Harmony of the Gospels, (12) Goes to Jerusalem for Second Passover; Heals Lame Man

 Harmony of the Gospels

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Jerusalem
(12) Goes to Jerusalem for Second Passover; Heals Lame Man
(Exodus 20:10) John 5:1-47

 

The healing of the impotent man by the pool of Bethesda is a very wonderful incident.  But it is also a turning point in the ministry of Christ.  You see, after this the religious leaders determined to kill him. (See verse 16)  They stayed on His track and waited for the right time.  They never let up until they put Him to death on the cross.

The clash between Jesus and the religious leaders was over the Sabbath.  They never forgave Him for what He did on the Sabbath days, and then when He said, “…..The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath,” (Mark 2:27) they hated Him.  They hated Him because of the miracles He did on the Sabbath days and because He made Himself equal with God.

After Jesus heals the impotent man by the pool of Bethesda, He makes several claims about Himself, which His enemies understood as “making Himself equal with God.”  The religious leaders believed that He made this claim and they hated Him because of it.  There are those today who say that the Bible doesn’t say that Jesus claimed deity or to be equal with God.  They must be ignorant of God’s word and have never read the fifth chapter of John.

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. (John 5:1-3)

It is really not important, but I believe that it was the Feast of Passover, that brought Jesus to Jerusalem.

The action is going to take place around a pool of water.  A great number of sick people had gathered around the pool, waiting for a miraculous movement of the water.  “Impotent folk” are people without strength.

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. (John 5:4)

Now we know why they were there.  They believed that at times an angel came down and caused some movement in the water.  When that happened, the first person in the water was healed.  If there was some history of this happening, we are not told.  Had people been healed in this manner before?  Probably.  I believe that a great many people today have psychological problems that make them sick.  Sometimes these people go to faith healers and they think they get healed.  There is always the question of whether they were ever really sick.  Another question is whether they stay permanently healed.  The point is that the Lord Jesus healed people 2000 years ago, and He heals people today, but He does not do it by troubling the water.  Also, we can go directly to the Great Physician.  We do not need to go to a certain auditorium for healing.  I am thankful that today He uses the skill of doctors and surgeons when He heals.  Don’t forget to thank Him when you experience healing. 

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

A certain man was laid by the pool by friends or family.  It was probably where he spent every day.  We are not given any details about him, except that he had been afflicted for 38 years and that his condition made it difficult for him to move.  If anything marked the man’s life, it was disappointment over his inability to get into the water.  He will lay out his case before Jesus, but first Jesus is going to deal with this man in a most unusual way.

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. (John 5:6)

That is indeed a peculiar question to ask anyone who is sick, “Do you earnestly desire to be made whole?”  Why do you suppose that He asked that question?  I suggest that there may have been a couple of reasons.  First, to reignite hope in the man’s heart.  He had been disappointed so many times, that the light of hope may have gone out.  Second, He needed to get the man to turn his attention to Him.  He was so focused on the pool that his problem was no longer the infirmity; he thought that his problem was that he didn’t have anyone to help him into the water.

Many people today are like this man, always waiting for something.  That has also been my problem and the problem that some of the people in our churches have.  They are waiting for some emotional experience to sweep them into accepting Christ.  Some are waiting until they get “better”, by eliminating some sin in their lives.  The problem that so many share is that their eyes are on some thing and it is the wrong thing.  In Thessalonica, the Thessalonians “…..turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God.” (1 Thessalonians 1:9)  They took their eyes off idols and turned to Jesus Christ.  You don’t need to wait for something to happen.  The only thing that you need, to turn to Jesus Christ, is to recognize that you have a need.

I imagine that this man looked up at Jesus, amazed that anyone would ask him a question like this.

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. (John 5:7)

What a sad story.  His condition is hopeless.  He is saying, “Of course I want to be made whole, but I don’t have anyone to put me into the pool.  Would you put me into the pool?”  Jesus has no intention of helping him into the pool.  In fact, He plans to get him away from the pool, and to get him to turn his eyes on Him.  The moment he does, something will happen.

Jesus saith unto him, Rise, take up thy bed, and walk. (John 5:8)

Jesus told the man to get up and pick up his bed and to start walking.  He is not going to need his bed, because there is not going to be a relapse.

