THE LIFE OF CHRIST
In our last lesson on the life of Christ, we looked at how Jesus healed a leper and a paralytic that was lowered down from the roof. Jesus called Matthew to follow Him and then Jesus and His disciples ate with Mathew and his fellow tax collector friends. We then talked about Jesus’s answer He gave when questioned about eating with sinners, and we looked at the three part parable that He used. As I do my best to keep the Life of Christ in chronological order, our lesson begins in:
John 5:1 After this there was a feast of the Jews, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem.
The Bible is always correct when it mentions elevations. For example, our text says Jesus went up to Jerusalem because it is at a higher elevation than Galilee. Jesus was going there to attend a feast. John records three Passovers in his Gospel (Jn 2:13; 6:4; 12:1), but in our immediate text, it does not tell us which feast this is. However, it is believed that it was the Passover feast. If this is the Passover feast, it shows that Jesus ministry lasted around 3 ˝ years, but if this was some other feast, then it makes His ministry less than 3 years. While we cannot determine if this was the Passover from our text, Daniel’s prophecy of the 70 weeks fits perfectly with Jesus’ ministry lasting 3 ˝ years.
Daniel 9:27 Then he shall confirm a covenant with many for one week; But in the middle of the week He shall bring an end to sacrifice and offering…
In the last week of Daniel’s prophecy, Jesus began His ministry, and each day represents one year. In the middle of that week is when Jesus died on the cross and took away animal sacrifices. Based on Daniel’s prophecy, this was the Passover Jesus was attending since it is necessary to establish His 3 ˝ year ministry. Daniel’s prophecy shows how important the Old Testament is for the Christian today because it allows us to have a deeper understanding of the New Testament.
John 5:2 Now there is in Jerusalem by the Sheep Gate a pool, which is called in Hebrew, Bethesda, having five porches. 3 In these lay a great multitude of sick people, blind, lame, paralyzed, waiting for the moving of the water. 4 For an angel went down at a certain time into the pool and stirred up the water; then whoever stepped in first, after the stirring of the water, was made well of whatever disease he had.
Some believe the sheep gate is where they kept the sheep to be slaughtered in the temple. The pool near there was called Bethesda, which means “house of mercy”. These five porches were covered areas the people used to get out of the rain or the sun. Archeologists have found two pools in this area. One is 55 feet long; the other is 65 feet long. The shorter one is the one they believe is Bethesda because it had 5 arches over it with a porch beneath (Nelson Illustrated Bible Dictionary p. 180).
A great number of people who were suffering from various illnesses gathered at this place hoping they may be healed by the water. Scholars are divided on whether there is enough evidence from the early Greek manuscripts to include verse 4, which is why some translations leave it out. No matter what view a person takes on verse 4, it explains why these people were gathering around this pool.
The real question is, did this pool have a supernatural ability to heal or is this simply a statement of what the people thought the pool did? I believe it was not a supernatural experience because of several reasons:
1. It does not make sense that God would have an angel stir up a body of water and then only allow the first person that reaches the water to be healed.
2. It is possible that a natural spring fed this pool, which would cause the water to bubble up or move around from time to time, which could easily be confused with an angel stirring the water.
3. Soon, Jesus is going to heal this man with His word, which proves the true source of healing comes from Jesus.
4. It is possible this pool of water had a lot of minerals in it, which are known to make people feel better. This phenomenon would add credence to its healing ability.
Some believe this was a supernatural event mainly because these sick people were gathering around this pool. The only early writer I could find that had anything to say about this event was Tertullian who wrote around A.D. 197:
The Law and the Prophets were until John,” and the fish pool of Bethesda was until the coming of Christ. Thereafter, it ceased curatively to remove infirmities of health from Israel (3.171).
An angel, by his intervention, used to stir the pool at Bethesda. Those who were complaining of poor heath used to watch for him. For whoever was the first to descend into the pool, ceased to complain after his washing. The figure of physical healing foreshadowed a spiritual healing (3.671, 672).
