John 5

The Sabbath

Jesus makes his way into Jerusalem during a feast of the Jews where he will face increased scrutiny and opposition from the Jewish leaders. In Jerusalem, there was a pool on the north side of the city by the Sheep Gate called Bethesda. It had five roofed colonnades that may have been representative of the Pentateuch, five books of the Law. If so, this may be referenced in vv. 39-47. The pool was a gathering place for many disabled persons including maladies like blindness, physical impairment, and paralysis. The twin pools on the north side of Jerusalem were supplied by Solomon's pools and may have been fed by intermittent springs which might stir the waters. The people believed that when the waters were stirred, it had healing properties. At this gathering place for the suffering, there was a man who had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. Jesus asks the man if he wants to be healed which may have seemed obvious and perhaps a bit insensitive. The man does not take offense at Jesus' inquiry and explains that he has no one there to help him. Every time he attempts to get into the pool when it is stirred, someone gets into the water before him, and he seems to believe that only the first one into the pool after the waters are stirred will be healed. Jesus orders the man to get up, take up his bed, and walk. The man complies and is restored immediately. Jesus completely heals the man, and after thirty-eight years of suffering he rises and walks without any assistance or difficulty. John specifies that Jesus healed the man on a Sabbath which is the detail that will explain the ensuing conflict. The religious leaders observe the man carrying his mat on the Sabbath and they rebuke him for his unlawful behavior. He pleads ignorance and explains that he is only following the instructions that he had been given by the man who healed him. These leaders will not tolerate such behavior, and they ask the man who told him to violate the Sabbath law. The man who had been healed did not know Jesus' name and Jesus had slipped away unnoticed. Later, Jesus finds the man in the temple and calls him to walk in obedience with the implication being that the man's suffering was connected with past sin. The man tells the Jewish leaders that it was Jesus who healed him. Sabbath controversies were a source of much of the conflict Jesus experienced from the religious leaders. The defense Jesus offers his accusers is that the Father's work justifies his work. These words provoke the Jewish leaders who will not tolerate Jesus making himself equal with God. 

The Authority Of The Son

Jesus explains his relationship to the Father in greater detail. Jesus only does what he sees the Father doing and always pleases the Father. The Father decrees and the Son accomplishes the Father's will. Only someone equal to the Father can do what the Father does. The relationship between the Father is based on their mutual love for one another. Jesus reveals the Father and the people marvel. If the Son does the works of the Father, then judges consistently just as the Father does. The Father entrusts judgment to the Son so that Jesus will be honored. Jesus brings resurrection life to the dead and spiritual life to those spiritually dead in their trespasses and sins. Jesus has the power of life in himself and the authority to judge. Jesus had authority to judge, and the unity of the Godhead guarantees agreement and justice. The Father bears witness to the Son and testifies to the verity of the Son. Jesus points to the testimony of John the Baptist for the benefit of his hearers. John the Baptist was not the true light that had come into the world, but he was a lamp illuminating the truth. The greater testimony about Jesus came from the Father, and it is authenticated by his mighty works. The Jewish leaders have never heard or seen God, and his word did not dwell in them, so they did not believe. These religious leaders studied the scripture in the hopes that it would secure their acceptance with God. Life is in the Son, and the scriptures point to Jesus, his life, death, burial, and resurrection. If these leaders refuse to believe and come to Jesus, it means that they do not understand the revelation that God has given. These men longed for the praise of others and sought their own glory. If the religious leaders placed their hope in the law, they do not understand that the law points to Jesus and it is Moses who will accuse them to the Father.

Things To Consider:

  • Why do you think Jesus observed feasts in Jerusalem?
  • How does water point to Jesus?
  • Should the Sabbath still be observed? Why or why not?
  • Why is religion so dangerous?
  • How is sin connected to suffering?
  • How is Jesus equal with God?
  • How should we understand submission in light of the relationship between God the Father and God the Son?
  • Why does God have to judge sin?
  • How do we bear witness to Jesus?
  • What works has God called his followers to do?
  • What religious practices do people look to for salvation?
  • Where do you seek the approval of others?
  • Where do you long for your own glory?
  • How does the person and work of Jesus provide the lens for viewing scripture?