HG049 John 5:1-47
1 Some time later, Jesus went up to Jerusalem for one of the Jewish festivals. 2 Now there is in Jerusalem near the Sheep Gate a pool, which in Aramaic is called Bethesda and which is surrounded by five covered colonnades. 3 Here a great number of disabled people used to lie—the blind, the lame, the paralyzed. 4 5 One who was there had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. 6 When 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.” 8 Then Jesus said to him, “Get up! Pick up your mat and walk.” 9 At once the man was cured; he picked up his mat and walked. The day on which this took place was a Sabbath, 10 and so the Jewish leaders said to the man who had been healed, “It is the Sabbath; the law forbids you to carry your mat.” 11 But he replied, “The man who made me well said to me, ‘Pick up your mat and walk.’ ” 12 So they asked him, “Who is this fellow who told you to pick it up and walk?” 13 The man who was healed had no idea who it was, for Jesus had slipped away into the crowd that was there. 14 Later Jesus found him at the temple and said to him, “See, you are well again. Stop sinning or something worse may happen to you.” 15 The man went away and told the Jewish leaders that it was Jesus who had made him well. 16 So, because Jesus was doing these things on the Sabbath, the Jewish leaders began to persecute him. 17 In his defense Jesus said to them, “My Father is always at his work to this very day, and I too am working.” 18 For 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. 19 Jesus 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. 20 For 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. 21 For just as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, even so the Son gives life to whom he is pleased to give it. 22 Moreover, the Father judges no one, but has entrusted all judgment to the Son, 23 that all may honor the Son just as they honor the Father. Whoever does not honor the Son does not honor the Father, who sent him. 24 “Very truly I tell you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be judged but has crossed over from death to life. 25 Very truly I tell you, a time is coming and has now come when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God and those who hear will live. 26 For as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son also to have life in himself. 27 And he has given him authority to judge because he is the Son of Man. 28 “Do not be amazed at this, for a time is coming when all who are in their graves will hear his voice 29 and come out—those who have done what is good will rise to live, and those who have done what is evil will rise to be condemned. 30 By myself I can do nothing; I judge only as I hear, and my judgment is just, for I seek not to please myself but him who sent me. 31 “If I testify about myself, my testimony is not true. 32 There is another who testifies in my favor, and I know that his testimony about me is true. 33 “You have sent to John and he has testified to the truth. 34 Not that I accept human testimony; but I mention it that you may be saved. 35 John was a lamp that burned and gave light, and you chose for a time to enjoy his light. 36 “I have testimony weightier than that of John. For the works that the Father has given me to finish—the very works that I am doing—testify that the Father has sent me. 37 And the Father who sent me has himself testified concerning me. You have never heard his voice nor seen his form, 38 nor does his word dwell in you, for you do not believe the one he sent. 39 You study the Scriptures diligently because you think that in them you have eternal life. These are the very Scriptures that testify about me, 40 yet you refuse to come to me to have life. 41 “I do not accept glory from human beings, 42 but I know you. I know that you do not have the love of God in your hearts. 43 I have come in my Father’s name, and you do not accept me; but if someone else comes in his own name, you will accept him. 44 How can you believe since you accept glory from one another but do not seek the glory that comes from the only God? 45 “But do not think I will accuse you before the Father. Your accuser is Moses, on whom your hopes are set. 46 If you believed Moses, you would believe me, for he wrote about me. 47 But since you do not believe what he wrote, how are you going to believe what I say?”
The passage we read in John is in two parts: the healing of the man on the Sabbath and the discourse of Jesus revealing His equality with God.
The feast spoken of here is probably the Passover and so, like all Jewish men, made their way to Jerusalem. Jesus went around and came to Bethesda where there was a lot of water coming up from underground streams. There were many who were sick laid there and many superstitions about going down into the water when it was stirred which would result in healing very much like what we have today at Lourdes in France and elsewhere.
But Jesus went into the place and Jesus saw the man. In this crowded place where there were so many people around He spotted a face. Jesus could have gone round and healed everyone but He didn’t. Jesus came to see this man, chose him out of all these people. God sees us, me and you out of the crowd. The Gospel is personal, for the individual first and then as part of the community. Jesus knows who is going to respond to Him and he knew that this man would.
A child was asked to recite all of John 5 from the Authorised Version. In verse 3 he made a mistake and said: “In these lay a great multitude of important folk” rather than impotent - the mistake was actually right - to Jesus they and this man in particular was important.
So what a curious question Jesus asks him: “Do you want to be made well?” You’d think it was obvious but ask this question of some people who are sick whether physically or mentally or emotionally you will get a variety of answers from outright anger to ‘yes, let’s go’. Some are happy to stay in the state they are feeding off the help of others garnering sympathy for their plight with a victim mentality and sheer selfishness retreating and absconding from their responsibilities. Jesus asks us the same question: Do you want to get well? Then ask Jesus, ask the leaders here for prayer.
Well the man in question really wanted to be made well and Jesus spoke the word and he was healed. Unlike the waiting for a stirring in a particular place for a particular time Jesus can heal anywhere anywhen. I take issue with some Christians who seem to chase the anointing, as they call it, to go off to Toronto or Holy Trinity Brompton or, recently; to Cwmbran or Reading. God might be at work in these places or He might not but we do not have to go there to gain some touch. This is very much superstition clouded in Christian religiosity. Be careful that we do not chase some fad.
In Jesus we have the real deal. Oh we could do with such healings today, especially here. So many of the congregation are unwell. I think we should have a healing service especially for this which the community of Mansleton could be invited too. Well, this man was healed and was on his way home carrying his mattress, his bed.
