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The Sick Man of Bethesda.
The health-giving waters:
v. 1. After this there was a feast of the Jews; and Jesus went up to Jerusalem.
v. 2. Now there is at Jerusalem by the sheep-market a pool, which is called in the Hebrew tongue Bethesda, having five porches.
v. 3. In these lay a great multitude of impotent folk, of blind, halt, withered, waiting for the moving of the water.
v. 4. For an angel went down at a certain season into the pool, and troubled the water; whosoever then first, after the troubling of the water, stepped in was made whole of whatsoever disease he had.
"After this"; how long is not stated by the evangelist; he merely denotes an interval, in which a part of the Galilean ministry of Jesus took place. The feast of the Jews to which Jesus journeyed up from Galilee was probably the Feast of Purim, which was celebrated on the 14 th
and 15 th
of Adar (March). See Esther 9:21. Now there was in the city of Jerusalem a gate which was known as the Sheep Gate, probably from the fact that the sacrificial animals were driven into the city through this gate. In this neighborhood was located, even as late as the end of the first century, a pool which bore the Hebrew name Bethesda, House of Grace, or Mercy. The Jews had built five colonnades, or porticoes, around of his pool of water, to shelter the sick people from wind and rain. These constituted the hospital of the city, where a large number of sick people, of blind, of lame, of withered, was lying. All of them anxiously awaited the movement, the bubbling of the water in the pool, those that could see having their eyes anxiously fixed upon the surface of the water, and the blind waiting for the sound that told of the movement, or depending upon relatives or friends to lead them to the pool quickly. The phenomenon, which is now generally ascribed, the action of a siphon-like spring, is explained by the evangelist as having been due to the fact that an angel at a certain time came down to the pool and disturbed the water. And the first sick person that entered the water after the phenomenon had taken place became well, no matter what sickness he was bothered with. Many commentators are rather skeptical at this point, refusing to accept the words as the truth, and many critics have simply ruled out this verse. But we hold, according to Scriptures, that the beneficial effects of many so-called natural agencies are due to the work of God's angels. The decrees of God's providence are carried out by these servants of His. It is Altogether probable that even today the angels of God are active in the waters of many health springs. "Those who feel little or none of the work of God in their own hearts are not willing to allow that He works in others. This is to make any man's experience the rule by which the whole Word of God is to be interpreted, and consequently to leave no more divinity in the Bible than is found in the heart of him who professes to explain it."
v. 5. And a certain man was here which had an infirmity thirty and eight years.
v. 6. When Jesus saw him lie and knew that he had been now a long time in that case, He saith unto him, Wilt thou be made whole?
v. 7. The impotent man answered Him, Sir, I have no man, when the water is troubled, to put me into the pool; but while I am coming, another steppeth down before me.
v. 8. Jesus saith unto him, Rise, take up thy bed, and walk.
v. 9. And immediately the man was made whole, and took up his bed, and walked. And on the same day was the Sabbath.
Among all the sick people that were lying in the porticoes at the pool's brink there was no case more pitiful than that of a man who had spent thirty-eight years there in the misery of his sickness, thirty-eight years of alternating hope and despair, of eager longing and painful disappointment. Note: Many a person that is inclined to become impatient at a cross lasting but a few weeks or months might well consider this case and learn patience from the example of the man of Bethesda. Jesus, in accordance with His desire to help all men in whatever trouble they might be, visited also this hospital. He saw the man lying there in his misery; He knew that the poor fellow had spent a long time in that place. It was not merely that Jesus drew conclusions, or that He learned from the man himself or from his friends of his long sickness; His knowledge was that of omniscience. With a view to awaken the man to the nearness of divine power, the Lord addressed him with the question whether he wanted to become well. Through this question the Lord aroused and incited the desire and the longing of the man for the long-lost gift of health. The desire for help and salvation is awakened by the Savior Himself through His Word. The sick man gave a sad answer. He addressed Jesus as the Lord, indicating the beginning of faith in his heart; but he complained in a hopeless tone that he had neither relative nor friend, not a person in the wide world to help him into the water at the appointed time; and when at last he had dragged his helpless limbs over to the pool, some other person had preceded him, and therefore all his efforts were futile. For at each bubbling up of the water apparently only one could be healed. Note: The mere statement of trouble and misfortune is in itself a prayer and well acceptable to the Lord. And Jesus heard the prayer of faith. He gave the sick man the command to arise, a command to be obeyed on the moment by faith in Him who gave it. And not only that, but he should also take up his couch, or pallet, and walk, having been restored to full health and strength. This was a miracle in the true sense of the word, a deed against the course of nature. A sickness of thirty-eight years' standing was completely routed and replaced by the full vigor of complete health, with a perfect use of all organs and members. The man followed the words of Jesus to the letter; for faith accepts, and clings to, the help of Christ. He went away, carrying his pallet, though the day, not without design on the part of Jesus, was the Sabbath.