So, Tertullian thought this was a supernatural event that ceased after the coming of Christ.
John 5:5 Now a certain man was there who had an infirmity thirty-eight years. 6 When Jesus saw him lying there, and knew that he already had been in that condition a long time, He said to him, "Do you want to be made well?" 7 The sick man answered Him, "Sir, I have no man to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up; but while I am coming, another steps down before me."
This man had his sickness for 38 years. We are not told the extent of his illness, but apparently he was crippled and could not walk. After 38 years, we can only imagine how much this man would love to be healed. Jesus saw this poor man lying on his bed and He knew he had been sick for a long a time and desired to be healed. Jesus knows everything about our lives as well. Jesus had compassion for this man and asked him, “Do you want to be made well?” This might seem like a strange question to ask someone who has suffered so long, but Jesus wants him to express his desire to be healed.
When this man answered Jesus, he expressed his desire to be healed. However, he did not think it would ever happen because his condition made it impossible for him to get into the water first, and he did not have anyone to help him. If this man had known who he was talking to, he would not worry about the pool anymore.
John 5:8 Jesus said to him, "Rise, take up your bed and walk." 9 And immediately the man was made well, took up his bed, and walked. And that day was the Sabbath.
Without hesitation Jesus says, “Rise, take up your bed and walk.” Imagine how this man must have felt when Jesus spoke these simple words and immediately his illness that plagued him for 38 years was gone, and now he is able to walk and carry the bed he was restricted to?
When we look at the miracles of Jesus, we will notice how they differ from the modern day miracle workers. Jesus miracles were instantaneous and there was no doubt that a miracle was done. The supposed miracles that are done today are not verifiable, and they never seem to be able to catch them on video. I searched diligently for several months trying to find a miracle on video that could not be denied such as a withered hand becoming whole, but one does not exist. The supposed miracles that are done today have already happened by the time they get on the stage and it is always something internal. There was one woman who was legally blind who got caught up in the hype of one of Benny Hinn’s crusades. They brought her up on stage where the bright spotlights were shinning in her face and she was asked if she could see anything. She said she could see, but all she saw was some of that bright light which she could already see, so they deemed it a miracle. When the healing service was over, the woman had to be led out because she still could not see.
Some other preachers and I decided to go to a healing service just about a mile from here to see if there were any miracles happening. The preacher was preaching about the serpent on Moses staff and the band got louder and louder. He then proceeded to ask people that wanted to be healed to come forward. Several went to the front. One man in a wheelchair that could not stand was rolled up to the front and they prayed and prayed some more while touching him, yet his condition did not change and he could not stand. Another woman who suffered from Lupus went up and was touched and said she was healed, but when she came and sit back down, we asked her if she felt like she had been healed. Her answer was no.
Do you see the difference? If Jesus or one of His apostles had been there, these people would have been healed instantly. The man in the wheelchair would have stood up and walked in front of everyone proving that miracles are alive and well today, but that did not happen because miracles ceased sometime around the first century as 1 Corithians 13:8-10 teaches:
1 Corinthians 13:8 Love never fails. But whether there are prophecies, they will fail; whether there are tongues, they will cease; whether there is knowledge, it will vanish away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part. 10 But when that which is perfect has come, then that which is in part will be done away.
