A FEAST OF THE JEWS: Another Passover (see note below),
since this was 4 months before harvest (Joh 4:35).
John lists all four Passovers in Jesus' ministry: Joh 2:13;
5:1; 6:4; 13:1. Proof of 3 1/2 year ministry.
"High on the hill of Zion the immaculately robed priests
observed the temple ritual, aloof and impersonal. In the shadows of its walls
the halt, the blind and the withered waited for the movement of the water" (MP
Jesus turns from temple to Bethesda. "The true scene of his
ministry was not among the subtle analysts of the Law but in the midst of
suffering humanity" (MP 89).
SHEEP GATE: The gate through which sheep for sacrifice
were brought into Jerusalem: Neh 3:1,32; 12:39. Thus related to
A POOL... BETHESDA: The "Virgin's Fountain" (Robinson,
Conder) -- in Kidron Valley, southeast of Temple Mount. Phenomena of a sudden
rushing of water on occasion. Some say that a spring in the temple-area drained
through underground strata to this fountain, and its water was sometimes
reddened by the blood of the sacrifices (Eusebius). See Isa 7:3 (cp with Isa
7:14 for name "virgin"!); Isa 22:9,11; 36:2 (WGos 139,142).
BETHESDA: Sig "house of mercy" or "house of
FIVE: Number of grace, restoration: Num 18:16; Gen
43:34; Lev 26:8. Note 5 titles (Isa 9:6; see vv 20-24n here) and 5 witnesses to
Christ (Joh 5:32-47).
Vv 3,4: Omitted in various versions, but supported by others.
Perhaps in these vv John [or a later editor?] describes the traditional belief
without expressing agreement with its superstitious rationale.
A GREAT NUMBER OF DISABLED PEOPLE: Notice: a GREAT
number, but only ONE was healed!
THE MOVING OF THE WATERS: Like the parting of the Red
V 4: Add "it was said" at beginning of verse
THE FIRST ONE INTO THE POOL: As at first Passover,
Israel was the first to step into the parted Red Sea, and they were
THIRTY-EIGHT YEARS: The time Israel wandered in the
wilderness (Num 14:33,34; Deu 2:14). This man's disabilities excluded him from
the congregation (Deu 23:1), like Israel was "excluded" during the 38
DO YOU WANT TO GET WELL?: 'Do you have the faith?' (cp
I HAVE NO ONE TO HELP ME: Cp Isa 59:16. Had the poor
man at last found the friend who would help him down into the healing
GET UP: "Rise!" (cp Mar 2:11). Resurrection is the key
(Joh 5:28,29). Christ strengthens our weaknesses: Heb 11:34; Phi 4:13; 2Co 12:9;
Psa 29:11; Rom 7:21-25.
SABBATH: Exo 12:34.
He listened to Christ, and not to the man-made traditions of
others. His bed had been a burden for 38 years, but it was certainly not a
burden on that glorious day!
WHO IS THIS FELLOW?: They conveniently ignore the
miracle that has been performed.
SLIPPED AWAY: "Ekneuo" = lit, to duck one's
SOMETHING WORSE: There is a worse consequence of sin
than 38 years of paralysis!
The healed man acted in good faith, wanting to show to his
fellow Jews this great man Jesus.
THESE THINGS: Plural: other similar deeds in
THE JEWS PERSECUTED HIM: A continuous verb, suggesting
an actual hearing or trial. Christ's first appearance before the
AV adds: "and sought to slay him", on good grounds (WGos 142).
Cp v 18. "In a sense the Redeemer gave his life that day in the porches of
Bethesda for the sake of paralyzed humanity" (DG, BM 91:11).
ALWAYS AT HIS WORK: Even on the Sabbath!
TRIED ALL THE HARDER TO KILL HIM: This resolve grows
more and more dominant: Joh 7:1,19,25; 8:37,40,59; 10:31; 11:50,53.
