Theophylact_the_Bulgarian (1)On John 5:1-15.

Understand the sheep’s pool to represent the grace of Baptism, in which the Sheep sacrificed for us, the Lord Jesus, was washed when He was baptized for our sake.

This pool has five porches, symbolizing the four great virtues plus the divine contemplation of dogma which are revealed in Baptism.

Human nature, paralyzed in all its spiritual powers, lay sick for thirty-eight years.

It was not sound in its belief in the Holy Trinity (i.e. 3), nor did it have a sure belief in the eighth age (i.e. 8), that is, the general Resurrection and the Last Judgement.

This is why it could not find healing, for it did not have any man to put it into the pool.

That is to say, the Son of God, Who intended to heal through Baptism, had not yet been made man.

But when He was made man, then He healed our nature and commanded us to take up our bed, that is, lift up our body from the earth, making it light and free, not weighted down by flesh and earthly cares, and raising it from slothfulness so that it is able to walk, which means, active in doing good.

The troubling of the water in the pool suggests the stirring up the evil spirits lurking in the waters of Baptism, crushing and choking them by the grace of the Holy Spirit.

May we also obtain healing, for we are paralyzed and motionless in the doing of anything good; we also have no man, that is, no human and rational thought, which distinguishes us from the irrational beasts, to carry us into the pool of tears of repentance, in which the first who enters is healed.

He who procrastinates and puts off his repentance until later, and does not hurry to repent now, does not obtain healing. Hasten to be the first to enter this pool, lest death overtake you.

And there is an angel which troubles this pool of repentance. What angel is it? The Angel of Great Counsel of the Father, Christ the Saviour. (see Is. 9:6).

For unless the divine Word touches our heart and troubles it with thought of the torments of the age to come, this pool cannot become active and effective, and there is no healing for the paralyzed soul.

The pool of repentance may also fittingly be called a sheep’s pool; for in it are washed like sheep the inward parts and thoughts of the saints who are made ready to become a living sacrifice pleasing to God, making them innocent and guileless.

May we also obtain healing, and afterwards be found in God’s holy temple, no longer stained by unholy thoughts, lest a worse thing, the eternal torments, come unto us.

Theophylact of Ohrid (1055-1107): Explanation of the Gospel of St John, on John 5:1-15 @ Chrysostom Press.

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