Greetings in Christ!
In John 3, Jesus ministered to a Jewish religious leader. At the beginning of John 4, Jesus ministered to a Gentile woman of ill repute. At the end of Chapter 4, He ministered to a nobleman. Here in Chapter 5, Jesus will heal a waif who is physically disabled. Whether you are rich or poor, healthy or bedridden, a pillar in your community, or a menace to society, Jesus is your Man. Despite whatever problems you may have, Jesus has the solutions. No matter how bad you may think you are, no matter how beyond help, Jesus can fix anything or anyone. Whatever you may have done, Jesus saves. Anyone. Who. Comes. To. Him.
Father, give us understanding as we read your precious word, in Jesus’ name. Amen.
1 After this there was a feast of the Jews [Pentecost?]; and Jesus went up to Jerusalem.
Jerusalem is south of Galilee, where Jesus was coming from, but in the Bible you always go up to Jerusalem. Jerusalem is built on a high plateau in the Judaean Mountains approximately 2490 feet above sea level. (Isa 2:3; Mic 4:2)
Some commentators reason that since Passover is in John 2 and 6, and the Feast of Tabernacles is in John 7, this feast must be Pentecost, accounting for all three of the major feasts in Judaism. For me, Pentecost seems to fit the narrative for another reason. We think of Pentecost as the day that the church was born, but to the people in our story, it was Shavuot, which eventually came to commemorate the giving of the Law on Mt Sinai.
2 Now there is at Jerusalem by the sheep market a pool, which is called in the Hebrew tongue Bethesda [lit house of mercy], having five porches.
The sheep market was by the sheep gate, where they would buy their sacrifices for the feast. I have often wondered how the pool could have five porches. It turns out, the Pool of Bethesda, which was discovered by archeologists in the late 19th century, was a long rectangular pool that had a porch through the middle, therefore one porch on each side plus one through the middle makes five. So, here in John 5, we have five porches. Nearby are the sheep for the sacrifices. This scenario is seething with the Law (which incidentally consists of five books), yet five is also the number of grace. The Law was necessary to prepare the world for the new covenant of grace (Rom 7), so in a roundabout way, grace is tied to the Law.
3 In these [five porches] lay a great multitude of impotent folk, of blind, halt, withered, waiting for the moving of the water.
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.
In some of the new versions of the Bible, the bolded portions of verses 3 and 4 above are called into question, but I have no doubt the passage is genuine. Otherwise, the rest of the narrative makes no sense (see v 7). (1) Admittedly, it is an odd passage, but then again, much of the Bible is odd. The Bible is filled with things that make no sense from a material perspective. As believers, we accept these things by faith. It has well been said, ‘It is not the things in the Bible that I don’t understand that bother me. It’s the things that I do understand’.
According to Pastor Jon Courson, the troubling of the water was caused by a natural spring that fed the pool. Courson draws this conclusion based on the Greek word for pool, kolumbertha, which means ‘a deep pool from underneath which comes bubbling’. Courson says that if the Bible had quotation marks, the words For an angel went down … and troubled the water would be in quotes. (2) Something to think about.
5 And a certain man was there, which had an infirmity thirty and eight years.
In the Law, it says the Jews wandered in the desert for 38 years. (Deut 2:14) Moses, who gave them the Law, could not bring them into the Promised Land. It was Joshua (Heb for Jesus) who led them in. This poor man has been in his sorry condition for 38 years as well. Can you imagine how he must have felt? Others in the crowd at least had friends and family to help them, but not him (v 7). He was all alone. Maybe we all feel this way sometimes. This was how the psalmist felt when he wrote Psalm 142: I looked on my right hand, and beheld, but there was no man that would know me: refuge failed me; no man cared for my soul.
The Law could not deliver the lame man. He thought he was all alone. But Jesus is the friend that sticketh closer than a brother. Jesus can help:
6 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?
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, another steppeth down before me.
8 Jesus saith unto him, Rise, take up thy bed, and walk.
9 And immediately the man was made whole, and took up his bed, and walked: and on the same day was the sabbath.
10 The Jews [the religious leaders] therefore said unto him that was cured, It is the sabbath day: it is not lawful for thee to carry thy bed.
Of course, there is nothing in the Law that says he could not carry his bed. However, some addenda were added over time. The Mishnah was written to codify the Law. The Talmud was written as a commentary on the Mishnah. So when you turned to the Mishnah which was combined with the commentary in the Talmud, there was page after page which attempted to interpret the ordinance of the sabbath. If you sprained your ankle on the sabbath, you were not allowed to pour cold water on it. A woman was not permitted to look at a mirror on the sabbath. She might be tempted to pull a gray hair, and that would be working on the sabbath. You were not allowed to wear a coat, because you might get hot and want to take it off and carry it over your arm, in which case you would be carrying a burden. If you tied a knot, you broke the sabbath, supposedly. Therefore, they were not happy the man was healed. They were unhappy that he broke their manmade code.
