John 5:1-9 What Kind of Question is That?

After this there was a feast of the Jews, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem.

Now there is in Jerusalem by the Sheep Gate a pool, in Aramaic called Bethesda, which has five roofed colonnades. In these lay a multitude of invalids—blind, lame, and paralysed. One man was there who had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him lying there and knew that he had already been there a long time, he said to him, “Do you want to be healed?” The sick man answered him, “Sir, I have no one to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up, and while I am going another steps down before me.” Jesus said to him, “Get up, take up your bed, and walk.” And at once the man was healed, and he took up his bed and walked.

What Kind of Question is That?

Jesus asks people if they want to be healed?  This is not the only time.  Isn’t that obvious?  The invalid had been there for a long time.  Jesus, though does not act in a person’s life regardless of their will.  He treats the invalid as a person and forces them to participate in their healing by choosing it.  The invalid exercises faith when he chooses to get up and walk in response to Jesus.

Some of us have been invalids for years.  We are used to making excuses why we are not healed.  We say that it is not up to us.  Someone else has not rescued us; they have not helped us.  We may not have a physical ailment that everyone can see.  We may have a chronic sense of feeling unloved.  We may be anxious about the future.  We may have a pattern of failed relationships which we put down to bad luck or bad matches.  There are ways that we protect ourselves from change, but secretly we wish for a different life.  Then Jesus asks, “Do you want to be healed?” We think we do, but when he tells us to get up and start following his directions we respond with fighting, fleeing, or freezing.  Are you frozen by the side of the pool?  Are you running from Jesus’ healing?  Are you angry at God because you are unwilling to accept the changes he wants to bring in your life?

It’s time to ‘get up, take up your bed, and walk.’


I can be arrogant and think that I have arrived.  I can be blind and ignorant of my next step of growth.  I can be too busy and forget that life is about relationship.  I can be stuck by the side of the pool, unable to see my need to be healed.  Work your healing in us.  Help us to get up and walk wherever you are going to lead.


  1. Where did Jesus go?
  2. Why did Jesus ask a question that would have seemed so obvious?
  3. How long did it take the man to respond?
  4. What is the next step Jesus is calling you to take in spiritual growth?
  5. Do you want to be healed?

About Plymothian

I teach at Moody Bible Institute in Chicago. My interests include education, biblical studies, and spiritual formation. I have been married to Kelli since 1998 and we have two children, Daryl and Amelia. For recreation I like to run, play soccer, play board games, read and travel.
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22 Responses to John 5:1-9 What Kind of Question is That?

  1. Amy McCashen says:

    1. To the pool of Bethesda
    2. He wanted to have the sick man participate in and choose his healing.
    3. Instantly! He wanted to be healed.
    4. I think God wants me to grow in prayer-my conversations with him. I want to pray more.
    5. Yes! I want a deeper, more intimate relationship with God.

  2. Sara Cavitt says:

    1) Jesus went to a pool called Bethesda where people with physical ailments lay.
    2) It was a moment for the man’s faith to be tested. Jesus had the power to do anything, but the man had to be willing to respond.
    3) Once Jesus told him to get up and walk, the man had faith and was healed.
    4) Lately, I have been having some fears and anxiety in different areas of my life, such as in my future. I know this is a period in my life where I need to trust Him to guide my steps and give Him control of my life rather than worrying about it.
    5) I do want to be healed, so I will continue to seek after Him, because I know He is the healer.

  3. Mary says:

    1. Jesus went up to Jerusalem for one of the annual Jewish festivals at stopped at the pool of Bethesda
    2. Maybe Jesus was preparing the man’s heart and mind for the gift of healing that he was about to receive.
    3. The man got up immediately
    4. To meditate on Scripture more.
    5. Yes. I crave reading Scripture, and am always fulfilled when I take my time in studying it and praying about the truths I have learned. I need to be more patient with my spiritual growth and stop comparing myself (negatively) to other more seasoned Christians who have years of experience on me.

  4. 1) Where did Jesus go? “To a pool in Bethesda called Sheep Gate.”
    2) Why did Jesus ask a question that would have seemed so obvious? “Because it seems as
    though He wanted the man to choose to see His power worked out in his life.”
    3) How long did it take the man to respond? “He responded with no hesitation. The passage says that he was made well and rose ‘immediately’.”
    4) What is the next step Jesus is calling you to take in spiritual growth? “To be released from fear of accepting what God wants me to do and go in the life.”
    5) Do you want to be healed? “Yes.”

