Alan Culpeper notes that the protagonist in this passage, the man at the pool, is one of the most enigmatic in John’s characters. He only appears in this scene and his response to Jesus is something unusual.
What is noteworthy in the passage is the attitude and form of the healing of the man in the pool.
First, it was not the man who initiated the healing but Jesus, “Do you want to be well” (5:6). The only replied to Jesus’ inquisition. Second, Jesus rebuffs the request but the man is evasive. “Sir I have no one to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up.” (5:7)Third, Jesus gives instructions that will grant the request. “Stand up, take you mat and walk.” (5:8) Fourth, the other person complies with Jesus’ order, and the sign is accomplished. “At once the man was made well, and he took up his mat and began to walk.”(5:9). Fifth, the sign is verified by a third party. “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. Then lastly, there is a response in faith. “The man went away and told the Jews that it was Jesus who had made him well.” (5:15)
The man’s healing shows Jesus authority to heal even if it against the law. It is clear how Jesus shows the greatest law of all – that is to love. But what I find problematic in this passage is the attitude of the man being healed. I think is ungrateful. “Wala siyang utang na loob”. – that after had healed him he did not even say a single word of gratitude. Instead, he repeatedly blame Jesus.
When the man evades at first to be healed, however, Jesus initiated the process of healing. He offered. Yet, still the man was reluctant by blaming others and he could not get into the pool, yet Jesus healed him. After he is being healed, and when the Jews charged the man for violating Sabbath, again the man put the blame of his action to someone else, to Jesus. And then again, when Jesus asks him to sin no more, he reported Jesus to the Jews as the one who healed him at Sabbath. He blames Jesus so that he would not be in troubled. And it turned out Jesus is the one who is in trouble.
I find the man being healed “walang utang na loob.” Yet, in spite to the man’s ungrateful attitude Jesus did not blame him. Instead, Jesus continuously healed him and showed to him the greatest love of all.
manny amanence, sj