John’s Gospel Chapter 5
E. L. Lovering, Ilfracombe
1. THE CIRCUMSTANCES, V. I.
'There was a feast of the Jews, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem'. It is perhaps significant that this occasion is designated 'a feast of the Jews' and not as it was originally 'a feast of Jehovah'. Man has often diverted to his own purpose that which was intended for God's own pleasure. A study of the feasts of Jehovah, Lev. 23, will well repay the reader. Here we briefly note the following -
The Feast, of the Passover - The paschal lamb a type of redemption. This was the first feast of the Jewish calendar, and it marked the beginning of Israel's spiritual history. Man can only deal with God, and God can only deal with man on the basis of redemption.
The Feast of the Firstfruits - The sheaf of firstfruits was waved before the Lord 'on the morrow after the sabbath' - a type and witness to the fact of resurrection. Of this type the Lord Jesus is the antitype; on the day after the sabbath He rose from the dead: 'Now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept', 1 Cor. 15. 20.
The Feast of Pentecost (or Weeks) - Connected with the offering of the wave-sheaf on the morrow after the sabbath. As the wave-sheaf points to the resurrection of Christ, so Pentecost, on which the two wave-loaves were offered, represents believers as partakers of Christ's resurrection life, walking before God in newness of life, Eph. 3. 10-12.
The Feast of Trumpets - Took place at the beginning of Israel's year. With the past behind them and the future before them, this feast was Israel's remembrance and acknowledgment of Jehovah as king. For the believer it is a call to worshipful remembrance of 'the kindness and love of God our Saviour'.
The Feast of Atonement - Three days after the Feast of Trumpets and closely connected with it. Atonement for sin, and rest from labour distinguished it. It was a time for sober and serious reflection. (Cf. Jer. 8. 19 and Zech. 12. 10-14).
The Feast of Tabernacles - A feast of joy. It was the last feast and ended with the sabbath - a beautiful type of the eternal state.
2. THE CROWD, v. 3.
'A great multitude of impotent folk, of blind, halt, withered, waiting . . .'. Four categories, indicating universal helpless¬ness and need.
3. THE CASE, V. 5.
A man who is nameless (a certain man); friendless (Sir, I have no man); helpless (while I am coming, shuffling myself along); hopeless (another steppeth down before me); sinful -his infirmity directly due to sinful indulgence, v. 14.
4. THE CHRIST.
His Mission. He was 'anointed to preach the gospel to the poor, to heal the broken-hearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovery of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, to preach the acceptable year of the Lord', Luke 4. 18, 19.
His Method. In crisp, cogent sentences, He addresses this man: 'Wilt thou be made whole?' v. 6 - this to stir his hope. 'Rise, take up thy bed and walk', v. 8, this to stimulate his faith. 'Behold, thou art made whole: sin no more, lest a worse thing come unto thee', v. 14, this to secure his love.
His Personal Interest. He saw this man among the crowd at the pool. We can think of other instances of this: Nathanael under the fig tree; the disciples toiling in the rowing; the poor widow amid the throng in the temple. How personal was our Lord's interest in this man! 'He saw him'; how perfect was His knowledge of this man. He 'knew that he had been a long time in that case'; how potent were His words to this man! 'Jesus said unto him, Rise, take up thy bed, and walk. And immediately the man was made whole, and walked'.
His Accessibility. Only al certain times was there any healing virtue in the pool of Bethesda, and even then its efficacy was limited to one fortunate sufferer who was quick and strong enough to be the first to step into the pool. The Lord Jesus is available at all times to all men. Instead of 'whosoever first', it is now 'whosoever will'.
5. THE CURE
It was Immediate - 'Rise'.
Complete - 'Take up thy bed'.
Permanent - 'Walk'.
Manifest - 'Jesus findeth him in the temple'. Spiritual activity should always accompany spiritual life, and spiritual blessings are more important than material benefits.
6. THE CRITICS, V. 9-47.
The Charge. 'The Jews therefore said ... It is the sabbath day: it is not lawful for thee to carry thy bed', v. 10; 'The Jews sought to kill him, because he had not only broken the sabbath, but said also that God was his Father, making himself equal with God'.
Note, (a) That the critics were people of extremes; they said of Jesus that He was too sociable, that He was a friend of publicans and sinners; and of John that lie was too separate, and came neither eating nor drinking; (b) that the charge was twofold - it referred to the day and the deity. To the critics a broken tradition was of more importance than a healed man. The existence of human prejudice prevents the expression of divine power.
7. THE CLAIM.
Note (a) The Saviour's claim for co-operation with God. a threefold verily, verily - The Submissive One, in the Work of God. 'The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do', v. 19; 'My Father worketh hitherto, and I work', v. 17. God cannot rest while sin prevails.
The Sent One, as the Word of God. 'He that heareth my word, and believeth him that sent me', v. 24.
The Son of God, as the Witness of God. '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. 25.
(b) The Saviour's claim to equality with God. Witnesses to the claim are -
John - 'he bore witness unto the truth', v. 33.
The Works of the Father - 'the works which the Father hath given me to finish, the same works that I do, bear witness of me', v. 36.
The Father Himself - 'which hath sent me, hath borne witness of me; v. 37.
The Scriptures - 'they are they which testify of me', v. 39.
8. THE CHALLENGE.
The Jews were ignorant of His deity because they were -
Without Light - 'Ye have neither heard his voice at any time, nor seen his shape', v. 37.
Without Life - 'ye will not come to me, that ye might have life', v. 40.
Without Love - 'But I know you, that ye have not the love of God in you', v. 42.