And immediately the man was made whole, and took up his bed, and walked: and on the same day was the sabbath.  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, He that made me whole, the same said unto me, Take up thy bed, and walk.  Then asked they him, What man is that which said unto thee, Take up thy bed, and walk?  And he that was healed wist not who it was: for Jesus had conveyed himself away, a multitude being in that place. (John 5:9-13)

The man carrying his bed broke Jewish law, but not God’s law.  The Son of God had told him to take his bed with him, but when the Jews saw it, they stopped him and said, “It is the Sabbath day: it is not lawful for thee to carry thy bed.”  They should have celebrated, along with the man that was healed, but their only concern was the law.

The man did not even take time to find out who healed him.  So he couldn’t answer them when they asked, “Who healed you?”  Also it may have been that Jesus got himself away from the crowd in some miraculous way, because He was no longer by the pool.

The man is well.  He is free to move in a normal way for the first time in 38 years.  However, he is still a lost sinner and he needs a Savior. 
 
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.  The man departed, and told the Jews that it was Jesus, which had made him whole.  And therefore did the Jews persecute Jesus, and sought to slay him, because he had done these things on the sabbath day. (John 5:14-16)

Jesus went looking for him, because He was not finished with him.  He had healed him physically, but now He is going to treat his soul.  Jesus is more interested in the man’s soul than his physical problems.  He told him, “Sin no more”, which partially implies that his paralysis was the result of sin.  In the Jewish mind sickness was the consequence of sin.  There are physical consequences of sin, which are evident today.  Aids, sexually transmitted diseases and several cancers, to name a few.  Sin and sickness have always been two sides of the same coin, and they both entered the world at the Fall.  When Jesus said, “Sin no more, lest a worse thing come unto thee”, it is a warning that there is something worse that physical sickness.  And that is sin, which separates man from God.

Jesus healed the man physically at the pool of Bethesda, but He healed his soul in the temple.

What about the multitudes that were left in the porches around the pool.  There is no indication that anyone else was healed.  Also today, there are multitudes that are not saved.  Isn’t Jesus willing to save them?  Yes, He is.  In fact, He has already done all the work required for their salvation.  But like the impotent man, they must look to Him.  Instead, they are just waiting for something to happen.

Because of this, “they sought to kill him.”  The bloodhounds of hate were on His trail, and they would not let up until He was on the cross.  When John says “Jews”, he was referring to the religious leaders.  They are the ones who want to kill Him.

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

God rested on the seventh day, after the creation of the universe.  Then man fell into sin, and he needed help seven days a week.  So God worked on the Sabbath also.  And Jesus claims here that He has the same right to work on the Sabbath that His Father does.

God’s law concerning the Sabbath is given in Exodus 20:10, “But the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, not thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates.”  It was given to the nation Israel in a very unusual way.  It was a covenant between God and Israel.  We have changed it from the seventh day to the first day of the week.  We do not observe the Sabbath in the same way that the Jews did, because it is not a command of God to us.  Instead, we are told in the New Testament to gather together with other believers and to worship him in Spirit and truth.  We do not have a long list of things that we cannot do on the Lord’s Day.

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. (John 5:18)

To the charge of breaking the Sabbath they add the charge of making Himself equal with God.  They want to kill Him, but they can’t.  Do you know why?  Because, it is not yet His time to die.  No one can take His life from Him, but He will lay it down at a time and place of His choosing.

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. (John 5:19)

Jesus is saying that He can do anything that the Father can do.  That includes forgiving sins.  There is a very special relationship that He is telling them about.  He is God the Son and He does the will of God the Father.  He doesn’t have His own agenda.  By this He is claiming that he is also God.  This is the first of three claims that He will make about Himself.

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. (John 5:20)

The second claim is that God loves Him.

For as the Father raiseth up the dead, and quickeneth them; even so the Son quickeneth whom he will. (John 5:21)

The third claim is that He can raise the dead.  The Father raises the dead and so can He.  The Gospels record that on three occasions He raised the dead; a young girl, the only son of a widow, and Lazarus.  However, I believe that there were many others that we are not told about.

