Chapter 5


5:1 After this there was a Jewish feast, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem.


After some time in Samaria and Galilee, Jesus returns to Jerusalem to attend a religious festiva


5:2-4 Now there is in Jerusalem by the Sheep Gate a pool called Bethzatha  in Aramaic, which has five covered walkways. A great number of sick, blind, lame, and paralyzed people were lying in these walkways.


At that time in Jerusalem there was, near the sheep gate (which was near the temple on the east of the city, see Nehemiah 3:1), a pool, which attracted great crowds, as many people had found healing in its waters. It was said that from time to time an angel of God stirred the waters, and that when he did, whoever stepped in first was completely healed of whatever disease he had. It probably first became known as the pool of "Bethesda" (the house of mercy) because of these miracles; which John seems to regard as genuine. Since such large crowds of sick and disabled people were drawn to the pool, five large covered areas had been erected to shelter them.


5:5 Now a man was there who had been disabled for thirty-eight years.


Although there were such great crowds, our attention is immediately drawn to one sick man. He had lived with his disability for 38 years. It rendered him unable to walk or get into the pool by himself. Yet he had stayed near the pool a long time hoping for a cure.


5:6 When Jesus saw him lying there and when he realized that the man had been disabled a long time already, he said to him, "Do you want to become well?"


Jesus had come to one of the porches to find this man. He knew that he had been ill a long time and aware of how illness can crush the human spirit and destroy hope, Jesus asks him "Do you want to get well?" This was the first step. No one will reach out in faith for healing unless they want healing and hope for healing. Jesus' probing question stirs hope in his heart.


5:7 The sick man answered him, "Sir, I have no one to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up. While I am trying to get into the water, someone else goes down there before me."


The man is despondent for he has no one to help him into the pool when the water is troubled, so he sees others getting in before him and receiving the cure. Jesus would turn his eyes from the pool to himself - for Christ is greater than the pool, or the angel who stirred it. At the pool, once in a while, there was a miracle for just one person. Now Jesus the Son of God had come, and all who came to him were made completely whole (Matt. 4:24 ; Matt 8:16 ; Matt. 12:15). Not all the miracles of Moses, Elijah and Elisha put together could compare with the ministry of the Son of God (Heb. 1:4 ; Heb 3:3).


5:8 Jesus said to him, "Stand up! Pick up your mat and walk."


Christ, the Son of God, is the creator and sustainer of the universe. His own word is enough to heal this man. "Get up, pick up your bed and walk" he says.


5:9 Immediately the man was healed, and he picked up his mat and started walking. (Now that day was a Sabbath.)


Immediately the man was whole. Since Jesus had said it it was sure to happen no matter what this man thought about it. So the man obeyed, got up, picked up his mat and walked. This incident happened on the Sabbath day, a day deliberately chosen by Christ to challenge the teaching of the Pharisees and to provide an opportunity for his own teaching.


5:10 So the Jewish leaders said to the man who had been healed, "It is the Sabbath, and you are not permitted to carry your mat."


The Jews saw the man carrying his mat and had a go at him straight away: "don't you know it is the Sabbath? The law forbids you to carry your mat."


5:11 But he answered them, "The man who made me well said to me, 'Pick up your mat and walk.' "


Yet that is exactly what Jesus had told him to do. The man confesses that the man who had healed him told him to carry his mat.


5:12 They asked him, "Who is the man who said to you, 'Pick up your mat and walk'?"


The Jews are not interested in the fact that the man was healed. They derisively ask "where is the man who told you to carry your mat on the Sabbath." As if to say "who does he think he is?"


5:13 But the man who had been healed did not know who it was, for Jesus had slipped out, since there was a crowd in that place.


The healed man had no idea, for Jesus had slipped away into the crowd from public view.


5:14 After this Jesus found him at the temple and said to him, "Look, you have become well. Don't sin any more, lest anything worse happen to you."


