What does it say?
John 5 centers on the third of the seven miracles recorded in John. Going to Jerusalem for the feasts, Jesus visits the pool of Bethesda by the sheep market where people seeking healing would gather. Of the multitude gathered there, Jesus chose to heal a man that had been ill for 38 years.
The Jews attack Jesus for healing on the Sabbath and for saying that God was his Father, making himself equal to God. Exactly! Just in this chapter alone Jesus claims knowledge of God’s mission (5:20), divine authority for all his words and deeds (5:19, 30), power to give eternal life (5:21, 24, 40) and authority to judge the living and dead (5:25-29).
Only a maniac or someone truly evil would make such claims if not true. As evidence Jesus offers John’s witness upon his baptism (5:33-35), the miracles he performs (5:36) God’s witness from heaven upon his baptism by John (5:37) and the words of scripture (5:39).
What does it mean?
This third miracle illustrates that salvation is by grace alone. Of all the sick people gathered at the Bethesda pool, Jesus picks this one man, who has done nothing to deserve it or even to attract Jesus’ attention.
Jesus is totally respectful of the Law God delivered to Moses. He keeps the Sabbath principle during his time on earth. What he does, however, is to occasionally violate the petty restrictions that the religious leaders have added; restrictions that often hinder God’s mission rather than advance it.
One of the main points of John’s emphasis is to clearly establish the deity of Jesus Christ. This chapter is a key focal point of the evidence that Jesus himself presents to prove that he is who he claims to be.
How will I respond?
What are some of the things that disturb or frustrate me about other believers or church in general? Could it be that I am missing the point and emphasizing traditions more than the spirit and principle of biblical teaching? Am I willing to turn loose of some of my preferences in order to better advance God’s mission?