The objections of the Jews:
v. 10. The Jews therefore said unto him that was cured, It is the Sabbath-day; it is not lawful for thee to carry thy bed.
v. 11. He answered them, He that made me whole, the same said unto me, Take up thy bed and walk.
v. 12. Then asked they him, What man is that which said unto thee, Take up thy bed and walk?
v. 13. And he that was healed wist not who it was; for Jesus had conveyed Himself away, a multitude being in that place.
v. 14. Afterward Jesus findeth him in the Temple, and said unto him, Behold, thou art made whole; sin no more, lest a worse thing come unto thee.
v. 15. The man departed, and told the Jews that it was Jesus which had made him whole.
v. 16. And therefore did the Jews persecute Jesus, and sought to slay Him, because He had done these things on the Sabbath-day.
The religion of the Jews at the time of Jesus had largely become a matter of dead form, without the true understanding of love and mercy. It was true, indeed, that the law prohibited the carrying of burdens on the Sabbath, Exodus 20:8; Jeremiah 17:21; Nehemiah 13:15; Exodus 23:12. But necessary works were not forbidden, such works as served the immediate needs of the person; for the Sabbath had been established for the sake of man. And in this case the Lord of the Sabbath had spoken. But the Jews took no possible extenuating circumstance into account; they reminded the man of the day and of its demands. The former sick man refused to assume the responsibility and blame for his action. He told the Jews that the man who had made him well had ordered him to take up his bed and walk. His implied argument was: He that could perform such a great miracle, that could heal me with a mere word, must have an authority for His command which transcends that of the ceremonial law. He that gives life is the proper authority for its use. But the Jews were not satisfied with that answer; they wanted to know the name of Him that had given this order. This the former invalid was unable to supply, and a searching look around the vicinity failed to discover Jesus, who had withdrawn or turned aside, an easy matter in such a large crowd. Jesus was not seeking external evidences of mouth adulation; a mere admiration on account of His miracles was an abomination to Him. Note: The purpose of the Jews in asking the invalid the question was not to seek the Lord in faith, but to accuse and condemn Him. Even so many people in our days that must acknowledge the miracles of Christianity study the Bible, not for the sake of knowing the great works of God, but for the sake of finding fault and discovering so-called contradictions. But Jesus did not lose sight of the former sick man. He deliberately arranged it so that He came upon the man in the Temple; for his body had been healed, but the soul still needed attention. Therefore the Lord told him: Behold, well thou hast become; sin no more, lest worse things come upon thee. The sin of man is the reason and cause for all manner of physical evils and ills, though individual sicknesses may not be due to specific sins, as in, this case. The man's long illness had not been brought about by some special sin. But this the Lord means to emphasize: Sickness and all physical evils would never have come into the world if sin had not come first. To realize the horror and heinousness of sin in general is a very important step in the work of justification and sanctification. He that has realized the abomination of sin in itself, and has then accepted Jesus as his Savior, will shun sin with all the might of his regenerated heart. Such a person will not make his members servants of sin, also for that reason that the greater punishment awaits such as do not heed the warning of the Savior, namely, the punishment of hell-fire. Note: Jesus has a personal interest in every sinner and will continue to work for the salvation and sanctification of everyone with unabated, loving energy. The man now went away and told the Jews that it was Jesus who had performed the miracle of healing him. He did this, probably not with any evil intent, but in the joy of his knowledge as to the identity of his Benefactor. But the result was that the hypocritical Jews persecuted Jesus; they followed Him about at all times with hostile intention; they considered ways and means to put Him out of the way entirely. The fact that He had performed this healing on the Sabbath was in their eyes a deed that merited death. Note: That is characteristic of the Sabbath-fanatics, to make mountains out of mole-hills, as far as the outward observance of the day is concerned, while, at the same time, they have not the faintest idea of the true meaning of worship in spirit and in truth.