Later Jesus went to find the man in the Temple, where no doubt he was giving thanks to God. Christ had healed the man's body, but had not yet challenged him about the need of his soul. Christ does not leave a work half done. "In view of the fact that God has made you whole in his mercy, accept that mercy and give your life do God. Stop living your life of sin, else a worse thing will come on you." Before his illness the man had lived a sinful life and some commentators suggest that the man became ill either as a result of his sin or by God's judgment on his sin. This is possible but cannot be concluded from Jesus words. Christ warns him is that his sinful life will lead to everlasting ruin. "The doom of apostates is a worse thing than thirty-eight years' lameness." (Henry)


5:15 The man went away and informed the Jewish leaders that Jesus was the one who had made him well.


Whether or not the man obeyed Christ's warning we are not told. We are told that he goes straight to the authorities to tell them that Jesus had made him whole.


5:16 Now because Jesus was doing these things on the Sabbath, the Jewish leaders began persecuting him.


From that time the Jewish authorities pursued Jesus, tried to lay hands on him and kill him, for he had healed on the Sabbath day, breaking one of their most deeply held beliefs. Here is Jesus' opportunity to teach them that their ideas about religion were completely wrong.


Christ Equal with God as Creator, Life Giver and Judge


5:17 So he told them, "My Father is working until now, and I too am working."


Though the scripture had said in Genesis that on the seventh day God "rested" from all his labours, Jesus insists that God's work has not finished. His work is ongoing day and night, whether men work or rest. God has completed his work of creation. Yet God continues to uphold creation (Heb 1:3). He neither slumbers nor sleeps (Psa. 121:4). God does not need to rest, so why should he obey the laws he gave to man who does need to rest (Mark 2:27)? God is continually working to save of men and women from sin, which is why he sent Jesus (Matt. 1:21). On His mission to save men Jesus could say "my father works and I work" which is to say we are working together for the salvation of the world. God loved and gave His Son, Christ loved and gave His life, that we might be saved.


5:18 For this reason the Jewish leaders were trying even harder to kill him, because not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was also calling God his own Father, thus making himself equal with God.


Jesus' teaching make the Jews even more angry, for not only had he broken the Sabbath, but he called God his Father, something which meant he was making himself equal with God. If their hearts were not so hard they should have known that the only One who can restore a paralysed man is the One who made man in the beginning.


5:19 So Jesus answered them, "I tell you the solemn truth, the Son can do nothing on his own initiative, but only what he sees the Father doing. For whatever the Father does, the Son does likewise.


When Jesus refers to Himself as equal with God, he is telling the truth. He explains to the Jews the relationship that he, both as a man and God the Son manifest in the flesh, has with God the Father. The Son can do nothing of himself - He does not act independently of the Father; these two are One, living in each other and working together. So whatever the father does the Son does. Whatever the Son sees the Father do, he does too, in other words the Son knows and understands God fully and they are One in all they do. "There is no separate action - no separate existence; but, alike in being and in action, there is the most perfect oneness between Christ and the Father" (Barnes).


5:20 For the Father loves the Son and shows him everything he does, and will show him greater deeds than these, so that you will be amazed.


The essence of the relationship between the persons of the Godhead is explained. The Father loves the Son and reveals to him all he does. He will reveal to Him greater works than healing a paralyzed man. Christ tells us what these works are in the verses that follow. "If God shows Christ "all" that he does, Christ must be possessed of omniscience, for to no finite mind could be imparted a knowledge of "all" the works of God." (Barnes)


5:21 For just as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, so also the Son gives life to whomever he wishes.


It is the prerogative of God to give and to take life (Job 1:21). The Jews knew that the Father had power to raise the dead. It had happened on two occasions. (1 Kings 17:22; 2 Kings 4:32-35). Christ claims the same power to give life to whom He will, for (John 5:26) as the Father is self existent and the source of all life, the Son also is self existent and in his capacity as Mediator between God and man he has been given the absolute authority to impart eternal life to all who believe in Him.


