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Bible Commentaries

Spurgeon's Verse Expositions of the Bible
John 5

 

 

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Verses 1-9

John 5:1-9. After this there was a feast of the Jews; and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. Now there is at Jerusalem by the sheep market a pool, which is called in the Hebrew tongue Bethesda, having five porches. In these lay a great multitude of impotent folk, of blind, halt, withered, waiting for the moving of the water. 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. And a certain man was there, which had an infirmity thirty and eight years. 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? The impotent man answered him, Sir, have no man, when the water is troubled, to put me into the pool: but while I am coming, another steppeth down before me. Jesus saith unto him, Rise, take up thy bed, and walk. And immediately the man was made whole, and took up his bed, and walked: and on the same day was the sabbath.

I hope to speak on these miracles in my discourse, so only briefly refer to them now; but this Sabbath afforded another memorable instance of our Lord’s healing power. In the ninth chapter of John’s Gospel you have the remarkable story of the man born blind. (See John 9:1-14)

This exposition consisted of readings from Luke 4:33-36; Luke 6:6-11; Luke 13:10-17; Luke 14:1-6; John 5:1-9; ND 9:1-14.


Verses 1-23

John 5:1. After this there was a feast of the Jews; and Jesus went up to Jerusalem.

For he had respect to the Law. As long as the Law lasted, Christ observed it. Oh, that we were as careful to obey the rules of the Gospel as our Lord was to observe the ritual of the Law! Moreover, he went to Jerusalem because he had an opportunity of addressing great numbers of people there. While I have been resting at Menton, I have been very glad to be of service to a few friends who were either seeking the Saviour, or needing some guidance in their spiritual life; but I cannot tell you how happy I am to be once more in the Tabernacle, preaching to the great congregation. Fisherman like to cast their nets where there are plenty of fish; and fishers of men delight to be where there are many men who may be enclosed in the gospel net. “After this there was a feast of the Jews; and Jesus went up to Jerusalem.”

John 5:2. Now there is at Jerusalem by the sheep market a pool, which is called in the Hebrew tongue Bethesda, having five porches.

This pool of Bethesda was rightly called “the house of mercy”; but it might have just as truly named “the house of misery”: for its “five porches” were the abode of many who were in misery, and who needed mercy.

John 5:3. In these lay a great multitude of impotent folk,

Invalid persons, diseased, and scarcely able to move.

John 5:3. Of blind, halt, withered, waiting for the moving of the water.

What a sight for the Great Physician to look upon! The whole world must have been to him like one huge hospital, full of “impotent folk, blind, halt withered.” Wherever he went, he was surrounded by the sick, and sad, and suffering, those who were afflicted physically, mentally, and spiritually. But there was a special reason for the gathering together of so many sufferers at the pool of Bethesda.

John 5:4. 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.

It was the last remnant of miracle. Such things were common enough in Judaea in her better days; but now the times of the prophets had ceased, and the day of miracles was almost over. Here, at Bethesda, were just a few relics and remnants of the good old days. Only one was cured, he that stepped into the pool first after the angel had troubled the water. It was but a scanty power that was left to the troubled water; but it was quite enough, if only one in a thousand was healed, to bring a crowd of people to wait around the pool. If only one person in a year were saved, I should not wonder if you thronged the place to hear the gospel that saved him; but your privilege is much greater. Here all who come, if they will hear and believe, shall find healing. It is not the first only, but even unto the last who shall step into the pool, that shall be healed.

John 5:5. And a certain man was there, which had an infirmity thirty and eight years.

That was a great portion of the man’s life. If he was a full-grown man when he was attacked with the infirmity, he had now become old and gray. What a long time to be afflicted, thirty and eight years! Have we not with us at this time some who have been afflicted with the soul-sickness of sin more than thirty and eight years?

John 5:6. When Jesus saw him lie.

The Great Physician fixed his eye on him, for his was an extraordinary case. Probably he was known and talked of as the man who had been paralyzed eight and thirty years. Note that it does not say, “When the man saw Jesus,” but “when Jesus saw him.” He did not know Jesus; possibly he had not even heard of his healing power and compassionate love. He was not seeking Jesus; but Jesus was seeking him. It was so with many of us;

and therefore we sing —

“Jesus sought me when a stranger,

Wandering from the fold of God;

He, to rescue me from danger,

Interposed his precious blood.”

When Jesus saw the impotent man, — And knew that he had been now a long time in that case, And a long time in that place, too, — He saith unto him, Wilt thou be made whole? That must have seemed a strange question. What was he there for, if not to be made whole? But I will show you, by-and-by, that there was wisdom in the question of Jesus. It was no idle curiosity that moved him to enquire of the man whether he was willing to be made whole.

John 5:7. 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,

Shuffling along, as best I may, to the water’s edge, —

John 5:7. Another steppeth down before me.

Then, of course, the curative miracle is wrought, and the curative power of the water is gone until another season, when the angel troubles it again.

John 5:8-9. Jesus saith unto him, Rise, take up thy bed, and walk. And immediately the man was made whole, and took up his bed, and walked: and on the same day was the sabbath.

This is our Sabbath. Oh, that we might have the same miracle wrought here tonight, upon many spiritually impotent folk!