The Relation between the Father and the Son.
Jesus gives the Jews an answer:
v. 17. But Jesus answered them, My Father worketh hitherto, and I work.
v. 18. Therefore the Jews sought the more to kill Him, because He not only had broken the Sabbath, but said also that God was His Father, making Himself equal with God.
v. 19. Then answered Jesus and said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, The Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He seeth the Father do; for what things soever He doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise.
v. 20. For the Father loveth the Son, and showeth Him all things that Himself doeth; and He will show Him greater works than these, that ye may marvel.
The hostile attitude of the Jews and their murderous thoughts were not unknown to Jesus, and He takes occasion to justify Himself, and incidentally to try to convince them of His authority and power. He tells them that His Father is at work, performing the work which He knows is necessary; God never stops working. And even so He, Christ Himself, is working. Jesus here plainly affirms that He is the Son of God, He places Himself on the same level with God. The Son is just as great, just as divine as the Father. And the entire work of the Father is, at the same time, and in the same way, the work of the Son. In this work there is no Sabbath rest. Without ceasing, without rest, the Son preserves and rules the world. Even in the state of humiliation, He is tending to this work. The miracle of healing the sick man was an exhibition of this creative power, it was evidence of the fact that He, with the Father, has the entire world and all its laws in His power and can do and create whatever He desires. "How long would the sun, the moon, and the entire heaven have its course, which had its progress so definitely so many thousand years, also, that the sun at a certain time and in certain places annually rises and sets, if God who created them, would not daily preserve them? God the Father, through His Word, has begun and perfected the creation of all beings, and preserves them to this day through the same, and continues so long in the work which He creates until He no longer wants it to be. Therefore Christ says, John 5:17: My Father worketh hitherto, and I work. For just as we, without our assistance and ability, are created by Him, even so we by ourselves cannot be preserved. Therefore, just as heaven, earth, sun, moon, stars, human beings, and everything that lives was created in the beginning through the Word, even so they all are ruled and preserved through it in a miraculous manner. " The Jews caught the import of Christ's statement at once: If He was the Son of God, He certainly must be equal to God. Here, in the opinion of the Jews, were two crimes that merited death: breaking the Sabbath and blasphemy. They refused to accept His testimony, though this had been substantiated by the miracle; they hated Him for this plain statement; they were all the more determined to kill Him. Note: The enemies of Christ at all times argue in the same way. The testimony concerning Jesus, the Son of God, the Savior of the world, strikes their conscience and makes them furious. They cannot gainsay the truth, and that is unbearable to them. Their own conscience condemns them. And to drown out these unpleasant influences, they become all the more rabid in their persecution of the Gospel, both in word and deed
But Jesus, upon this occasion, continued His statement, His testimony concerning Himself. Solemnly He declares to the Jews that the Son can do nothing of Himself, except what He sees the Father doing. That is the result of the relation between Father and Son. The essence of the Son is out of the Father; His is not an independent essence. The persons of the God-head are not separate from each other, each doing His own individual work. In that which He does and performs, the Son is joined with the Father. And again: Whatever the Father does, the Son does likewise, at the same time, in the same manner. There is not only perfect sympathy, there is complete oneness between the two. And this relation is made still closer by the fact that the Father loves the Son and shows Him all that He Himself does. The power of either is absolute, and yet their work and will is one. This creative power finds its expression in the work of Jesus on earth. The Father, through the Son, will do greater works than those which have been done up to the present time, to the great surprise and wonder of the Jews. The mere healing of a sick man would seem insignificant in comparison with the miracles which are yet to be revealed.