11 He answered them, He that made me whole, the same said unto me, Take up thy bed, and walk.
12 Then asked they him, What man is that which said unto thee, Take up thy bed, and walk?
If you were there, which question would you have asked? ‘Who made you whole?’ Or ‘Who said, Take up thy bed, and walk?’ Funny how they breezed right past the ‘made whole’ part and demanded to know who said he could carry his bed.
13 And he that was healed wist not who it was: for Jesus had conveyed himself away, a multitude being in that place.
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.
I love this. Jesus findeth him. Those who say modern versions are more accurate are just plain wrong; only the old English retains the conjugation of the Greek, hence findeth. This is literally what the Greek says — present tense, third person. The present tense places us right at the scene as if we are watching it happen. (Same with those ye’s and thee’s by the way. The generic ‘you’ does not accurately retain the meaning of the Greek. Ye is plural. Thee is singular. ‘You’ is used for the objective case, plural.) But that is not why I love this; I love this because Jesus went looking for him. He was not looking for Jesus as far as we know, but Jesus was looking for him. When Jesus found him, He did not say, You have completed the first step in my program. We will start working on the second step in your next session. The lame man was made whole, immediately! I realize that we are not delivered from all our problems the second we believe, but the solutions are in Jesus, the Word. It’s about laying hold of the promises in the Bible, trusting in the Bible, and looking to the Bible for answers. It’s not about dwelling on the past. Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. (2 Cor 5:17) I believe the reason Jesus found him is that He had an important message for him: sin no more, lest a worse thing come unto thee. (Matt 12:45; cf 2 Pet 2:21) Jesus made it clear that not all misfortunes are caused by someone’s personal sin. (Luke 13:1-5; cf John 9:1-3) Apparently, however, that was not the case with this man. Christianity is not a game. Once we are delivered from our sin through faith in Christ, returning to our old sin can put us in an even worse state than we were in before we believed. Jesus found him to warn him.
In closing, my takeaway from this week’s text is that the Law cannot save us, only the new covenant of grace can do that. When Moses gave the Law, 3000 died. When Peter preached on Pentecost, 3000 were saved. For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ. Jesus fulfilled the Law in his death and resurrection. The new covenant of grace is a treasure beyond compare. Woe to us if we take Jesus for granted and go back to our old sin.
Jesus will have some words for the religious leaders in next week’s post.
Father, light fires in our hearts, that we may know and believe what unspeakable treasures we have in your Son. He is altogether lovely, priceless beyond words; better than life … better than wine … better than gold, yea, than fine gold … a day in thy courts is better than a thousand. Draw us close to Him, in his holy and precious name, the name above all names. Amen.
Prophecy Update: Interview with Dr Sherri Tenpenney, coming mRNA genocide (Rev 6:8?; 16:2, 11?): https://banthis.tv/watch?id=60428ea73282f82eeac060b0
(1) In the 1800s, the school of higher criticism in Europe called many verses in the New Testament into question, because they were not found in a few books and manuscripts that had recently been discovered, most notably codexes Vaticanus and Sinaiticus. Ie, around the same time Sinaiticus was discovered, Vaticanus was allowed to be looked at. However, not only do these two codexes not agree with the vast majority of manuscript evidence for the New Testament, they do not even agree with each other. Codex Vaticanus violates Jesus’ command in Revelation 22:19 by removing the Book of Revelation. Codex Sinaiticus violates Jesus’ command in Revelation 22:18 by adding the Shepherd of Hermas. There are many variants in these two books from the Textus Receptus, Latin for the Received Text. The Received Text is also called the Majority Text because the majority of manuscripts are in agreement with it. The Majority Text is what the church has accepted throughout history. Vaticanus and Sinaiticus were never regarded as important by the church until the late 1800s. Today, however, it is very common to hear a preacher say, ‘the best manuscripts do not have this verse’, or ‘in the original Greek, this verse really says …’ The plain truth of the matter is that the few manuscripts with readings that vary from the Majority Text are not the ‘best manuscripts’, they are the worst manuscripts. They are not the ‘original Greek’; they are corrupted Greek texts. Yet, our faith in the word of God is not based solely on manuscript evidence, majority or otherwise. We have lots of other reasons for trusting the word of God as authentic, manuscript evidence or not. For example, half of 1 John 2:23 is in italics in the KJV, because the translators did not have manuscript evidence for it. They included the entire verse because they felt it belonged there. If you look in the NASB, however, the second half of 1 John 2:23 is no longer in italics, because the manuscript evidence for it was eventually found.
The John 5:3b, 4 passage appears in Codex Alexandrinus, C-3, E, F, G, H, K, L, M, (S), U, V, X-Comm, Gamma, Delta, Theta, Lambda, Psi, 047, 063, 078. It also appears in cursive manuscripts, in the Syriac Peshitta, and the Old Latin, which predates the Vulgate. (Dr Jack Mooman, Early Manuscripts and the Authorized Version, p 102)
We also have the writings of the so-called church fathers, which cite disputed verses as authentic. According to the index of A Select Library of Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, no citation of John 5 omitted the disputed passage until after 400 AD. (Dr Jack Moorman, Early Church Fathers and the Authorized Version, p 48)
(2) Jon Courson, Tree of Life Bible Commentary John 1-6, p 130.