Saturday, April 16, 2011

John 5, Part One

Healing the lame man (vs. 1-15)--We aren't sure which feast is mentioned in verse 1. Jewish men were required to go to Jerusalem three times a year for the major feasts--Passover, Pentecost, and Tabernacles. The first was in our current month of April (sometimes March), the second was 50 days after, and the third in September. There is no doubt that Jesus always attended all of them, though John is the only one who mentions His attendance during Jesus' 2nd year of ministry, which is probably the time of this feast. Bethesda (v. 1) means "house of mercy," perhaps because of this pool. How often the "angel went down...and troubled the water" we don't know, nor do we know how many years he did this. It probably started about the time of the miraculous events of Christ's life and ended sometime during the first century when all such activity ceased. It gave Jesus a chance to show His mercy and miraculous ability.

The man whom Jesus healed had had his infirmity for 38 years (v. 5). Jesus told him to take up his bed and walk (v. 8), which disturbed the Jews because it was the Sabbath day, and "it is not lawful for you to carry your bed" (v. 10). They didn't get this from the Law of Moses but from Jeremiah 17:20, where we read "bear no burden on the Sabbath Day." In Christ's interpretation of the law and prophets, this "burden" carrying obviously didn't mean a bed. It would have something to do with a man's work, which was what the Sabbath Day prohibition was about. But the Jews were petty about such matters, of course. They completed neglected the fact that a notable miracle had been performed; they were more concerned about their interpretation of the law. The only response the man could give them was "He who made me well said to me, Take up your bed and walk" (v. 11). When the Jews asked him who had said that, the man didn't know. Not everybody knew Jesus yet, and here was a man who obviously didn't. Later (v. 14), Jesus found the man again, and gave him the most important advice that He could give: "Sin no more, lest a worse thing come upon you" (v. 14). Eternal damnation is far worse than being infirm for 38 years. Jesus always had His eyes on the ultimate prize and tried to direct men to that goal. The healed man now knew who had made him whole and told the Jews (v. 15).

The remainder of this chapter is a rather lengthy conversation between Jesus and the Jews—mostly a monologue by Christ, actually, but it is better handled as a unit, which I will do in the next part.