The greater miracles:
v. 21. For as the Father raiseth up the dead and quickeneth them, even so the Son quickeneth whom he will.
v. 22. For the Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son,
v. 23. that all men should honor the Son, even as they honor the Father. He that honoreth not the Son honoreth not the Father which hath sent Him.
v. 24. Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth My Word, and believeth on Him that sent Me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation, but is passed from death unto life.
v. 25. Verily, verily, I say unto you, The hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God; and they that hear shall live.
v. 26. For as the Father hath life in Himself, so hath He given to the Son to have life in Himself;
v. 27. and hath given Him authority to execute judgment also, because He is the Son of Man.
Since the miracle and the words of Jesus had not yet convinced the Jews, He here points forward to two miracles which would put His claim to the Sonship of God beyond question. The Jews believed in the power of God to give life and to raise the dead, Deuteronomy 32:39; 1 Samuel 2:6; Isaiah 26:19. This work of the Father, to raise the dead and restore them to life, is the work of His independent will. And the same is true of the Son. He has absolute power over life and death; as the Author of life He has power to give life and being at will. His will is just as omnipotent as that of the Father. And the same holds true of another divine work. Since all sins are, in the last analysis, directed against God, it is He that judges and condemns; that is His function, His special work. But now He is not exercising the works of this power, but has given this authority, together with its execution, into the hands of the Son. He has thus openly affirmed the full equality, the unquestioned deity of the Son. The allotting of men to their eternal destinies is altogether in the hands of the Son. The statement is sweeping, it refers to all men, and without appeal. Truly, if such an unquestioned divine prerogative is given to the Son, then there can be no doubt as to His deity and as to the divine honor which is due Him. There is no difference between the honor given to the Father and that due to the Son. In honoring the Son, men honor the Father; in refusing to honor the Son, they incidentally take away the honor from the Father. For divine honor and glory belong to the Son.
With great solemnity and a double asseveration the Lord tries to drive home this truth. It is His purpose to give eternal life. That is the purpose and will of God with regard to all men in the world. And the conditions for the receiving of this gift are very simple. They are merely that a person hear His Word, the glorious, sweet message of the Gospel, and then believe in the Father, that sent Him into the world. It is not a question of obtaining eternal life at some later date, but of possessing it right now. The same thought is also expressed from the negative side, namely, that such a person does not come under condemnation. See Romans 8:11-34. By accepting the Word of the Gospel, the believer goes from spiritual death, which would have resulted in eternal death, into life, into the full possession of the life which Jesus brought out of the grave. He has entered into the blessed, intimate communion with God, into the fullness of the glorious life which this union implies. This thought the Lord brings out with equally solemn emphasis. The time which the Triune God had selected had come with the incarnation of Jesus; the great hour of Jesus for calling the spiritually dead back into life had struck. Many a member of the Jewish nation, many a person that was a true Israelite, even if not a descendant of Abraham, was hearing and obeying the voice of the Son of God, as He was proclaiming it with His own mouth. And by such hearing, by the accepting of the Gospel, all such persons were getting the gift of life as their safe possession. The Father has life in Himself; in the same manner, in the same degree, the Son has life in Himself. Christ, even according to His human nature, has received life as His absolute possession. The Son can give life, for He Himself is the Possessor of life, He is Life and the Fountainhead of life. That is one of the mysteries of the Trinity. And the final proof for the Son's divine power and majesty is His authority to exercise and execute judgment. This authority is His in His capacity as Jesus Christ the man, as the God-man, as the Word of God Incarnate. Those who will not accept the life which He proclaims and offers in the Gospel, will come under the judgment of condemnation by their own fault. Jesus Christ, the Judge, will be obliged to pronounce the judgment of condemnation upon them. And all of this proves beyond all question that Jesus is true God, with unabridged and full divine powers.