  5. Jenna says:

    1. Jesus went to the pool of Bethesda.
    2. Jesus wanted the man to ask for healing – just like today how we sometimes don’t ask God for help to our problems; we try and fix them ourselves.
    3. He responded “at once” in faith by getting up!
    4. I think Jesus is calling me to stop trying to please people and live up to imagined expectations that I think people have on me.
    5. I do, desperately.

  6. Janice Lee says:

    1. Jesus went to the pool of Bethesda.
    2. Jesus asked a question that seemed so obvious because He wanted the man to recognize his need.
    3. The man responded immediately.
    4. Jesus is calling me to trust in Him completely for the future and to love Him above all else.
    5. Yes, I want to be healed.

  7. Kathleen says:

    1. He went to the pool of Bethesda.
    2. He wanted to see the man make a decision to want to be healed.
    3. At once the man was healed.
    4. The next step for me is to trust the Lord completely with my future. I know He has a plan. I need to trust that He will reveal which directions I need to go on His timing.
    5. Absolutely!

  8. Lacy says:

    1. Jesus went to the pool of Bethesda.
    2. Faith that he could be healed and a willingness to be a participant in his own healing were crucial.
    3. The man did not answer Jesus’ question; instead, he exhibited a despair that he would ever be healed.
    4. God is challenging me to grow in my prayer life.
    5. I want to continue being healed.

  9. Ashley says:

    1. Jesus went up to Jerusalem.
    2. I think Jesus wanted to make the man think. He wanted the man to admit his position of weakness and call to the Lord for help.
    3. I don’t know…I’d guess he would have looked Jesus square in the eye for three seconds that seemed like an eternity, and then answered with the conviction of his words.
    4. Jesus seems to be teaching me what he has always tried to teach me—to trust in him. I am naturally very fearful going into next semester. I am nervous to student teach, but also nervous to leave Moody and the community that has enveloped me. Since my family is so far away, I feel very rootless and often quite alone in America. I am learning that Christ is enough. I am beginning to realize that my thoughts are made up of dreams. I want good and pure things, but I am realizing that God may choose to make these idealistic hopes come to pass. I am beginning to process that all that I long for is a shadow—a mere symbol –of the satisfaction and contentment and intimacy I have with Christ.
    5. Yes, I do.

  10. Bethany says:

    1. To the Pool of Bethesda
    2. He wanted the man to think and realize that he himself wanted to be healed
    3. The man was healed immediately
    4. God is teaching me to not be so self-consumed, but to put others above myself
    5. Yes, I would like to continue being healed

  11. Sarah Deurbrouck says:

    1. Where did Jesus go?
    He went up to Jerusalem for the Jewish feast.
    2. Why did Jesus ask a question that would have seemed so obvious?
    He was questioning the man’s heart.
    3. How long did it take the man to respond?
    Well, he never really answers Jesus question. He gives an excuse for why he hasn’t been healed yet (a pretty lame answer in my opinion. He couldn’t make it to the water for 38 years? Really?).
    4. What is the next step Jesus is calling you to take in spiritual growth?
    He has been teaching me his truth all my life. It has been put to the test in small ways along the way. I think I am now at the point in my life where the truths of Jesus’ words are actually being put to the test. I need to have the faith (through him) to step out in boldness.
    5. Do you want to be healed?

  12. Rachel says:

    Jesus went to Jerusalem, to a pool called Bethesda. Jesus asked because had the power to answer. The man answered right away, of course he wanted to be healed! But he was powerless to make it happen.
    Jesus wants to heal me from bitterness and pain. I don’t want to be healed. I want to be in control and if that means choosing the painful path, then that is what I choose. I know my breaking point is drawing near. I long to be whole and treasured and loved but I am filled with fear.

