John 5 Focus: Jesus fulfills and is Lord of the SABBATH.
JOHN 5: Insights, Highlights and Points to Ponder:
- In order to grasp the full meaning of John 5, let us journey to Mount Sinai with Moses as recorded in Exodus 20: 8“Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. 9 Six days you shall labor, and do all your work, 10 but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, you, or your son, or your daughter, your male servant, or your female servant, or your livestock, or the sojourner who is within your gates. 11 For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.
- Mark 2 tells us how Jesus fulfills and redefines the Sabbath? (also compare Matthew 12 & Luke 6) Mark 2:23 One Sabbath he was going through the grainfields, and as they made their way, his disciples began to pluck heads of grain. 24 And the Pharisees were saying to him, “Look, why are they doing what is not lawful on the Sabbath?” 25 And he said to them, “Have you never read what David did, when he was in need and was hungry, he and those who were with him: 26 how he entered the house of God, in the time of[d] Abiathar the high priest, and ate the bread of the Presence, which it is not lawful for any but the priests to eat, and also gave it to those who were with him?” 27 And he said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. 28 So the Son of Man is lord even of the Sabbath.”
- We ponder the Third Commandment in The Small Catechism
Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. What does this mean? We should fear and love God so that we do not despise preaching and His Word, but hold it sacred and gladly hear and learn it.
We now read: John 5 (interspersed with commentary and insights)
The Healing at the Pool of Bethesda on the Sabbath
5:1 After this there was a feast of the Jews, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. 2 Now there is in Jerusalem by the Sheep Gate a pool, in Aramaic called Bethesda, which has five roofed colonnades. 3 In these lay a multitude of invalids—blind, lame, and paralyzed. 5 One man was there who had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. 6 When Jesus saw him lying there and knew that he had already been there a long time, he said to him, “Do you want to be healed?” 7 The sick man answered him, “Sir, I have no one to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up, and while I am going another steps down before me.” 8 Jesus said to him, “Get up, take up your bed, and walk.” 9 And at once the man was healed, and he took up his bed and walked.
NOTE: The ruins of the Pool of Bethesda in Jerusalem are in the Old City next to the Church of St. Ann (dedicated to the Mother of Mary). I have visited this site twice with groups, and the ruins are very impressive. The Romans did not completely destroy the Pool of Bethesda in 70AD. The grounds of the ruins do not have much water in them today, but you can see columns, buildings and deep pools that were built during Jesus’ days and different periods of history (such as the time of the Crusaders).
Bethesda is usually translated “House of mercy.” The lame and sick in the days of Jesus viewed the Pool of Bethesda as having therapeutic, medicinal, and even miraculous powers to heal. The waters were “stirred” by active springs.
IMPORTANT: Note that the Pool known for its supposed healing powers had NOTHING to do with the healing of the man who had been an invalid 38 years. The lame man was solely and completely healed by the powerful word of Jesus. And Jesus healed the man on the Sabbath (uh-oh!! The Jewish leaders become angry at Jesus!). This is the THIRD of Jesus’ seven signs highlighted in the Gospel of John.
Now that day was the Sabbath. 10 So the Jews said to the man who had been healed, “It is the Sabbath, and it is not lawful for you to take up your bed.” 11 But he answered them, “The man who healed me, that man said to me, ‘Take up your bed, and walk.’” 12 They asked him, “Who is the man who said to you, ‘Take up your bed and walk’?” 13 Now the man who had been healed did not know who it was, for Jesus had withdrawn, as there was a crowd in the place. 14 Afterward Jesus found him in the temple and said to him, “See, you are well! Sin no more, that nothing worse may happen to you.” 15 The man went away and told the Jews that it was Jesus who had healed him. 16 And this was why the Jews were persecuting Jesus, because he was doing these things on the Sabbath. 17 But Jesus answered them, “My Father is working until now, and I am working.”