5:22-23 Furthermore, the Father does not judge anyone, but has assigned all judgment to the Son, so that all people will honor the Son just as they honor the Father. The one who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent him.


In the same way the Father has fully entrusted all authority to His Son as the judge of all men. This is so that all men may give the Son the honour due to Him, just as they ought to honour the Father. "For whoever does not Honour the son does not honour the Father who sent him." It is not just in His divinity that Christ should be honoured, but in his humanity as Mediator and Saviour of men.


5:24 "I tell you the solemn truth, the one who hears my message and believes the one who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned, but has crossed over from death to life.


Having established his authority to save believers and send unbelievers to their eternal doom, Christ assures us of the truth of his next statement. Whoever hears and accepts His teaching has eternal life, a free gift from God. He will never come under the sentence of Christ's judgment (everlasting punishment) but has changed places - from being dead in sin to being alive in Christ; from being under the sentence of eternal death to having the title deeds to a place in heaven.


5:25 I tell you the solemn truth, a time is coming — and is now here — when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live.


"The hour is coming and now is" - that which is to come in fulness (after Christ's death and resurrection) is here now since Christ is here. Jesus, openly calling himself the Son of God, says that the time had arrived when the dead would hear his voice and live. This happened bodily to those who were raised from death during Christ's ministry, but has happened since Christ's death and resurrection to countless millions who were brought from the death of sin to eternal life in Christ as through the gospel message they heard the voice of the Son of God and lived.


5:26-27 For just as the Father has life in himself, thus he has granted the Son to have life in himself, and he has granted the Son authority to execute judgment, because he is the Son of Man.


In the previous verses the Lord Jesus Christ had astounded and upset the Jewish religious leaders by claiming to be the Son of God, able to rise the dead to life and that God the Father has committed all judgement into His hands.


The Resurrection of the Dead


5:28-29 Do not be amazed at this, because a time is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear his voice and will come out — the ones who have done what is good to the resurrection resulting in life, and the ones who have done what is evil to the resurrection resulting in condemnation.


In this verse he tells them not to be surprised at this for the time is coming when all the dead shall be raised from their graves at the sound of His voice (see John 11:43-44 the raising of Lazarus). Those who have done good that is, those who have obeyed the truth and accepted Jesus Christ as their Saviour (John 3:21), will be raised with a body like to His glorious body unto eternal of life. This is the first resurrection (1 Thes. 4:16-17, Rev. 20:6). Those who have done evil, that is those who have rejected the truth and in so doing of their own choice have decided to continue in sin, in doing evil (John 3:20). This is the second resurrection (Rev. 20:11-15).  


5:30 I can do nothing on my own initiative. Just as I hear, I judge, and my judgment is just, because I do not seek my own will, but the will of the one who sent me.


Here again as in verse 19 Jesus confirms that He and the Father are One and that they work together not independantly.   He judges in accordance with that which He receives from the Father therefore His judgments are right because He desires not to do His own will but the will of His Father who sent Him into the world (Luke 22:42).


The Fourfold Witness


5:31 If I testify about myself, my testimony is not true.


In accordance with the Word of God the Lord Jesus Christ concurs that if He alone testifies of Himself then it is not valid (Deut. 19:15, Matt. 18:16 and 2 Cor. 13:1). Therefore, He calls forth others that bear witness to what He has claimed.


5:32 There is another who testifies about me, and I know the testimony he testifies about me is true.


The first and infallible (incapable of failure or error) witness of Christ is God the Father.


5:33 You have sent to John, and he has testified to the truth.


The Jews had sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to John the Baptist to ask him if he was the Christ.   John had given witness to them that he was not the Christ but when Jesus came to him to be baptised he proclaim Him to be "the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world" (John 1:19 and John 1:36).


5:34 (I do not accept human testimony, but I say this so that you may be saved.)


Although John was the herald of Christ and his witness was true Jesus does not depend for proof on who He is on the testimony of men. He makes reference to John's testimony so that they may believe in John's witness " that He is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of world" and be saved.


