John chapter 5 starts out with the introduction of the Pool of Bethesda. Interestingly enough, archeologists have discovered this pool and you can read about it and view a photo of it at this link: https://www.biblicalarchaeology.org/daily/biblical-sites-places/jerusalem/the-bethesda-pool-site-of-one-of-jesus-miracles/
What struck me about the Pool of Bethesda is that John records that an angel of the Lord went down into the pool at appointed seasons and stirred up the water, the first one to go in after the water was stirred was healed of his disease (John 5:4).
It’s also interesting to note that this visitation of an angel of the Lord took place during the intertestamental period which is a term for the gap of time between the period covered by the Hebrew Bible and the period covered by the Christian New Testament. Traditionally, it is considered to cover roughly four hundred years, spanning the ministry of Malachi (c. 420 BC) to the appearance of John the Baptist in the early 1st century AD, almost the same period as the Second Temple Period (530 BC to 70 AD).
When Jesus addresses the man who had been ill for 38 years by asking him if he wanted to get well (John 5:6) the man answers that he has no one to put him in the pool when the water is stirred up (John 5:7). Notice that Jesus does not question the validity of this happening. So here we see an instance of God’s mercy being demonstrated to the Jews in Jerusalem during this seemingly silent period of time between the Old and New testaments. The fact that Jesus dos not question the validity of this happening adds additional credibility to this recorded occurrence.
Update: Mandy from https://bluecollartheologian.blog/ (Thank you Mandy ! ) brought it to my attention that there is some controversy with regard to the authenticity of John 5:4. I did some research and came up with the following link that explains the controversy: http://www.biblestudymagazine.com/bible-study-magazine-blog/2014/04/who-took-verse-4-out-of-my-bible
So, with that in mind, it does explain the oddity of this particular verse.
Jesus of course instructs the man to “Get up, pick up your pallet and walk” (John 5:8). The man is immediately healed, recovers his strength, picks up his pallet and walks and John tells us that this took place on the Sabbath (John 5:9).
There were Jews there who observed that he had been healed but notice where their concern is focused, not on the miracle of his healing that had just taken place, but rather on the fact that the man who was healed was breaking the Law which forbids picking up the pallet on the Sabbath (John 5:10).
When they question the healed man, his response in John 5:11 is pointed, to say the least. “The man who healed me and gave me back my strength was the One who said to me, “pickup your pallet and walk!”
John 5:12 shows that these Jews who were questioning the healed man about picking up his pallet had not personally witnessed Jesus healing the man because they ask the healed man “Who is the man who told you “Pick up your pallet and walk?” John 5:13 shows that the man did not initially know that it was Jesus who had healed him and that Jesus had basically slipped away in the crowd that was there.
It is important to note that the Law of Moses taught that the Sabbath must be different from other days. On it, neither people or animals could work. The prophet Jeremiah had prohibited carrying burdens or working on the Sabbath (Jeremiah 17:21-22). Over the years, the Jewish leaders had amassed hundreds of rules and regulations concerning the Sabbath. By Jesus’ day they had 39 different classifications of work. According to them, carrying furniture and even providing medical treatment on the Sabbath were forbidden. Jesus did not break the law, He violated the traditions of the Pharisees which had grown up around the Law.
But above and beyond that, the real clincher to Jesus healing on the Sabbath is the statement that Jesus makes in John 5:17 NASB “But He answered them, “My Father is working until now, and I Myself am working.”
The purpose of the Sabbath is to learn to trust or rest in God and Jesus let those who objected to Him healing on the Sabbath know that God the Father worked on the Sabbath and I, because I am the Son of God, also work on the Sabbath. Where Jesus states “My Father”, He claims not only a unique relationship with God the Father but also equality with God in nature. Since God continually does good works without allowing Himself to stop on the Sabbath, the Son does likewise, since He is equal with God.
In John 5:18, which records that this statement of Jesus made the Jews more determined than ever to kill Him, for not only was He breaking the Sabbath but He was also calling God His own Father, making Himself equal with God. This statement shows that the Jewish leaders thoroughly understood the implications of Jesus’ claims.
To infer that Jesus never called Himself God or equal with God is ludicrous. This is just one of many scripture verses within the Gospels where Jesus clearly indicates that He is divine and equal with God. It is precisely because Jesus made these statements that the Jewish leaders wanted to kill Him because He claimed authority over the Jewish leaders themselves and that authority could not be tolerated.
Bear in mind that in this instance it was Jesus who sought out the man who was ill. The man did not initially even know who had healed him. It was Jesus who deliberately healed on the Sabbath, at the Pool of Bethesda, in Jerusalem, in the presence of the Jewish leaders. Jesus knew exactly what was going to happen next. This was not a challenge on Jesus’ part, this was a declaration, hence the fierce opposition.
More to follow.
Worthy is the Lamb! Blessings!