And lo and behold who would come out of the woodwork but the Pharisees! What are you doing carrying your bed on the Sabbath? It’s not lawful for you to do so. They had 39 things you were not allowed to do on the Sabbath and carrying something was one of them. God’s law said do no work on the Sabbath but they made their explanation of what this means law instead.
So the man explained that he had been healed. But they were not interested in the fact that the man was healed only that he had broken one of their man-made laws and how dare he! Religiosity can really kill compassion. We can be so concentrated upon one thing without realising that it is not the most important. It is very important to us, of course, but in the grand scheme of things it would be relegated somewhat further down the list. Are there rules we follow that take what God says further than it needs to?
Later on in the day the healed man made his way to the Temple probably to give thanks for what had happened and it is here that Jesus found him. Jerusalem was a busy place and yet Jesus found him again. This time with a very stark warning - repent or something worse than you have experienced will come upon you. I think I would be inclined to listen to the one who had healed me. It is like having an operation and then being told to rest and not do anything otherwise we will have to operate again and it will not be so easy. Of course, there are those who ignore doctor’s advice but the warning of Jesus was on a different scale - spiritually he would end up in a very bad way - you think that the issue you had for 38 years was very bad - then what of an eternity in hell.
It seems from the way the story runs along that the man ignored the advice and betrayed Him to the Jews so that they wanted to kill Jesus. It is interesting that Jesus had singled out this man for healing but whilst he was happy to be healed he had no interest in following Jesus. He took his stand with the Jews rather than with Jesus.
This then starts the discourse with the Jews and Jesus. Who is Jesus? First, the healed man had no idea who had healed him but after Jesus revealed Himself the revelation was spurned. I just cannot understand the man’s reasoning at all. He departed from Jesus. It is possible to be healed and yet not come to faith. But the second half of this chapter is concerned with the identity of Jesus and perhaps Jesus used the healed man to make it come to the for so that the identity of Jesus becomes the crucial issue.
First, the Jews want to kill him because he told a man to carry his mat! This is the definition of extremism. But then Jesus spoke and they wanted to kill Him for that too! What was this new thing? Jesus says: My Father has been working and so have I. Jesus is saying that He is equal to God. If God were able to have children then those children would be gods. Plainly God does not have children but, so that we can understand, God does have a begotten Son who has always existed - and Jesus says I AM that Son.
Jesus says: I see what God is doing and I do the same works. God is working on the Sabbath to heal I am working on the Sabbath to heal.
You’ll see greater things than this. And indeed they did: the greatest of these earthly miracles is found in chapter 11 is Lazarus rising from the dead. Healing someone is child’s play - but raising someone from the dead truly reveals the nature of Jesus. If healing a man reveals His deity healing a dead man makes it unavoidable. Jesus is equal with God in His nature, equal with God in His power and equal with God in His authority for as we read on Jesus will be the Judge of all including these Jews. All the honour that God gets will also be given to the Son. Dishonour the Son, you dishonour God.
And whilst God has made Him to be the Judge of the world, if you believe His Word and trust in God you will not be judged at all but already have life. For Christians this is such a great hope. We will not be judged on whether we are worthy of Heaven for we have been made worthy through faith in Jesus. We will give an account but it will be for rewards or loss of reward. Notice that Jesus is giving every opportunity to the Jews to realise who He is - He is trying to convince them that He is the Son of God so that they, too, can believe.
Jesus then goes on to say that there are many witnesses that He is the Son of God. John the Baptist testified of Jesus. Just this week I heard that the witness of others caused them to hire some workers - purely on another’s recommendation. But the witnesses of Jesus have a much more powerful testimony. Then there was the man that was healed: the works that Jesus does prove who He is. God’s testimony is that He is His Son - remember His baptism. Another witness Jesus had was the Scriptures. They claimed to put their trust in the Bible yet it is the very same Bible that talks of Jesus. Moses testifies of Me, Jesus says, but whilst you claim to trust the Bible in actual fact you do not. Think about what Moses said about the One who is to come and you will see that it is Me.
When I read this I thought of the Emmaus Road in Mark 16 when Jesus appeared to the two disciples and explained, starting at Moses that He was the one who was prophesied.
This week I saw a video with a Jewish evangelist showing other Jews Isaiah 53 and letting them work out who it is that is being spoken of - and all of them have a dawning realisation that it can only be Jesus. What they do with this then is up to them. You see, Jesus said to the Jews you would not come to Me to have eternal life. In percentage terms the Jews have fewer Christians per head of population than most, if not all, other nationalities. They are still blind, for now. But this did not stop Jesus from trying to open their eyes. They would not accept Jesus as their Messiah but one day they will receive one who comes in his own name who will turn out to be the Antichrist.
Jesus was engaged with the Jews in what is called ‘apologetics’. This does not mean saying sorry but it means to give a defence for why we believe the things we do. In this case Jesus defends His right to be considered equal with God in nature, in honour, and in power and gives witness statements to back up the claim. We, too, are apologists and can point to the overwhelming evidence that Jesus is who He claimed to be and we can have complete confidence in this.
It seems so obvious to us that Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life we cannot understand how others do not see it. Jesus does have to open our eyes but then we still have to look and some people simply refuse. There is no neutral ground: faith results in Heaven for eternity, unbelief results in hell and the lake of fire for eternity. I hope everyone here has already given their life to Jesus but if not today is the day of salvation - ask Him into your life today.
Let the rest of us take every opportunity, even with antagonists, to show that Jesus is all that He cracks up to be.
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Exported from Logos Bible Software, 09:32 22 October 2017.