The Book of John is unique among the Gospel accounts. You may read it when you are yet in shallow waters near the shore, and you will find Jesus there. You may read it and find yourself totally immersed in deep truths about God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. Sometimes I will go deep, and if it is too much, don’t worry! Stay in the shallow waters for a bit. He will take you deeper, as you get to know Him!
Chapter 5 shows you Jesus as Healer, Jesus as the Son of God, Jesus as Savior. You will also know the witnesses that testify that Jesus is indeed the Messiah, the Christ of God, and why those who reject Him will be judged. NOTE: When I speak of “the religious elite” or “the Jewish elite,” I mean the Pharisees, Sadducees, scribes (lawyers that specialized in the Law of Moses), priests, and rabbis.
Verse 1 — Jesus went up to Jerusalem for a feast of the Jews, probably the Passover. God specified to Moses that this was one of three feasts that Jews are required to attend (see Exodus 23:14-17).
Verses 2-4 — The pool at Bethesda (house of kindness, in Hebrew) was described. A multitude of the sick, blind, lame and withered were there, waiting for the moving of the waters, because an angel sometimes stirred the waters, and whoever was first to enter the pool was healed.
Verses 5-6 — A man was there who had been in his sickness for 38 years. Jesus knew this man’s history, just as with the woman at the well. When Jesus saw him lying there, He asked him what would seem to be a strange question. “Do you wish to get well?” The word “wish” means, “prefer.” Who wouldn’t prefer to be well rather than be in this sickness, probably some form of paralysis, for 38 years? But Jesus asked this question so the man would reveal his heart by way of his answer (see Matthew 12:34).
Verses 7-9 — So the man answered, calling Jesus “Sir.” He did not know Jesus Christ. Notice that the man did not worship Jesus. He simply explained that he tried to get into the pool when the water is stirred up, but someone else always beats him to it. The man’s eyes were on the pool and not Jesus.
Is that true of you today? Readjust your vision as I show you what Jesus did.
He said to the man, “Get up, pick up your pallet (like a mattress) and walk.” IMMEDIATELY, the man became well (his body became sound and healthy). When Jesus speaks, it must be done.
Note that Jesus does not say, “Go, your faith has saved you,” nor “your sin is forgiven.” Why? Continue with me, and you will learn.
It was a Sabbath on that day. The Jewish elite said no one could do any kind of work at all on the Sabbath. You will see that they considered this act of God the Son to be a violation of the Sabbath established by God (Exodus 20). What irony! Men determine whether God is observant of His own laws! And yet, do we not do that today when we reinterpret the Bible and follow Satan’s lead in saying, “Did God really say?” (See Genesis 3:4.)
Verses 10-13 — The Jewish elite put the hammer down. What? You were cured on the Sabbath? Who was it that violated the Law? Who did this? The man didn’t know Jesus’ name. He said, “The one who said, ‘Pick up you pallet and walk.’”
The Jews pressed the man for the name of this violator of the Sabbath. But Verse 13 clearly shows us that the man did not know who it was. Jesus did not remain with the man after He spoke to him. Jesus had quietly withdrawn from him. He knew what was in this man’s heart.
Verses 14-15 — Jesus didn’t say, “Your faith has saved you,”’ because the man did not have faith in Him. Jesus didn’t say, “Your sin is forgiven,” because the man’s sin had not been forgiven. That is why Jesus came to him in the Temple and said to him, “Behold, you have become well; do not sin anymore, so that nothing worse happens to you.”
Behold, man at the pool at Bethesda! See! Understand that no one could heal you but God, and here you are, healed! God the Son has touched you. So do not sin anymore. In this case, the man’s illness was caused by his sin.
What is the “worse” that will happen, if the man continues to sin? Some who say that you can “lose your healing” use this passage to prove it. But I am not the only one who believes that Jesus is referring to judgment and damnation here. The wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23). The man was healed so that he might wake up and ask forgiveness and turn from his sin.
And man was healed so God would be honored and praised. But carefully note that neither the healed man nor the Jewish elite honored and praised God.
So the man now knew Jesus’ name, and reported Him to the Jewish elite.
Verses 16-17 — Because the religious elite now knew it was Jesus, they persecuted (were hostile toward) Jesus. He had done this wonderful God-work on the Sabbath. Shame on Him! But He replied that His Father is working (unceasingly at work) even now, and Jesus Himself is unceasingly at work. Jesus Christ remains the same yesterday and today and forever (Hebrews 13:8). He is still at work! What good news for you and me!