NOTE: Jesus healed on the Sabbath. This was a big taboo to the Jewish leaders. In fact, they viewed it as severely violating God’s Word. One of the primary rules in Judaism STILL TO THIS DAY is that Jews are not allowed to perform ANY work on the Sabbath.
It was fascinating being in Jerusalem March 2019 on a Friday night. EVERYTHING shuts down in Israel on Fridays at sunset when the Sabbath Day begins. NO work is permitted (except apparently to prepare massive amounts of amazing food!). Families gather and celebrate. Every Sabbath is like a mini-Thanksgiving feast with family. We were staying at the big Hotel Dan. All the hotels in Israel even have a “SABBATH ELEVATOR” that automatically stops at EVERY floor--this is so an observant Jew does NOT have to push a button--which would be considered a violation of the Sabbath! This is a prime example of how any human religion can become based on works righteousness in their attempt to please God--and NOT on grace.
Even though Jesus performed a positive, incredible miracle in John 5 , the religious leaders could only focus on the fact that it happened in violation of “working” on the Sabbath. Their hard hearts failed to let them see Jesus as the Savior from sickness, sin, and the Lord of the Sabbath who is equal with God. In response, their opposition and desire to persecute and kill Jesus grew stronger.
Jesus Is Equal with God
18 This was why the Jews were seeking all the more to kill him, because not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God.
The Authority of the Son
19 So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of his own accord, but only what he sees the Father doing. For whatever the Father does, that the Son does likewise. 20 For the Father loves the Son and shows him all that he himself is doing. And greater works than these will he show him, so that you may marvel. 21 For as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, so also the Son gives life to whom he will. 22 For the Father judges no one, but has given all judgment to the Son, 23 that all may honor the Son, just as they honor the Father. Whoever does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent him. 24 Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life.
25 “Truly, truly, I say to you, an hour is coming, and is now here, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live. 26 For as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son also to have life in himself. 27 And he has given him authority to execute judgment, because he is the Son of Man. 28 Do not marvel at this, for an hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear his voice 29 and come out, those who have done good to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil to the resurrection of judgment.
Witnesses to Jesus
30 “I can do nothing on my own. As I hear, I judge, and my judgment is just, because I seek not my own will but the will of him who sent me. 31 If I alone bear witness about myself, my testimony is not true. 32 There is another who bears witness about me, and I know that the testimony that he bears about me is true. 33 You sent to John, and he has borne witness to the truth. 34 Not that the testimony that I receive is from man, but I say these things so that you may be saved. 35 He was a burning and shining lamp, and you were willing to rejoice for a while in his light. 36 But the testimony that I have is greater than that of John. For the works that the Father has given me to accomplish, the very works that I am doing, bear witness about me that the Father has sent me. 37 And the Father who sent me has himself borne witness about me. His voice you have never heard, his form you have never seen, 38 and you do not have his word abiding in you, for you do not believe the one whom he has sent. 39 You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me, 40 yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life. 41 I do not receive glory from people. 42 But I know that you do not have the love of God within you. 43 I have come in my Father's name, and you do not receive me. If another comes in his own name, you will receive him. 44 How can you believe, when you receive glory from one another and do not seek the glory that comes from the only God? 45 Do not think that I will accuse you to the Father. There is one who accuses you: Moses, on whom you have set your hope. 46 For if you believed Moses, you would believe me; for he wrote of me. 47 But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe my words?”
NOTE: Everything Jesus says and does in John 5 bear witness that Jesus IS the One the Father sent to fulfill His plan of salvation for us! We marvel again at this fact: When we see or hear Jesus, we see and hear God in person in action to save us from sin and death!
+ PRAYER: Dear Jesus, You are the Lord of the Sabbath. Through Your rest in the tomb and glorious Resurrection, You give us victory over sin and death. You fulfilled God’s Sabbath and bless us with perfect peace and spiritual rest. Thank You, Jesus. Amen.
Pastor Scott Schmieding