Today, we hear a great deal about faith healers.  They claim to be able to remove sickness, but none are raising people from the dead.  But when Jesus gave the gift of healing to His apostles, He also gave them the power to raise the dead.  The scriptures describe how Peter and Paul raised the dead.  I believe that both of these gifts disappeared with the apostles.  Jesus raised the dead because He is God.  All other men did it in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ.

For the Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son: (John 5:22)

A literal reading would be, “For not even the Father judgeth anyone, but He hath given all judgment unto the Son.”  Jesus will judge everyone someday.  Both the saved and the lost will appear before Him.  Believers will appear before Him at the judgment that we call the Bema seat of Christ, to see whether they receive a reward. (See 2 Corinthians 5:10)  The lost will stand before Him at the Great White Throne judgment. (See Revelation 20:11)  Remember, at this time He has come as a Savior.  The next time that He comes it will be as a judge.  All judgment has been committed to Him.  Jesus has definitely put Himself on par with God.

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. (John 5:23)

Today there are several churches that honor God, but they say that Jesus was just a good man or a prophet.  This verse makes that kind of thinking an offense to God.  The only way to the Father is through the Son.  Jesus said, “…..I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man comes unto the Father, but by me.” (John 14:6)  It is because of the claims that He made about Himself, that we can use the next verse when dealing with the lost.

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. (John 5:24)

“Hath everlasting life.”  This is present tense.  Faith in Jesus Christ brings everlasting life to the believer.  Your soul enters into everlasting life the moment you believe.  There is no condemnation or judgment for the believer, because he passes from death into life, or you might say that he is “born again”, when he receives Christ as his Savior.

These are some tremendous statements, which Jesus has made about himself.  He is God (v 18); He raises the dead (v 21); and He is going to judge (v 22); and that salvation comes by faith in Him (v 24).  And now He continues by making another great statement.

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.  Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice.(John 5:25, 28)

“The hour is coming and now is.”  He is saying that we are living in the period, or age or dispensation that is moving to the time when “the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God: and they that hear shall live.”  If we are living in that age, what does He mean that it is also “now is”?  Who are the dead that hear His voice now?  When Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead, He said to his two sisters, “I am the resurrection and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: and whosoever liveth and believeth in me, shall never die.” (John 11:25-26)  “Though he were dead.”  He is not talking about a person in the grave; He is not referring to physical death.  The time is coming when those who are in the grave will hear His voice and live.  We are all dead in our trespasses and sins, until we hear His word and believe on Him.  Then we will not come into condemnation, but will pass from spiritual death unto the life that He produces in the heart of the believer.  The time is now when Christ gives spiritual life.  The time is coming when He will raise the dead out of the graves.

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. (John 5:26-27) 

Jesus referred to Himself as the Son of man because His vocation was to serve man through His teaching and His death.

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. (John 5:28-29)

Damnation in this instance is judgment.

Jesus is speaking here of two different resurrections.  These two resurrections are described in the book of Revelation.  The first resurrection (Revelation 20:4-6) is the resurrection of all who are saved.  The first phase will be the rapture of the church.  In 1 Thessalonians 4:17, Paul says that we will be “caught up”, which means “to be raptured.”  The rapture will happen in the future.  There are no signs given for it, but it could happen at any moment.  At the rapture He is going to call His own out of the world, both the living and the dead.  That is part of the first resurrection.  Then during the Tribulation period a great many believers are going to become myrters.  They will be raised at the end of the tribulation period along with the Old Testament saints.  This is also part of the first resurrection.  They will be raised to be forever upon this earth.  Our Lord calls this first resurrection the resurrection of life.

The second resurrection, the resurrection of judgment, is the Great White Throne judgment, when all saved of all ages will be raised. (See Revelation 20:11-15)  They will be judged for their works, because that is all they have to offer.  This will be their opportunity to stand before the Holy God, who is just and righteous, and to plead their case.  But God has already warned that there will be no one saved at that judgment.  Only the lost will stand there and they will be jugged according to their works, because there are degrees of punishment.
 
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. (John 5:30)

Jesus says, “I can of mine own self do nothing.”  This statement indicates how much He limited Himself when He took on flesh and blood, our humanity.  He became a man, so He could do the will of the Father.