5:35 He was a lamp that was burning and shining, and you wanted to rejoice greatly for a short time in his light.


John in his witness as the forerunner of Christ was a lamp that steadfastly burns giving a clear message of repentance in preparation to receive the coming Christ. For a time they accepted and rejoiced at his message.


5:36 But I have a testimony greater than that from John. For the deeds that the Father has assigned me to complete — the deeds I am now doing — testify about me that the Father has sent me.


As important and necessary as John the Baptist's witness was there is a far greater  witness. Jesus said that the works that His Father had committed to Him  to accomplish and finish on the cross (John 19:30),


5:37 And the Father who sent me has himself testified about me. You people have never heard his voice nor seen his form at any time.


God Himself, who sent Him, also has borne witness of Him by the prophets by the voice from heaven at His baptism (Matt. 3:17) and by the miracles. They had not understand or heeded the voice of God as He made known His Son to them (Matt. 13:14). Although God had revealed Himself in so many ways in the Old Testament and had now revealed Himself in His Son their eyes had been blinded and they had not seen Him (Heb. 1:1-2).    


5:38 Nor do you have his word residing in you, because you do not believe the one whom he sent.


They knew His Word but it was not in their hearts "they had not regarded his manifestations, either in the times of the old dispensation, or now through the Christ"  (Barnes).   The proof of this is that they did not believe that Jesus is the Son of God.


5:39 You study the scriptures thoroughly because you think in them you possess eternal life, and it is these same scriptures that testify about me.


They diligently studied the Word of God thinking that by doing so they would gain eternal life. They were hearers of the Word but not doers (James 1:22 and 2 Tim. 3:7). If they were earnest in their seeking for the truth in God's Word they would have known they Jesus is the Christ for it bears witness of Him.


5:40 But you are not willing to come to me so that you may have life.


Although the Old Testament bears evidence that Jesus is the Christ and they profess to seek for the way of life yet they refuse to believe in Him that they may have this life (John 14:6).


5:41-42 I do not accept praise from people, but I know you, that you do not have the love of God within you.


Jesus did not come to seek honour and glory from men He came to do His Father's will and seek and save those who are lost (Luke 19:10). Jesus knew what kind of people they were that they did not have the love of God in their hearts (John 2:24).


5:43 I have come in my Father's name, and you do not accept me. If someone else comes in his own name, you will accept him.


The proof of this was that He had come in the Father's Name and was doing the works of His Father but they rejected Him. If someone else comes to them in his own name, without the power and authority of God, false teachers, false Christs they will readily accept their teachings (Mark 13:6 and Mark 13:22).


Note.   "From the time of the true Christ to our time, sixty-four false Christs have been reckoned by whom they have been deceived" [Bengal].


5:44 How can you believe, if you accept praise from one another and don't seek the praise that comes from the only God?


They can never believe while they seek and receive honour and praise from one another but not the glory that comes from the only God (Matt. 23:5 and John 12:43).


5:45 Do not suppose that I will accuse you before the Father. The one who accuses you is Moses, in whom you have placed your hope.


Jesus knew that they were thinking to themselves that He would bring a charge against them to the Father as they had already accused Him of breaking the Law (John 5:16). There would be no need for Him to do this for it is Moses through whom God gave them the Law who will accuse them, the one in whom they trusted


5:46 If you believed Moses, you would believe me, because he wrote about me.


This was the true state of their heart for if they had truly believed what Moses had written then they would believe in Him for Moses wrote concerning Christ (Gen. 3:15, Deut. 18:15 and John 8:56).  


5:47 But if you do not believe what Moses wrote, how will you believe my words?


To the Jews the authority of Moses was the greatest; it was the yardstick for every aspect of their life, social and business but they used it for their own gratification, in truth they did not believe in its truth. If they do not believe the writings of Moses how can they believe His words that are the fulfillment of all that Moses wrote.


Many men who profess to believe the Bible have really no regard for it when it crosses their own views and inclinations (Barnes).

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