Paul mentions 3 of the miraculous abilities among many that were available at the time. He mentions prophecy, speaking in tongues, and miraculous knowledge. These three represent all the miraculous abilities in general, but notice they will fail, cease and vanish away. In verse 9, Paul is saying that right now they know in part and prophecy in part. The reason he said this is because these apostles did not receive everything at once. They received their revelations in part. According to verse 10, when all those parts were finally revealed then the perfect would come. Now this word perfect means complete and is not a reference to Jesus. It is referring to the completed revelation of God’s Word. Once God’s Word was fully revealed and confirmed by miracles, the miraculous would cease. Once these miracles were gone, Paul says:
1 Corinthians 13:13 And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.
Since the Word of God has already been fully revealed there is no purpose for miracles today, which is why they have ceased. So no one can work miracles today. Much more could be said about this topic, but let’s move on to:
John 5:10 The Jews therefore said to him who was cured, "It is the Sabbath; it is not lawful for you to carry your bed." 11 He answered them, "He who made me well said to me, 'Take up your bed and walk.' " 12 Then they asked him, "Who is the Man who said to you, 'Take up your bed and walk'?" 13 But the one who was healed did not know who it was, for Jesus had withdrawn, a multitude being in that place.
Many Jews had taken the Sabbath Law beyond what it was supposed to be, and they added all kinds of restrictions based on their own traditions and opinions. They noticed this man carrying his bed and they immediately point out that he should not be carrying it because it would be considered as carrying a burden (Jer. 17:19-27). However, when we examine this text and consider Nehemiah 13:15, we learn that a person was not supposed to be carrying things around that he was going to use for trade or for his business. So to carry something out of necessity or do something good on the Sabbath was allowed as Jesus pointed out in:
Luke 13:15 The Lord then answered him and said, "Hypocrite! Does not each one of you on the Sabbath loose his ox or donkey from the stall, and lead it away to water it?
So, this man was not violating the Sabbath Law by picking up his bed a carrying it.
Instead of being surprised by this man being healed, all they could think about was who told this man to “Take up your bed and walk.” This man did not know who it was. Notice that this miracle did not require faith in Jesus ability to heal. This is another proof text that goes against the modern day miracle worker who says that one must believe to be healed. Many times when these alleged miracle workers fail to heal someone, they will say that person did not have enough faith.
John 5:14 Afterward Jesus found him in the temple, and said to him, "See, you have been made well. Sin no more, lest a worse thing come upon you."
For 38 years this man was not allowed into the temple because of his illness, so it should not surprise us that Jesus found him in the temple. When Jesus finds him, He gives him some good advice, “Sin no more,” which implies that his illness was caused by sin. While this is not always the case, we have many instances in the Bible where sin caused the illness, and sin can cause illness today because of its consequences. For instance, if a person commits the sin of fornication, he can end up with aids or some other sexually transmitted disease. If a person continues to abuse his body with alcohol or other harmful substances, his body will be damaged, which can lead to all kinds of internal illnesses. Paul explains this idea well in:
Galatians 6:7 Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. 8 For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life.
John 5:15 The man departed and told the Jews that it was Jesus who had made him well. 16 For this reason the Jews persecuted Jesus, and sought to kill Him, because He had done these things on the Sabbath.
When this man found out Jesus was the one who healed him, he told the Jews who He was. We are not told why he did this, but some have suggested he did it so he would not be held accountable for breaking the Sabbath in the eyes of these Jews. Once they knew who it was that healed him, they tracked Him down and wanted to kill Him because they felt like He had broken the Sabbath Law. However, this was their interpretation of the law because Jesus did not violate the Sabbath.
John 5:17 But Jesus answered them, "My Father has been working until now, and I have been working." 18 Therefore the Jews sought all the more to kill Him, because He not only broke the Sabbath, but also said that God was His Father, making Himself equal with God.
Jesus argued that His Father has been working all the time including the Sabbath. Just as the Father continues to work and do good; Jesus is also working and doing good even on the Sabbath. Since He worked a miracle on that day, it should have proven to these Jews that He was the Son of God and what He did was acceptable to God. Instead, Jesus’ statement makes the Jews furious because in their eyes Jesus has broken the Sabbath and has made Himself equal to God. This is another instance where Jesus makes the claim that He is the Son of God, and He will make this statement even clearer later. Of course there are other verses that teach us that Jesus is the Son of God as well (Jn. 1:1-4; 10:30-33; Phil. 2:5-6). The remainder of this chapter contains Jesus’ testimony of who He is.