The coming of the Judgment:
v. 28. Marvel not at this; for the hour is coming in the which all that are in the graves shall hear His voice,
v. 29. and shall come forth: they that have done good unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation.
v. 30. I can of Mine own self do nothing; as I hear I judge, and My judgment is just, because I seek not Mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent Me.
The fact that it is Jesus Christ, the God-man Jesus, to whose human nature such great powers are given and who, in this capacity, will judge all men on the last day, should not occasion surprise and wonder, neither on the part of the Jews nor on the part of any other men. The hour appointed in God's counsel is surely coming, when all that are in their graves will hear and obey the voice of the Son of Man. For it is an almighty voice, it has the power to call men back from physical death into life. All men will hear that voice in that hour. Though their flesh be decayed and eaten by worms, though their bones be fallen into dust, ground to ashes, and scattered to the four winds, yet their bodies, at the omnipotent command of Christ, will rise from their resting-place. They must come forth to stand before Him. And the result of His judicial investigation will be either the one or the other. They in whom the righteousness of faith ripened into righteousness of life, that proved their faith in good works, will come forth out of their graves unto the resurrection of life. They will receive, as a reward of grace, the full, eternal enjoyment of life, in an everlasting resurrection. But the others, that have given evidence of their total lack of faith by evil deeds, by acts not in conformity with the will. of God, will come forth from their graves, but only in a resurrection unto damnation, from temporal death to eternal death, a damnation which is essentially a casting away from the face of God, and which will continue throughout eternity, what a horrible prospect for the unbelievers! That is the last great work of the Son of God, to judge the whole world on the last day. And the judgment is bound to be just, not only because Jesus is the Son of Man, with true flesh and blood, who surely will not condemn any of His brethren according to the flesh unjustly, but also because His judgment is not absolute, according to His ideas and prejudices. He speaks what He hears from the Father; His own personal, human opinion in no way comes into consideration, since He seeks to carry out only the will of the Father. While His will is perfect, divine, independent, it is still identical with that of the Father. It is for this reason that His judgment will be right beyond question. We have here another glimpse into the essence of the Triune God, into the relation between Father and Son. The Son is coordinate with the Father in all matters.
The Witness of John, of the Father, and of Scriptures.
A reference to John:
v. 31. If I bear witness of Myself, My witness is not true.
v. 32. There is another that beareth witness of Me; and I know that the witness which He witnesseth of Me is true.
v. 33. Ye sent unto John, and he bare witness unto the truth.
v. 34. But I receive not testimony from man; but these things I say that ye might be saved.
v. 35. He was a burning and a shining light, and ye were willing for a season to rejoice in his light.