Verse 18 — Because of Jesus’ response, the Jews wanted to kill Him. Why? He not only broke the Sabbath but also called God, “My Father.” How could this mere man named Jesus be equal to God? It was blasphemy in their eyes, and they judged Jesus as a sinner of the highest degree.
Verses 19-20 — Jesus answered by giving them a lesson on what it is to be the Son of God, what it is to have an intimate, holy relationship with God the Father, as God the Son. (NOTE: When we are filled with the Holy Spirit, we can say the same things He was about to tell them). Here’s what it is like, He said:
— I can do nothing of Myself; unless I see the Father doing it. Then the Son does exactly what He sees the Father doing.
— I can do this because My Father loves Me. I am His Son.
— Because the Father loves me, He shows me everything He is doing.
— And the Father will show you even greater works than the healing of the man at the pool at Bethesda (and the other miracles, healings, and deliverances recorded in the other three gospels). Why? So you will marvel; that is, you will wonder and admire.
As we continue in the Book of John, you will see the greater works.
Verse 21 — Jesus then told them one miracle that He would do. Just as the Father raised the dead, so would Jesus. He did that with Lazarus and others, when He walked the earth. But He meant more than that. Before you know Jesus, you are spiritually dead. But when you believe in Him, you are born from above and receive spiritual life, His life. And Jesus, the Son of God, said He will give life (zoe, life as God has it, eternal life) to whom He wishes. The Hebrew understanding is “whom He delights in.” God the Father and God the Son are not capricious. But God the Father and God the Son delight in those who come to God the Son and ask for eternal life, and the Father and the Son rejoice as they give people that life (Luke 15:6, 9)!
Verses 22-23 — The Father gave all judgment authority to the Son. This is judgment as to whether we are damned or saved. What is such a judgment based upon? We either honor (revere)the Son (and thus, honor His Father), or we dishonor the Son (judging Him as disgraceful and not worthy of respect, and thus, doing the same to His Father). He does not send us to damnation. We send ourselves, if we reject Jesus Christ.
Verse 24 — Truly, truly. A very important truth! If you hear Jesus Christ’s word and believe in the Father who sent Him, you have eternal life. You will not be judged. You have passed out of death and into life.
Everyone’s position at birth is death. We are born sinners. Sin leads to judgment and death. But if we believe, we enter into eternal life. It is just like going through a door. The Door is Christ (John 10:9). We step over the threshold and see God’s kingdom for the first time! Our past sins fall away. We are forgiven. We hear His call to be baptized in the Holy Spirit. We obey. Our hearts are purified and filled with God’s actual love. We become witnesses that Jesus Christ is exactly who He says He is.
Verse 25 — Truly, truly! Another great truth! It is currently time for the spiritually dead to hear the voice of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. Those who hear will live. They will enter into eternal life, through Jesus Christ. Their bodies will fall away when they grow old, but they have God’s eternal Holy Spirit in them, and the part of them that cannot be weighed or measured — their spirits — will continue forever, in the very presence of God. And there is a resurrection of their bodies, as you will see shortly.
Verses 26-27 — Great truth continues. God the Father possesses and lives this eternal life. God the Son also possesses and lives this eternal life. And because Jesus Christ is also the Son of Man, having been born by the Holy Spirit and Mary, to become human while retaining His divinity, Jesus Christ has the authority to judge and follow through on it, fulfilling it.
Verse 28-29 — Great truth continues. An hour IS coming (but is not yet here) in which all who are in the tombs will hear His voice. This is a warning of the coming judgment of all of the dead and the living. What is this judgment?
Those who did the good [not good deeds, but those who heard the voice of Jesus Christ, loved Him and obeyed Him] will to go to a resurrection of life (2Thessalonians 4:15-17, 1Corinthians 15:52). This is the first resurrection (Revelation 20:5).
Those who did the evil [who did not come to Christ because they loved evil and didn’t want their evil deeds to be exposed, per John 3:19) will go to a resurrection of judgment. This is the second death, the Great White Throne judgment (Revelation 20:11-15).
Verse 30 — Jesus again repeated that He did nothing on His own. He does what He sees the Father doing. His judgment is just (right) because He does nothing by His own will, but only does what is the Father’s will. And the Father sent Him.