MAKING HIMSELF EQUAL WITH GOD: But, as Jesus says, the
Father is really greater: Joh 5:19,30; 10:29,33.
THE SON CAN DO NOTHING BY HIMSELF: Christ's power is
derived from God: Joh 17:4,6,26.
Vv 20-24: Christ appropriates to himself the 5 titles of Isa
9:6: "Wonderful" = "amazement" (v 20); "Counsellor" = the judgment of v 22;
"Mighty God" (El Gibbor) = "all may honor the Son" (v 23); "Everlasting father"
= "as they honor the Father" (v 23); "Prince of peace" = "from death to life" (v
The great miracles of Passover and Exodus, now to be
reproduced by Jesus -- who is "commissioned" or "sent" as was Moses.
THE FATHER... SHOWS: A Passover expression: the father
proclaims or sets forth to the children (Exo 13:8).
TO WHOM HE IS PLEASED TO GIVE IT: That is, of course,
to those who believe (Joh 5:24).
THE SON: Made by the Father the instrument of Divine
judgment: Joh 12:48-50.
THAT ALL MAY HONOR THE SON: By becoming his seed (Isa
53:10), his "sons" (Heb 2:12,13), and thus part of his Father's eternal family.
Thus Jesus = the "father" of the everlasting age, or "everlasting father" of Isa
HAS ETERNAL LIFE: But actual eternal life is not a
present possession: 1Jo 5:13r. See Lesson, Eternal life now?
HE HAS CROSSED OVER FROM DEATH TO LIFE: The impotent
AND HAS NOW COME: Thus this is a spiritual resurrection
(ie Eph 2:1; Rom 6:4) -- while the hour of actual resurrection has not yet come
(cp v 28) (CEph 49).
AUTHORITY TO JUDGE: Jesus has authority to judge (ie
Dan 7:13,14) -- not because he is divine (ie Son of God), but because he is
human (ie Son of man). (Cp Phi 2:5-11). Great reassurance in this! See Heb
DO NOT BE AMAZED AT THIS: Could ref to previous passage
rather than following one.
ALL: That is, all kinds (classes, or races) of men.
Examples of "all" prob meaning "without distinction" rather than "without
exception": Joh 1:7,9; 3:26; 8:2; 12:32; 13:35; Rom 10:13; 1Ti 2:1,2; 4:15;
5:20; 6:17; Heb 2:9.
GRAVES: "Mnemeion" = sepulchres, or marked graves. Not
all in "gehenna" or "hades", but all in the specially-marked graves! Thus, here,
all who are responsible by reason of knowledge (1Co 4:15; Act 24:14-21); and
further qualified by v 29: those who have done good and those who have done evil
(many who have lived have not had the knowledge nor opportunity to do
MY TESTIMONY IS NOT VALID: It may be true, of course,
but it is not legally acceptable -- as in a court of law.
Vv 32-47: Five witnesses to Christ: John the Baptist (vv
33-35), Christ's works (v 36), the word of the Father (vv 37,38), the Scriptures
(vv 39,40), and Moses (vv 45-47). (Just as Moses had five witnesses, the
A LAMP THAT BURNED: A lamp that shines, as Venus the
morning star, the forerunner of the sun. "Luchnos" = a temporary lamp, that
ceases when oil runs out. Ct Christ himself in Joh 8:12 (light of the world =
the sun). John had said, "He must increase; I must decrease" (Joh
FOR A TIME: Or "for an hour" (cp vv 25,28).
The works of Jesus were performed through the Holy Spirit that
came from his Father (Joh 5:19,30), and they bore witness to Jesus (Joh
8:17,18). He had received the Holy Spirit without measure (Joh 3:34; Mat 3:16;
FORM: "Eidos": appearance.
