Week 35 | Section 49a,b | Phase 4

Summary: Today’s study demonstrates the mercy of God through Jesus’s healing of a man lying beside the pool of Bethesda. The man who had been sick for thirty-eight years became well in an instant.  In his response to the Jewish elders who questioned his labor on the Sabbath, Jesus gave the response that most certainly caught their attention, inasmuch as he claimed he and God the Father were equal. Now that certainly raises two most fascinating questions for today’s disciple: ‘Do you want to be well?’ and ‘Will you honor him as the Lord?’

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Today’s Gospel Reading

(There is no record from Matthew, Mark or Luke)

John 5:1-9; 10-18
1 After these things[i], there was a feast[ii] of the Jews, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. 2 Now in Jerusalem by the sheep gate[iii], there is a pool, which is called in Hebrew, “Bethesda”[iv], having five porches. 3 In these lay a great multitude of those who were sick, blind, lame, or paralyzed, waiting for the moving of the water; 4 for an angel went down at certain times into the pool, and stirred up the water[v]. Whoever stepped in first after the stirring of the water was healed of whatever disease he had. 5 A certain man was there, who had been sick for thirty-eight years. 6 When Jesus saw him lying there, and knew[vi] that he had been sick for a long time, he asked him, “Do you want[vii] to be made well?” 7 The sick man answered him, “Sir, I have no one to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up, but while I’m coming, another steps down before me.” 8 Jesus said to him, “Arise, take up your mat, and walk.”[viii] 9 Immediately, the man was made well, and took up his mat and walked. Now it was the Sabbath on that day. 10 So the Jews said to him who was cured, “It is the Sabbath. It is not lawful for you to carry the mat.”[ix] 11 He answered them, “He who made me well, the same said to me, ‘Take up your mat, and walk.’” 12 Then they asked him, “Who is the man who said to you, ‘Take up your mat, and walk’?”[x] 13 But he who was healed didn’t know who it was, for Jesus had withdrawn, a crowd being in the place. 14 Afterward Jesus found him in the temple, and said to him, “Behold, you are made well. Sin no more, so that nothing worse happens to you.”[xi] 15 The man went away, and told the Jews that it was Jesus who had made him well. 16 For this cause the Jews persecuted Jesus, and sought to kill him, because he did these things on the Sabbath. 17 But Jesus answered them, “My Father is still working, so I am working, too.”[xii]

[i] After this – Jesus had been in the region of Galilee and had passed through Samaria into Judea. It was back in section 32 (Week 21, Phase 2) that Jesus was last in Jerusalem for the Passover feast (John 2:23).  This section marks the beginning of Phase 4. 80% of the verse of Jesus’ life and ministry have yet to be explored in the Harmony of the Gospels. Phase 4 is time of ministry development.  In this time phase he will name a few of his disciples to become Apostles, overseers of the ministry. See Field Guide for ministry Discernment and Discipleship, by Greg Troxell.

[ii] This feast was probably that of Passover feast but may have been the Feast of Tabernacles (in memory of the period of wandering Lev 23:33). Either case the law obliged all the males to appear there.  John does make an effort to anchor his Gospel in the context of the Passover feasts.

[iii] Sheep gate – during this time the sheep and oxen that were sold in the temple were brought through the sheep gate (Nehemiah 3:1; 3:32; 12:39).

[iv] Bethesda – As translated in the Syriac, Arabic, and Persic versions to mean a “house of mercy, grace or goodness”. Sometimes confused with Bethsaida one of two cities/towns in Galilee.

[v] Tradition has it that many were healed here. Of angels Hebrews 1:14 says, “Are they not all ministering spirits sent forth to minister for those who will inherit salvation? See other thoughts on Angels.

[vi] Foreknowledge or familiarity – The Vulgate Latin and Syriac versions specific a long time and the Arabic version says 38 years. Was it his intemperance that led to his condition? It does not say what sin but certainly some conditions are brought on by our emotional, mental and physical care or disregard.

[vii] Do you wish to be well? Jesus used this question as a manner to raise the man’s expectation of a cure.  The apostle James speaks to this attitude and says “you have not because you ask not” (James 4:2-3).

[viii] At his word – again and again

[ix] Duet law –

[x] Now they were concerned not only that this man was breaking the Sabbath but that someone told him to do so.

[xi] This is a common Jewish teaching and interesting that Jesus refers to it here. What reason might there be that sin would cause such an infirmity?

[xii] My father – the father and I are one, and I am the Lord of the Sabbath (Matthew 12:8). Gk. ergázomai work. We too have our work to do and that by the aid of the Holy Spirit working through us.

 


 

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