Verse 31-32 — And here is the proof. If there was nothing but Jesus Christ’s testimony of who He is, it could not be admitted as evidence of who He is.
But there is another who testified of Him. This first witness is the testimony of the Holy Spirit. Why do I say that? Because Jesus’ words about the testimony of John and the rest come after this. The Holy Spirit filled and remained in Jesus Christ after John baptized Him in water, as I pointed out in John 1. Your Bible probably capitalizes the “He” in this passage, when Jesus refers to the witness of the Holy Spirit. I agree with the translators.
Verse 33-35 — And John the Baptist has testified to the truth. But Jesus said His testimony does not need to come from man. Jesus said this so they might remember John the Baptist’s words, repent, and be saved. The Jews were willing to stand and rejoice in John’s light for just an hour. So very short a time! And many of the religious elite rejected John the Baptist entirely and refused to repent and be baptized.
Verse 36 — And even greater than John’s testimony were the God works that Jesus did. They were the works the Father gave God the Son to finish and make complete, and no one else could have done them but God. These testify that the Father sent Him.
Verse 37-38 — Even more, the Father Himself had testified of Him. In Matthew 3:17, the Father says, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” But the Jewish elite had never, ever heard the voice of the Father or seen His form. They had never been in His presence, but they were very religious.
It is very possible to appear to be very knowledgeable about the Word of God and very moral in your behavior, and yet not know God at all.
Jesus told the religious elite that His word, which they studied right-side up, upside-down and sideways, was not in them. They looked at it, but it never entered into them, so their hearts remained unchanged.
The Word of God is living and active, sharper than any double-edged sword, able to penetrate even to the point of dividing soul and spirit, joint and marrow, judging the thoughts and attitudes of our hearts (Hebrews 4:12). But the religious elite pick it apart and kill its power, because they have never known the One who inspired it.
Verse 39-40 — Jesus agreed that the religious elite searched the Scriptures, studying them intently, but they did so because they believed that knowing about God will give them eternal life. But Jesus said those Scriptures testify of Him! And yet they were unwilling to come to Him so they may have eternal life.
NOTE: The Old Testament (Tenakh) speaks of Jesus many, many times. It was the only Bible the early church had, until the New Testament books were written. And by it, and the verbal instructions of the Apostles, they were able to walk as Jesus walked. But what a gift we have in the New Testament! The eyewitness accounts and the written instructions are written to help us understand, and they convict, encourage and strengthen us!
Verses 41-43 — Jesus did not accept men’s praise (but we will see that the religious elite valued men’s praise greatly). Jesus fully and completely knew these who rejected Him. He knew their hearts. He knew they did not have God’s actual love inside themselves.
How did He know? Because He came in His Father’s name, in His Father’s love, having His Father’s authority, character, and power.
If the religious elite had God’s actual love inside themselves, they would have welcomed and honored Him. Instead, they rejected Him.
But they welcomed anyone who came in his own name, who did not have God’s love, authority, character or power. Their desire was to impress one another with their great knowledge, but it was empty knowledge because they never knew the Father.
Verse 44 — It is literally impossible for them to believe that Jesus is God the Son when they are so busy trying to impress one another with empty knowledge. They never sought to have the seal of approval of the one and only God.
Take note, professors at seminaries across this nation and around the world!
Verse 45-47 — Jesus said He didn’t need to accuse them before the Father. Moses, whom they regarded as being like God, accused them. They set their hope in Moses, thinking if they obeyed the Law that God gave Moses, they would have eternal life. But eternal life comes only through faith in Jesus Christ.
They did not really believe Moses, Jesus told them, because if they did, they would believe Jesus, because Moses wrote about Him. But they did not believe Moses’ writings, or they would believe Jesus Christ, the One about whom He wrote. (See Luke 24:25-27.) Here is a PARTIAL list: Genesis 3:15, Genesis 12:3, Numbers 21:9, Deuteronomy 18:15, 2Samuel 7:12-16, Isaiah 7:14, Isaiah 9:1ff, Isaiah 42:1, Isaiah 53:4, Daniel 7:13, Micah 5:2, Zechariah 9:9.
All of Jesus Christ’s words offended the religious elite. He did not spare any words, but boldly told them that they did not know God at all. He was zealous for the Father and His house (Psalm 69:9). I am, too, because Jesus Christ is in me!