John 5:19 Then Jesus answered and said to them, "Most assuredly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He sees the Father do; for whatever He does, the Son also does in like manner.
Jesus tells these Jews that He could not have healed this man on the Sabbath unless God allowed it to happen. He is also teaching us about His close relationship with the Father because He is able to observe the supernatural abilities of the Father and has an open line of communication with Him. Healing this man was what the Father wanted to happen. So, if they are going to accuse Jesus of breaking the Sabbath, they are going to have to accuse the Father as well.
John 5:20 "For the Father loves the Son, and shows Him all things that He Himself does; and He will show Him greater works than these, that you may marvel. 21 "For as the Father raises the dead and gives life to them, even so the Son gives life to whom He will.
Jesus stresses His relationship with the Father. The Father loves Him, and Jesus has full access to the works of the Father. No other prophets or apostles had such insight because they only received their information in part, but Jesus could see all and know all that was being done by the Father, which proves His Deity and that He is the Son of God. He then tells these Jews that this miracle is only the beginning because greater works than these will be done in the future such as raising Lazarus and the widow’s son from the dead.
John 5:22 "For the Father judges no one, but has committed all judgment to the Son, 23 "that all should honor the Son just as they honor the Father. He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent Him.
The Father has put Jesus in the position of being the judge of humankind. This fact is seen in several passages such as:
Matthew 25:31 " When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory. 32 "All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats.
Acts 10:42 "And He commanded us to preach to the people, and to testify that it is He who was ordained by God to be Judge of the living and the dead.
Acts 17:30 "Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent, 31 "because He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained. He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead." See also (Rom. 2:16; 2 Cor. 5:10; 2 Tim. 4:1, 8).
The Father made Jesus our judge so that everyone would honor and respect Him just as they honor and respect the Father. If we disrespect the Son then we disrespect the Father, which is why Jesus could say that we only have access to the Father through Him (Jn. 14:6). Since Jesus is representing the Father, all will learn to respect Him; if not in this life, they will at the judgment day.
John 5:24 " Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life.
Jesus is not saying that all a person has to do is hear and believe to have everlasting life. James makes this clear in:
James 1:22 But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. 23 For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror; 24 for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was. 25 But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does.
James 2:24 You see then that a man is justified by works, and not by faith only.
Hearing the words of Jesus requires us to be doers of His word. Jesus teaches us that believing in God the Father is not enough to have eternal life because we must also hear and accept the words of Jesus, which means everyone that only believes in the Father will be lost. However, those who are willing to believe in Jesus and obey the Word of God will not face the judgment of hell.
When we become Christians and remain faithful, there is no condemnation for us. As Paul said in:
Romans 8:1 There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.
What Paul is saying here is exactly what John meant when he wrote that we will not come into judgment. However, we will all still stand before the judgment seat of Christ according to:
2 Corinthians 5:10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.
When we become a Christian, we pass from spiritual death to being spiritually alive in Christ, which shows that we have salvation right now, and we should be confident that we do. However, we can fall from our salvation if we live in sin, but if we continue to be faithful to God till the day we die, we are promised everlasting life in heaven (Rev. 2:10).
It makes me sad when I hear Christians express doubt in their salvation. Some of them think they are never good enough no matter how faithful they are to God. It is true that none of us are good enough by ourselves to earn or even deserve eternal life in heaven, but with God all things are possible. He loved us so much that He allowed Jesus to come to this earth and do all the wonderful things that we read about in our Bibles. If we truly trust in God and believe what His Word says, then we should not doubt our salvation if we are living our lives according to His Word. Obviously, if we are living in sin, then we should doubt our salvation, but for the rest of us that are fighting the good fight of faith, we should live each day of lives confidence of what Jesus did for us knowing that He has paid our debt in full. Therefore, we can know that our home will be in heaven.