YOU DO NOT BELIEVE THE ONE HE SENT: The observance of
Christ's works could make men responsible to his judgment: Joh 15:24; Mat
This verse is often misquoted, and misapplied. It is not a
simple exhortation to "read the Bible"; for one thing, the Pharisees already did
this, regularly and diligently. Rather, Christ's words should be read as his
rebuke of the "Jews" -- as if to say: 'You search the Scriptures, because you
THINK you will find eternal life there. But you refuse to see that those same
Scriptures testify of me! And you do not come to me, that you might truly have
life.' "In other words, the Pharisees were avid Bible students, but with their
self-righteous attitudes and Bible trivia mentality, they had overlooked the
most important point of all -- their need for redemption through the coming
Messiah. Here in plain view of these Bible students was the culmination of
scores of Bible prophecy and yet this escaped the attention of their hardened
It is never enough to be knowledgeable in the Scriptures in a
theoretical sense. The study of God's Word must lead us to embrace Christ, with
our whole heart and mind. Knowledge by itself is sterile. But intimate, personal
experience of Christ brings about deep and lasting changes in our lives, and
leads on to the eternal life that may be possessed only through him.
"Jesus Christ is the Alpha and Omega of the Bible. He is the
constant theme of its sacred pages; from first to last they testify of him... we
catch a glimpse of him in the promise of the woman's seed; we see him typified
in the ark of Noah; we walk with Abraham, as he sees Messiah's day; we dwell in
the tents of Isaac and Jacob, feeding upon the gracious promise; we hear the
venerable Israel talking of Shiloh; and in the numerous types of the law, we
find the Redeemer abundantly foreshadowed. Prophets and kings, priests and
preachers, all look one way -- they all stand as the cherubs did over the ark,
desiring to look within, and to read the mystery of God's great propitiation.
Still more manifestly in the NT we find our Lord the one pervading subject. It
is not an ingot here and there, or dust of gold thinly scattered, but here you
stand upon a solid floor of gold; for the whole substance of the NT is Jesus
crucified, and even its closing sentence is bejewelled with the Redeemer's name.
We should always read Scripture in this light; we should consider the word to be
as a mirror into which Christ looks down from heaven; and then we, looking into
it, see his face reflected as in a glass -- darkly, it is true, but still in
such a way as to be a blessed preparation for seeing him as we shall see him
face to face. This volume contains Jesus Christ's letters to us, perfumed by his
love. These pages are the garments of our King, and they all smell of myrrh, and
aloes, and cassia. Scripture is the royal chariot in which Jesus rides, and it
is paved with love for the daughters of Jerusalem. The Scriptures are the
swaddling bands of the holy child Jesus; unroll them and you find your Saviour.
The quintessence of the word of God is Christ" (CHS).
I DO NOT ACCEPT PRAISE FROM MEN: A recognition,
already, that in the human sense his mission was "failing".
BUT I KNOW YOU: Cp Joh 5:10,12,16,18.
BUT IF SOMEONE ELSE COMES IN HIS OWN NAME: "It has been
estimated that in the century before 70 AD there were no less than 64 false
messiahs" (WGos 149).
HOW CAN YOU BELIEVE IF YOU ACCEPT PRAISE FROM ONE
ANOTHER?: "Christ taught here the alarming doctrine that the desire for
honor among men made belief impossible. Is this sin at the root of religious
unbelief? Could it be that those 'intellectual difficulties' which men blame for
their inability to believe are but smoke screens to conceal the real cause that
lies behind them? Was it this greedy desire for honor from man that made men
into Pharisees and Pharisees into [the crucifiers of Christ]? Is this the secret
back of religious self-righteousness and empty worship? I believe it may be. Who
will make the once-for-all decision to exalt Him over all? Such are these
precious to God above all treasures of earth or sea. In them God finds a theater
where He can display His exceeding kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. With them
God can walk unhindered, toward them He can act like the God He is"
Cp Moses, who witnessed to his own authority from God with a
shining face (Exo 34:29,30). Cp also Christ at transfiguration (Luk 9:29; cp Luk
22:43; Joh 18:6). Was there here, before the Council, a similar display of
glory? (WGos 147)