Sheep’s Pool Healings as a Type of Christian Baptism


Notes on the Gospel Reading for the Sunday of the Paralytic (John 5:1-15).

  • The Cleansing ritual
    • This pool was outside of the Temple, and used to wash down the sacrificial lambs
    • The sick thus participated indirectly in the sacrifices of the Temple
    • The grace was limited to the first person to enter, and was mediated by Angels
    • As a type of the Christian baptism to come
      • Through water comes the healing
      • “An angel” so that they would know that divine power is working through this water, not just the water itself
      • Baptism is a direct participation into Christ’s death (Romans 6:3) and Resurrection
      • Baptism is available to all nations and the grace of baptism is never extinguished
      • Christ singles out the Paralytic, a man who has waited 38 years, to teach us to have perseverance, and as a judgment against those who lose hope or patience with God during far shorter trials
      • Christ’s Dialogue with the Paralytic
        • Christ asks the Paralytic if he wishes to be healed
          • To publicize the man’s 38 years of perseverance in the face of hopelessness
          • To underscore that not everyone who is sick actually wishes to be healed; some prefer to wallow in their illness, to receive the pity of others
  • The Paralytic responds that he has no man to help him. This is to show that it is not just the water that heals, but it comes with the help of a man.  Christ is the man who has come to help him and all other people be healed and set free
  • Faith contrasted with Legalism
    • The Paralytic is healed, but the Pharisees find fault, because he carries his bed on the Sabbath; they miss the forest for the trees
    • The Paralytic goes to the Temple to thank God immediately, because of his faith
    • Physical infirmity and sin
      • “Sin no more lest a worse thing come upon you.” St. John Chrysostom teaches that in this case, the man’s sin led to his illness
      • Sin and illness are not always related, but sometimes they are
      • Regardless of whether they are related, the man is commanded to sin no more, because worse things will happen to him, i.e. eternal damnation
      • When we are granted a healing by God, we must remain healthy and free from sin, lest having been saved, we fall away

 

Much of the above material came from the Orthodox Study Bible:


Leave a Reply