Jesus said (through his tone of voice and manner) was something
Hey, you are well already, you don't need keep to keep walking around with
that mat of yours. You should toe the line, or else the Jews are gonna give
you even more hell.
meaning something like:
Your "sinning" (picking up the mat and walking with it) has demonstrated that
you are now well. Unless you stop "sinning" (i.e., and start following
Torah), the Jews will bring even more problems upon you (but you need to
decide what you will do).
It seems natural for Jesus to communicate to the man, "Yes, the Jews are
upset at you, but I have made you well. Follow me." and to do it in a way
that pokes fun at the Jews.
Once the man realizes who Jesus is and Jesus' authority over Torah, he takes
the risk of the Jew's displeasure (indeed the certain risk!) and goes out to
boldly proclaims that it was Jesus who had healed him.
Why do I suggest such a meaning that is contrary to the plain meaning of the
John has had its share of irony up to this point. Several individuals have
spoken words they didn't understand the full meaning of. (Nichodemus... I
see you are a teacher who has come from God) (The woman at the well... You
are a prophet...)
Jesus has said things in order to elicit a response... (to Mary... what is
that to you and me) (to the woman at the well... go and get your husband)
(to the royal official... unless you see signs and wonders...)
It is hard for me to not see the Jew's response as a little cartoonish--that
they are being made fun of (by the author). Here this man has been healed
and instead of showing any compassion or joy at the healing--they respond
with a legalism of, "Hey, you there, with the mat, you're sinning!)
Also, the only discussion of sinning that takes place in the passage is the
Jews accusing the man healed of sinning by carrying his mat.
My solution answers the question of what Jesus meant by "something worse
happening to him."
I would really appreciate a response to these suggestions, especially those
of you in the "reader's response" camp and those that see ongoing humor in
the first part of the gospel.
MDIV Fuller Theological Seminary
High School Math Teacher
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