The Jews might have raised the objection at this point that Jesus was speaking and testifying of Himself, but that His own testimony had no value. See Deuteronomy 19:15. Jesus concedes in advance that from their standpoint He stands alone, and that therefore His words will not stand without corroboration from other witnesses. He was trying to place Himself entirely on their level, in order that the points which He wanted to make would be all the stronger. At the same time it remains true that all His words are eternal truth and need no confirmation. But for the sake of the blind, hostile Jews He is perfectly willing to argue from their standpoint. And He refers to another Witness, one that is unimpeachable, whose testimony He is about to refer to and of which He knows and they must admit that there can be no question as to its certainty. Note: It is not the least of the evils attending unbelief that it acts not only in opposition to God, but acts also inconsistently with itself. In many cases it professes to receive Scriptures in bulk, even conceding them to have come through divine inspiration; and yet believes no part separately. Before going into detail concerning the testimony of the Father, Jesus refers them to a witness whom many of the Jews there present had seen and heard. They had sent a delegation to John 3:25-36, to get definite information about the new Teacher, and John had repeated his former testimony concerning the divinity of Christ and carried it out at length. He had borne witness to the truth. He had stated the facts in his testimony concerning Jesus. Now Jesus was not in need of testimony from any man, but John's testimony; concerning Him redounded to their salvation. If they had accepted that, it would have been to their own temporal and eternal advantage. They would have been saved by relying upon that message. They have a full chance at salvation now, if they will but heed His reference to that Gospel-message. Jesus sought no honor for Himself, His object was the salvation of men. John himself, during his lifetime, was a burning and a shining light. His testimony concerning Christ was plain, clear, unmistakable. If they had heeded it, they would have been shown the way to salvation. Note: Every minister of the Gospel should be a light, to shed forth not his own luster, but that of the Redeemer; not consuming, either others by a zeal without knowledge or himself by a foolish manner of working, but burning in holy love for the Savior and His Gospel; and shining, finding his greatest joy" in leading the way to Jesus. The Jews of that time were willing enough for a season to rejoice greatly in the light of John. It was like the brief play of the moths about the arc lamp, a regular Revival-type of religion, with much emotional Revelation ling, but no sound basis of faith. Just so many people in our days may be struck for a while by some aspect of religious work and become most enthusiastic. But when the enthusiasm has burned out, the work palls on them, to their own damnation.
The witness of the Father:
v. 36. But I have greater witness than that of John; for the works which the Father hath given Me to finish, the same works that I do bear witness of Me that the Father hath sent Me.
v. 37. And the Father Himself which hath sent Me hath borne witness of Me. Ye have neither heard His voice at any time nor seen His shape.
v. 38. And ye have not His Word abiding in you; for whom He hath sent, Him ye believe not.
The testimony of John was valuable for their sakes only; Jesus did not need the witness of men. He could appeal to testimony greater than John's. For all the works which He was performing had been given Him by the Father to carry out in just that way; all the miracles of Jesus served a definite purpose. Through them God Himself bore witness to Him that He was the Son of God. If He had been a deceiver and cheat, God would not have given Him the power to perform such wonderful deeds. No one that saw His miracles and judged them with an unbiased, open mind, could deny His divine mission. All His works were evidence of greater weight than John's. The entire appearance of Jesus and the manifestation of His glory called out loudly in testimony of His divine mission. And in addition to this testimony, undeniable, unassailable, there was the witness of the Father's voice, through the writings of the prophets. God did not appear to the Jews in a visible manifestation; they did not hear His voice, they did not see His form. And yet, there was the evidence contained in the Word of the Old Testament, so clear and unmistakable that there could be no doubt as to its correctness. In spite of all that, however, His Word had found no abiding place in their hearts; they did not accept the testimony of God Himself. For the reception accorded to the delegate of God, to the Son of God Himself, is a proof of the fact that the Word of God does not abide in them. If they actually believed God in the witnesses of the Old Testament, as they professed to, they would receive His great Minister, the Prophet to whom Moses pointed. It is the essence of unbelief that people refuse the Word of God an abiding place in their heart, that they simulate religion in their lives, but have no true religion in their hearts.
The authority of the Scriptures:
v. 39. Search the Scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life; and they are they which testify of Me.
v. 40. And ye will not come to Me that ye might have life.
v. 41. I receive not honor from men.
v. 42. But I know you that ye have not the love of God in you.
v. 43. I am come in My Father's name, and ye receive Me not; if another shall come in his own name, him ye will receive.
v. 44. How can ye believe, which receive honor one of another, and seek not the honor that cometh from God only?
v. 45. Do not think that I will accuse you to the Father; there is one that accuseth you, even Moses, in whom ye trust.
v. 46. For had ye believed Moses, ye would have believed Me; for he wrote of Me.
v. 47. But if ye believe not his writings, how shall ye believe My words?