John 5:10-11. The Jews therefore said unto him that was cured,. It is the sabbath day: it is not lawful for thee to carry thy bed, He answered them,

And he did answer them, too. It was a crushing answer.

John 5:11. He that made me whole, the same said unto me, Take up thy bed, and walk.

That was his warrant. None but God could have made him whole. God can set aside any of his laws if he pleases; at any rate, whatever he commands, must be right.

John 5:12. Then asked they him, What man is that which saith unto thee, Take up thy bed, and walk?

They asked, “What man” had given this command. Why, if it had been a mere man who had said it, the impotent man could not either have taken up his bed, or have walked!

John 5:13. And he that was healed wist not who it was: for Jesus had conveyed himself away, a multitude being in that place.

He never sought notoriety; but avoided popular demonstrations in his favor. The man who had been healed had exercised faith in Jesus, but he knew very little about him. A certain something in the air and mien of Christ had won his faith; but he did not know his name, or who he was. How small may be your knowledge, and yet you may be saved by true faith!

John 5:14. 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.

Probably, this man’s illness had been caused by sin. Christ bids him henceforth keep clear of sin, lest a worse calamity should come upon him.

John 5:15. The man departed, and told the Jews that it was Jesus, which had made him whole.

Full of joy, full of delight, he must tell out the name of him who had cured him, as grateful patients like to sound the praises of their physician when he has been the means of healing them.

John 5:16. And therefore did the Jews persecute Jesus, and sought to slay him, because he had done these things on the sabbath day.

This was a mere pretense, an idle excuse for their enmity. They not only hated Christ; but they must besmear him with their calumnies, and make him out to be an evil-doer although he was goodness itself.

John 5:17. But Jesus answered them, My Father worketh hitherto, and I work.

The whole work of nature is continued on Sabbath-days as well as other days. Stars shine through the Sabbath-night, and the sun rises and sets on the Lord’s-day as on all the days of the week. God’s work continues. “My Father worketh,” saith Christ, “and I work.” “My work is my Father’s work, and that goes on whatever the day may be.”

John 5:18. Therefore the Jews sought the more to kill him, because he had not only broken the sabbath, but said also that God was his Father, making himself equal with God.

They did not understand him to preach Unitarianism; they understood him to proclaim his own true and proper Godhead, and he never contradicted them, for he was God.

John 5:19. 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.

Christ’s work runs parallel with that of the Father. The Father and the Son ever work in perfect harmony with one another.

John 5:20-22. For the Father loveth the Son, and sheweth him all things that himself doeth; and he will shew him greater works than these, that ye may marvel. For as the Father raiseth up the dead, and quickeneth them; even so the Son quickeneth whom he will. For the Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son:

The Son as well as the Father, is the Quickener of the dead. The Son is also the Judge of all men.

John 5:23. That all men should honour the Son, even as they honour the Father. He that honoureth not the Son honoureth not the Father which hath sent him.

As the universal Judge, the Lord Jesus is to be honoured by all men, “even as they honour the Father.” Whatever others may do, or not do, we will honour the Father, we will honour the Son, and we will honour the Holy Spirit, three in one and one in three, the one God of Israel, for ever and ever.


Verses 24-44

John 5:24. Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, —

If we truly believe the word of Christ, and trust in him who sent his Son into the world, we have at this moment everlasting life.

John 5:24. And shalt not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.

What a grand verse this is! It is worthy to be written in letters of gold at every street corner; would that we all knew the fullness of its meaning by heartfelt experience!

John 5:25-30. 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. For as the Father hath life in himself; so hath he given to the Son to have life in himself; and hath given him authority to execute judgment also, because he is the Son of man. Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, 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. 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.

Christ as Mediator did the will of the Father, and yet also did his own will, for his will was always the same as his Father’s.

John 5:31. If I bear witness of myself, my witness is not true.

He did bear witness to himself by his miracles, but that was not the witness upon which he relied, nor was it the only witness to the truth of his mission.

John 5:32-40. There is another that beareth witness of me; and I know that the witness which he witnesseth of me is true. Ye sent unto John, and he bare witness unto the truth. But I receive not testimony from man: but these things I say, that ye might be saved. He was a burning and a shining light: and ye were willing for a season to rejoice in his light. 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. 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. And ye have not his word abiding in you: for whom he hath sent, him ye believe not. Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me. And ye will not come to me, that ye might have life.

They were great Bible-readers, great students of the letter, but they would not come to Christ; and hence the Scriptures themselves became a sepulcher in which they were entombed.

John 5:41-44. I receive not honour from men. But I know you, that ye have not the love of God in you. 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. How can ye believe, which receive honour one of another, and seek not the honour that cometh from God only?

Some men find it difficult to believe in Christ because they are always seeking honour for themselves; desire for the praise of men often blinds the mind and prejudices the spirit. How boldly our great Master speaks! There is no flattery on his lips. He is the faithful and true Witness, the very Word of God. Oh, that all men would give heed to his message!

This exposition consisted of readings from Genesis 45:9-28; and John 5:24-44.

 


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Bibliography Information
Spurgeon, Charle Haddon. "Commentary on John 5:4". "Spurgeon's Verse Expositions of the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/spe/john-5.html. 2011.

Lectionary Calendar
Monday, September 16th, 2019
the Week of Proper 19 / Ordinary 24
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