John 5:1-13

Henry Mahan

(Vs. 1) Some believe this feast was the feast of the Passover, while some believe that it was the feast of Pentecost. We are not told which one it was; but our Lord went to Jerusalem for the feast to show His obedience to the law, which He came to fulfill (Deut. 16:16).

(Vs. 2) We read in Nehemiah 3 of the ten gates in the walls of Jerusalem–the sheep, fish, old, valley, dung, fountain, water, horse, east, and Miphkad gates! This sheep gate was the gate through which the sacrificial animals were brought to the temple. All are meaningful as types; but the sheep gate points to Christ, the sacrificial Lamb of God. There was a pool of water called the Pool of Bethesda near this gate. Some call it the "pool of mercy." There were five porches around the pool.

(Vs. 3-4) On these porches lay a great number of diseased, crippled, blind, and impotent people waiting for the moving of the water; for we read in Verse Four that at a certain season an angel went down and troubled the water, and whosoever then first stepped into the water after it was troubled was completely healed of whatever disease he had. The question will certainly be asked, "Did this really happen or was it a superstition?" I believe it best to leave it as the Scripture states it. While there is no mention in the Old Testament of this troubling of the water, John simply states it as a fact, not a saying or a superstition.

(Vs. 5) A certain man was there who had a disease for 38 years. We are not told what it was; but we know that he was on a bed and evidently was quite helpless, for he needed the help of someone else to get to the water. Perhaps he had tried all other human means (like the woman with the issue of blood) to no avail and had come to the waters of Bethesda as a last resort.

(Vs. 6) The Master saw HIM. Here is the sovereignty of our Lord in showing mercy to whom He will (Exo. 33:18-19). There was a multitude of sick people there, yet Christ looked only upon this man. He knew him and all about him (John 10:14-16). We are not told that he saw the Lord, or knew Him, or called to Him, but that our Lord SAW him, KNEW him, and CALLED to him. The Saviour said, "Will you be made whole?" Of course he would; that is why he was there. But the question is asked to focus the man's attention on his NEED, on his TOTAL INABILITY, and on the SAVIOUR Who addressed him! Are not these the three important things in the Spirit bringing a sinner to salvation? –our great need, our hopeless state, and the power and presence of the only One Who can help us!

(Vs. 7) The man did not know who Christ was, nor did he have any idea of His power to heal; so he answered as all impotent, helpless people must answer, "There is no one to help." Also, he shows the greed and selfishness of all natural men, "While I am struggling to crawl to the water, another steps in before me."

(Vs. 8) The Lord Jesus, according to His own will, in fulfillment of His own Divine purpose, said to this certain man, "Rise, take up your bed, and walk!"

(Vs. 9) "AND IMMEDIATELY HE WAS MADE WHOLE." The Lord's salvation is both INSTANTANEOUS and COMPLETE (Col. 2:9-10). Christ does not put the believing sinner into a savable state. He saves with a perfect and eternal salvation the moment we truly believe (Eccles. 3:14). The Saviour spoke, and by His Word the lame walked. It was the Sabbath day and unlawful to do work or carry burdens (Jer. 17:21). But our Lord is the Lord of the Sabbath (Matt. 12:1-8).

(Vs. 10) The Jews were more concerned for their traditions and religious customs than for the fact that a great miracle had been performed. Blinded by their self-righteousness and works, they had no compassion for the man who was healed, no interest in the grace of God which healed him, and made no inquiry into HOW he was healed nor WHO healed him. At all costs, their traditions must be upheld (Matt. 15:1-3, 8-14).

(Vs. 11) The man believed that the one who healed him was a prophet of God who did what he did by Divine authority; therefore, he obeyed Him contrary to their traditions (Gal. 5:1-4).

(Vs. 12-13) When they asked him who the man was who told him to take up his bed on the Sabbath day and walk, he was unable to tell them; for he did not know. The Lord had disappeared in the crowd.

Henry Mahan
Ashland, Ky.