  13. tim pruiett says:

    1. to a pool called bethseda.
    2. Jesus was testing the man’s faith and seeing if he would trust Him.
    4. The next step for me would probably for me to act upon that promise and get off my mat and walk
    5. YES

  14. Dylan says:

    1. The pool of Bethesda in Jerusalem.
    2. Jesus asks the obvious question so that the man might demonstrate his free will. Also, if Jesus had said something like, “God will use your condition for his glory” right off the bat, he would have been making the assumption that the man was not content with his disability. However, Jesus always makes the truth known, never with hidden assumptions.
    3. The man responded right away but I don’t think the content of his response matched his intent. His call for sympathy though showed Jesus he wanted to be healed.
    4. I think the next step Jesus wants me to take toward spiritual growth is to recognize my specific sins and confess them to fellow believers. I often find myself using language like “I used to so this, but now I’ve been healed and am stable in my walk.” Perhaps it’s the intellectual side of faith that provokes this. In reality, everyone is going through something. I think I need to show more brokenness.
    5. Yes! But I also want to show brokenness, this seems like a bit of a paradox. I will ask God to forgive me and heal me from the damage of my sins.

  15. Beth Coale says:

    1. where the “people who needed a doctor” were
    2. because He was respecting the dignity of that person. Also, the man first had to acknowledge that he wanted to be healed and request help from God first.
    3. It doesn’t exactly say, but probably immediately.
    4. This has actually been a really meaningful passage to me. I am reminded not to let myself be chained and imprisoned to a destructive mindset or habit. Someone once compared doing that to a prisoner continuing to sit in a tiny, filthy prison cell with the door wide open. It’s stupid, but we sometimes do it.
    5. I do want to be healed, but sometimes I act like I don’t

  16. Dominic Shortridge says:

    2. Jesus asks the man a seemingly obvious question, but the man’s response is not a simple response, but an excuse and a plea for pity from Jesus. As the man responds by describing the lack of support from his fellow countrymen, Jesus has already declared his authority and power over the man’s body, and commands him to move from his spot. I often over look the aspect of what it means for Jesus to command the invalid man to leave the spot that he has been seated in for so many years of his life. This man knows comfort and dependency. He has inevitably felt these while plotting himself in that spot near the pool day after day, year after year. However, his dependency on the charity and pity of others has evaporated and presipitated into a life of “next steps” or so to say, new life in Christ.

  17. Rebekah Thompson (Bekah) says:

    1) He went to Jerusalem
    2) Because he wanted to form a relationship, to show that he sees him, to have a purpose, to communicate.
    3)Not long at all, he responded in a way, that i interpret to be, I have waited for so long, I can’t even do this…and oh how I would love to do it.
    4) Being satisfied in Him…completely.
    5) Yes

  18. Karas says:

    I really like how you said that Jesus “treats the invalid as a person and forces them to participate in their healing by choosing it.” I think that’s why Jesus, at the Pool of Bethesda, asks the man the seemingly obvious question. I think the Lord also knew the reasons why the man had not received healing yet and had a specific reason for forming the question as He did. The man’s answer makes it seem like the question was warranted, because he didn’t ask why Jesus would ask such a dumb question, but rather gave an excuse before answering. I think of this in actually giving up bad habits. I may say I want to, for example, not eat junk and eat healthy, but when it comes down to it, do I really want to, or do I need to ask God to help me want to? I think what I’m realizing is that I need God’s help to even want the right things, to even want to be healed.

  19. nataliaria says:

    In this passage, Jesus goes to Jerusalem, to a pool called Bathesda.

    Jesus asks the paralyzed man if he wants to be healed in order to engage with the man. While Jesus certainly could have simply waved His hands and zapped the infirmity right out of the man, this question speaks volumes of Jesus’ view of human dignity, and His value for individual interaction with those He comes across.

    The passage gives the impression that each of the man’s responses were instantaneous; he believed immediately, and he was healed.

    I do very much want to be healed, and to continue to grow in unity and conformity with Christ. I believe that the step that I am currently in in this process is one of developing a firmer and more steady foundation in my relationship with Christ. I want to develop convictions that are not easily shaken, and a heart for Him that is not easily tainted by the offerings of the world, not matter how tempting they may be.

  20. zacbodine says:

    I find it amazing that Jesus invites the man to choose to be healed or not. Jesus intrudes but in the most amazing way that it makes us fall in love with him! How interesting it is though that Jesus notices the man that no one else notices or cares for and the man then uses those people as an excuse for unbelief or lack of action. I have done that this week. I need to stop that.

  21. Nick says:

    Jesus went up to Jerusalem cause there was a feast of the Jews. Jesus asked the obvious question because he wanted to include the lame man in the decision to be healed and give the man the opportunity to exercise faith. He showed faith by immediately getting up and walking when Jesus tells him to get up and walk. Jesus is asking me to get up and completely focus my life on him. Sometimes I lose focus on him and he is calling me to come back to him.

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