A most diligent perusal, a ceaseless searching of Scriptures is recommended by Jesus. The Scriptures, as the Jews had them in those days, as they were used by them in synagogue and Temple, contained the historical books of the Old Testament, the books of the prophets, and the Psalms. This book was complete in the days of Jesus, it bore that collective title; the Jews knew exactly to what Jesus was referring. And to the Scriptures Jesus appeals as to an authority. He thereby acknowledges and confesses the inspiration and the inerrancy of the Old Testament. And this fact was accepted without question also by the Jewish teachers. For that reason their belief that they could find in it eternal life, that they had in it the revelation of the way to heaven, was well founded. But one thing they no longer knew, or else ignored most shamefully, namely this, that the Scriptures contain eternal life only because they testify of Jesus the Savior. Jesus Christ is the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end of the Old Testament revelation. The Jews should therefore have gotten a correct picture of the Messiah, and they should have applied the Old Testament prophecy to this great Teacher. But their evil will refused to come to Jesus; they rejected the life which He was offering to them. They deliberately spurned His offer of grace and mercy and chose rather the way of damnation than to accept the Holy One of God. And, incidentally, they had no reason for their rejection, so far as the behavior of Jesus was concerned. For He did not seek honor from men. His methods did not savor of the schemes of the modern evangelists that seek honor and get notoriety. Christ wanted no glory from men, would not receive it from them. So they cannot make that a reason for rejecting Him. Jesus has a full understanding of them and of their case, and His words are a merciless exposure of the thoughts of their mind. There was no real love of God in their hearts, They dissembled, they proved their hypocrisy at every turn. For if such love were truly in their hearts, they would have felt obliged to accept Christ, the Minister of God in a most peculiar sense. He did not come in His own name, seeking His own aggrandizement, any benefit from men; His motives were altogether unselfish. But such is the perversity of their hearts that they refused Him a decent hearing and were far from accepting Him, whereas they would be easily taken in by a deceiver who would come in his own name. This was shown in a number of instances in the history of the Jews. Again and again false Messiahs arose, among whom Bar Cochba and Shabbatai Sebi are notable, who found no difficulty in getting many adherents. The Jews were altogether insane in their eagerness to follow these deceivers. But Jesus, who came in His Father's name, was rejected. That fact characterized the Jews of the time of Jesus, and also since: they sought their own honor, they were very much concerned about honor before men, and wanted flattery and received homage from one another. This spirit is diametrically opposed to the spirit of the Christ, who scorned all such flimsy subterfuge. Far better to seek the honor which God alone can give, and which comes only to the meek and lowly in heart! That is the real reason for unbelief, that men seek their own advantage and care nothing about God and about His opinion concerning their sinfulness and their need of regeneration. Therefore the final judgment of unbelief will be all the more severe.
Under these circumstances, it will not be necessary for Jesus to bring any accusation against the Jews at the court of God, for their own Moses, their lawgiver, of whom they boast, will condemn them in his own writings. They hoped to be saved by the works of, the Law, not knowing that Moses himself in no way taught that they could be saved by such deeds, but that he pointed forward, in type and prophecy, to the Messiah and His salvation. Really to believe the message of Moses is to believe in Jesus the Savior. For Moses had prophesied of Jesus and had urged his people that they give Him honor and obedience. It would be Moses, therefore, that would condemn them. The writings of Moses they would not believe; how. then, would they believe the sayings of Christ? Things that had been written and codified and taught for centuries they refused to believe, although they pointed directly forward to only one Man. There was therefore little hope of their believing the words of this one Man, though all the circumstances of prophecy and fulfillment could be shown to agree. The same facts hold true today. Many people refuse to believe Scriptural sermons because they refuse to believe that the Bible is the inspired Word of God.
Summary. Jesus heals the sick ma n
of Bethesda, answers the objection of the Jews to this Sabbath healing, shows the relation between Him and His Father, and proves that He has the witness both of the works and of the Word of the Father for His divine mission.
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Kretzmann, Paul E. Ph. D., D. D. "Commentary on John 5". "Kretzmann's Popular Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/
the Second Week after Epiphany