Jesus’ Life of Love
Jesus Heals a Lame Man: Lesson Four
Mother Teresa showed her understanding for the deep need of every human being when she said, “Hunger is not only for bread. Hunger is for love, to be loved, to be wanted.”
When she was 38, this devout nun left her job as a teacher at a Catholic girls’ school and began working amongst the poorest of the poor on the streets of Calcutta, (now officially Kolkata) India. Her goal was not to prolong life, convert people or help individuals escape from a life of poverty. Her desire was simply to unconditionally love people with the love of God. Mother Teresa understood that the deepest need of the human soul is to be loved.
God is love and we were created to be in unity with Him. But Satan opposes that. Through our inability to obey the commandments of the law, he thunders, “Guilty!” “Condemned!” “Sinner!” “You are unworthy of God’s love!” With intense fury the devil seeks to keep us from believing in the love of God. If our minds can’t believe it, we won’t be free to live loved and be the people God created us to be. And so, using the law as his impossible-to-obey measuring stick, Satan rages on with his legalistic attack.
Jesus came to renew us in spirit, soul and body. He came to show us a new way of thinking and living—in Spirit-to-spirit union with the Father. His desire is for our soul (mind) that thinks and lives by the law to be transformed, so that we think and live in love. Seeing Jesus’ person-to-person interactions with broken humanity helps us be transformed in this way.
In John chapter 5, when Jesus heals a lame man, we get a picture of our Father through the compassionate actions of His Son. We see God’s heart as Jesus reaches out to this lame man lying helpless on his pallet. Then, when the Jews confront Jesus over the healing, we see how they used the law to directly oppose the love of God.
Read John 5:1–20:
1Some time later, Jesus went up to Jerusalem for one of the Jewish festivals. 2Now there is in Jerusalem near the Sheep Gate a pool, which in Aramaic is called Bethesda and which is surrounded by five covered colonnades. 3Here a great number of disabled people used to lie—the blind, the lame, the paralyzed.  5One who was there had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. 6When Jesus saw him lying there and learned that he had been in this condition for a long time, he asked him, “Do you want to get well?”
7“Sir,” the invalid replied, “I have no one to help me into the pool when the water is stirred. While I am trying to get in, someone else goes down ahead of me.”
8Then Jesus said to him, “Get up! Pick up your mat and walk.” 9At once the man was cured; he picked up his mat and walked.
The day on which this took place was a Sabbath, 10and so the Jewish leaders said to the man who had been healed, “It is the Sabbath; the law forbids you to carry your mat.”
11But he replied, “The man who made me well said to me, ‘Pick up your mat and walk.’”
12So they asked him, “Who is this fellow who told you to pick it up and walk?”
13The man who was healed had no idea who it was, for Jesus had slipped away into the crowd that was there.
14Later Jesus found him at the temple and said to him, “See, you are well again. Stop sinning or something worse may happen to you.” 15The man went away and told the Jewish leaders that it was Jesus who had made him well.
16So, because Jesus was doing these things on the Sabbath, the Jewish leaders began to persecute him. 17In his defense Jesus said to them, “My Father is always at his work to this very day, and I too am working.” 18For this reason they tried all the more to kill him; not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God.
19Jesus gave them this answer: “Very truly I tell you, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does. 20For the Father loves the Son and shows him all he does. Yes, and he will show him even greater works than these, so that you will be amazed.”
- Imagine the lame man beside the pool, waiting and waiting … for 38 years. What might that have been like?
- How do you think the lame man felt about himself as he lay helpless beside the pool? How do you think he felt about those who had stepped into the waters ahead of him? How do you think he felt about God?
- In your own words, describe Jesus’ interactions with the lame man.
- What do you think motivated or compelled Jesus to act as He did?
- How might Jesus’ interaction with the lame man have changed the way this man thought and felt about himself? Others? God?
- Recall and describe a time when you were treated with unexpected love and respect. How did that affect you?
- How did the Jews respond to the lame man’s healing?
- What in their heart might have caused them to act this way?
- In this passage, how does the legalism of the Jews oppose the love of God?
- Jesus used the response of the Jews as an opportunity to speak truth. In what ways do Jesus’ words in verse 17 simultaneously address their complaint and expound on who He is?
- What is verse 20 saying to you personally?
- Recall and describe a time when you treated someone with God-led compassion. How did that experience affect you? How did the other person respond?
Put yourself in the lame man’s place. You are helpless on your mat beside the pool. For 38 years you have lain there—lonely and uncared for. Thousands have passed you by … but Jesus stops … He bends down … He looks into your eyes … with compassion He speaks, “Do you want to get well?”
Allow your heart to respond as the scene unfolds in your mind.