“My judgment is just.”  We need to always bear in mind that God is never unjust.  I continue to be amazed that He would save any man.  He is showing us mercy when He saves us.  God only gives mercy or justice, never injustice.

If I bear witness of myself, my witness is not true.  There is another that beareth witness of me; and I know that the witness which he witnesseth of me is true. (John 5:31-32)

“I bear witness of myself.”  That would not stand up in any court.  Jesus will not attempt to be His own witness.

“There is another that beareth witness of me."  Scripture says that in the mouth of two or three witnesses a thing is established.  His witness will not be a human witness.

Ye sent unto John, and he bare witness unto the truth. (John 5:33)

He says here that John the Baptist bear witness of Him, and they new John.  But there is another witness, and He is not a human witness.  This witness along with John will make two witnesses for them to recognize.

But I receive not testimony from man: but these things I say, that ye might be saved. (John 5:34)

Jesus claims a higher witness than man.  If men had only listened when that witness spoke and said, “This is my beloved Son, with Him I am well pleased.”  If any man will listen to the word of God and believe on Jesus, he will 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. (John 5:35-36)

In referring to John the Baptist, He calls him a light.  In my mind, John was the lamp and Jesus was the light.  He is the Light of the World.

Jesus is calling attention here, to the miracles He performed.  They were His credentials to prove that He was who He said He was.  He didn’t only perform those miracles described in the Gospels, He performed thousands more.  He didn’t have an auditorium and He didn’t have people brought to him, and then take up an offering.  He went out into the highways and byways and He healed thousands.  No one ever doubted His miracles.  That had to wait 2000 years, and it took some liberal “theologians” to write that Jesus never did any miracles.  But that doesn’t mean a thing.  His miracles were his credentials and bear witness of Him.

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. (John 5:37-39)

“Search the scriptures.”  Jesus is not telling them to search the scriptures.  What He is telling them is that they search the scriptures believing that in them they will find eternal life.  They don’t understand that the scriptures testify of Jesus.  If you don’t find Jesus in the Bible, your search is in vane.

And ye will not come to me, that ye might have life. (John 5:40)

Remember, He is talking to the religious leaders.  They know the scriptures, but they will never be saved, because they are too proud to come to Him.  And that is one of the main reasons why people don’t come to him today.

I receive not honour from men.  But I know you, that ye have not the love of God in you. (John 5:41-42)

Those religious leaders did not like to hear that.  Jesus never pulled His punches.

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. (John 5:43)

Someday, the Antichrist is coming, and the world will receive Him.  They rejected Christ, when He came in His own name, preaching that He was the Son of God.  The Antichrist will come in his own name; will have an image of himself and they will accept him.

How can ye believe, which receive honour one of another, and seek not the honour that cometh from God only? (John 5:44)

This is still the problem today.  We want the applause and approval of others and so we are not working for the glory of God.  It happens even in good churches.  Jesus had the honor and approval of God.  We will receive His honor and approval if we love Him with all our heart, and all of our soul, and our entire mind, and if we also love our neighbors as ourselves.

Do not think that I will accuse you to the Father: there is one that accuseth you, even Moses, in whom ye trust.  For had ye believed Moses, ye would have believed me: for he wrote of me.   But if ye believe not his writings, how shall ye believe my words? (John 5:45-47)

I believe that we are at the end of one of the greatest chapters in the Bible.  Jesus healed a man beside a pool, and then He made many claims about Himself.  He is a wonderful Lord and Savior.

Jesus said that He would not accuse us to the Father; instead He is our advocate.  We pray in His name, because He died to pay the penalty for our sins.  He has placed His righteousness on us.  He has prepared a place for us to spend eternity.  I will say once again, He is a wonderful Lord and Savior.

When He said that Moses wrote of Him, He is calling attention to the Pentateuch, the books that Moses wrote.  Jesus is revealed in every book of the bible.  It is important that everyone have a good knowledge of the Old Testament.  So much of the New Testament is written from that standpoint; that you know about the Old Testament people and events that are referred to.  I have heard some preachers say that you can find Jesus on every page of the Old Testament.

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