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Jesus in Jerusalem
Summary —At Bethesda. The Man with the Infirmity Healed. The Jews Complain That the Sabbath Was Broken. The Jews Seek to Slay Jesus. He Rebukes Them. Predicts His Own Death and Resurrection. Also the Resurrection of All. The Testimony of John; of Moses.
1. There was a feast of the Jews. Probably the second passover attended by the Lord after his ministry began. Such is the view of Irenæus, Eusebius, Lightfoot, Neander, Gresswell, Andrews and Dr. Wm. Milligan.
7. I have no man, when the water is troubled, to put me into the pool. His answer reveals the ideas that prevailed. The water was agitated at intervals, probably by an intermittent spring, and they supposed that the first one to enter after would receive the benefit. Only one could be healed at a time. No doubt many were, even without a miracle. In nervous diseases, faith is the great healing power.
9. The man was made whole. Observe the process: (1) Christ addresses the man; (2) he commands; (3) the man obeys. It is the obedience of faith. (4) In the act of obedience he is healed. Christ is the healer, but he is healed by the obedience of faith.
10. The Jews therefore said unto him. “Therefore” points to the fact that he was carrying his bed on the Sabbath day. The term “the Jews” does not refer to the people, but to the authorities. John always uses it to signify, not the multitude, but the rulers. The man was officially stopped and questioned. The bearing of burdens on the Sabbath was forbidden, not only by Jewish tradition, but by the law. See Exod. 31:13; Jer. 17:21 and Neh. 13:15–19.
14. Sin no more, lest a worse thing come unto thee. His own sins, thirty-eight years before, had brought on this infirmity. What was their nature we are not informed, but we know that often our fleshly ills can thus be accounted for.
16. The Jews persecute Jesus. The word is literally rendered “pursued Jesus.” At once they hunted Jesus and attacked him. They did not at first seek to slay him. This is omitted in the Revision and does not appear in the old MSS. But the officials now come to Jesus to learn why he has done this act.
17. My Father worketh hitherto, and I work. The answer of Jesus to his accusers goes to the very root of the matter. The basis on which the Sabbath rested was that God had ceased his creative labors on the seventh day. Jesus shows that God's rest was not idleness. The Father had continued his works of love and mercy. He worked in these works right on till Jesus came; “now,” says the Son, “I work as my Father works. There is no suspension on the Sabbath of works of benevolence and mercy.” The Father's example is the pattern given to direct man.
18. Because he not only had broken the Sabbath. The Pharisees were horrified, not only at what they deemed the breaking of the Sabbath, but at the high ground on which the Lord placed his defence. But said also that God was his Father. This high claim seemed to them blasphemous.
19–21. Then answered Jesus. To their charge of blasphemy. He shows that there is the closest co-operation between the Father and Son. What the Father does the Son will do, even to the extent of giving life to the dead.
22, 23. That all men should honour the Son. Three “fors” occur in the 20th, 21st and 22d verses, all stating the exaltation given to the Son.
25–27. The dead shall hear the voice. Those spiritually dead, as well as those in their graves. They shall hear, and the Son will bestow upon them eternal life. For the Son hath, by the will of the Father, life in himself and can bestow it. He is also judge, because he is the Son of man, a judge who shares the nature of the judged.
28–31. Marvel not at this. That he should execute judgment. Those in the graves shall hear his voice and come forth to judgment; the good, to the resurrection of life; the evil, to the resurrection of damnation; the one to life eternal, the other class to condemnation. Can do nothing of myself. Apart from the Father.
33. Ye sent to John. See 1:19–38.
36–38. I have greater witness. His works given of the Father, the Father's voice at baptism, and the Scriptures, which are the Father's word. Have not his word abiding in you. If they had they would believe upon him of whom that word did speak.
39–41. Search the scriptures. Rather, as in the Revision, “Ye search the Scriptures” for eternal life. Yet they were full of testimony of Christ. Yet they turned away from him who is the life of whom their Scriptures spoke. I receive not honour from men. This perhaps is a reply to some expression of disapproval on their part.
45–47. There is one that accuseth you. Moses, whose testimony they failed to accept. If they rejected the testimony of Moses, whom they professed to reverence, how could they believe him of whom Moses spoke?
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