The cure at the pool of Bethesda. (Verse 1-9.)
The Jews’ displeasure. (Verse 10-16.)
Christ reproves the Jews. (Verse 17-23.)
Christ’s discourse. (Verse 24-47.)
1 After this there was a feast of the Jews; and Jesus went up to Jerusalem.
The feast was most likely the feast of Yom Kippur (the day of atonement) where three times a year every able bodied Jewish man was to go to Jerusalem for the feasts as required by Moses in Leviticus 23
2 Now there is at Jerusalem by the sheep market a pool, which is called in the Hebrew tongue Bethesda, having five porches.
3 In these lay a great multitude of impotent folk, of blind, halt, withered, waiting for the moving of the water.
[impotent – without strength, without power] [halt – lame; hesitate; fall]
4 For an angel went down at a certain season into the pool, and troubled the water: whosoever then first after the troubling of the water stepped in was made whole of whatsoever disease he had.
many of the new versions, including the New International Version, completely leave out verse four along with the last half of verse three. The excuse given for such action in the margins of some of these “bibles” is that this verse does not appear in some of the older manuscripts. Should you wish to investigate the facts, you will find that this is only a half-truth and there is more than enough evidence for including this verse in your Bible. The modern day efforts of Satan to rob the Christian of his Bible at the hands of Bible-correctors and perverters is a danger that the student should not take too lightly.
This passage, along with the omission of “which is in heaven” back in John 3:13, will show the student a pattern that will be often repeated throughout the Bible. Those passages that deal with the fact that Jesus is God or that are referring to “hard-to-believe” supernatural events will be often attacked by the Bible correctors. Try reading this passage without the second half of verse 3 and 4 and it makes no sense when you get to verse 7. Such are the problems created by those who meddle with God’s words.
5 And a certain man was there, which had an infirmity thirty and eight years.
6 When Jesus saw him lie, and knew that he had been now a long time in that case, he saith unto him, Wilt thou be made whole?
7 The impotent man answered him, Sir, I have no man, when the water is troubled, to put me into the pool: but while I am coming, another steppeth down before me.
[impotent – without strength]
8 Jesus saith unto him, Rise, take up thy bed, and walk.
9 And immediately the man was made whole, and took up his bed, and walked: and on the same day was the sabbath.
10 The Jews therefore said unto him that was cured, It is the sabbath day: it is not lawful for thee to carry thy bed.
the sabbath day was the seventh day of the week (Saturday) and God had specifically commanded the Jews to rest on this day. The sabbath was a special sign that God had given to his people, the Jews. Because of the resurrection of Christ on the “first day of the week,” Christians now rest and worship on Sunday. Nowhere in the New Testament is the non-Jewish Christian told to observe the sabbath. – these Jews lied in that there was no Old Testament command in the law that kept a person from carrying their bed on the sabbath. Such an idea had become a part of the tradition of the Jews, but it was NOT a scriptural command. This illustrates for us the danger of making tradition equal with the words of God.
11 He answered them, He that made me whole, the same said unto me, Take up thy bed, and walk.
12 Then asked they him, What man is that which said unto thee, Take up thy bed, and walk?
13 And he that was healed wist not who it was: for Jesus had conveyed himself away, a multitude being in that place.
14 Afterward Jesus findeth him in the temple, and said unto him, Behold, thou art made whole: sin no more, lest a worse thing come unto thee.
15 The man departed, and told the Jews that it was Jesus, which had made him whole.
16 And therefore did the Jews persecute Jesus, and sought to slay him, because he had done these things on the sabbath day
The impotent man is a type of the nation of Israel, they were spiritually unable to heal themselves after having been so far away from God’s word for so long they had forgotten how to get to the only one who could help them. God.
The amazing part about this story to me is that the man who is healed turns around and once he finds out it was Jesus that healed him and told him to carry his bed he then goes back and tells those who wanted to kill Jesus that it was indeed Jesus that had healed him.
How impotent were these men of the truth that God was right in their midst wanting to heal them, but they are so blinded by the traditions of the elders that they cannot be saved even when the Saviour is standing in front of them.
The day of atonement was on the tenth day of the seventh month on the Jewish calendar, it was followed by the feast of tabernacles on the fifteenth day of the seventh month.
17 But Jesus answered them, My Father worketh hitherto, and I work.
18 Therefore the Jews sought the more to kill him, because he not only had broken the sabbath, but said also that God was his Father, making himself equal with God.
[Matt 12:14, Mark 3:6, Luke 6:11, John 10:39, John 11:53]
When Jesus called God the Father “my Father,” the Jews understood him to be making himself equal with God.
Cults that deny the deity of Christ say that it was just a misunderstanding of the people in this story that only thought that Jesus was claiming to be equal with God when he wasn’t really.
They understood Jesus perfectly and should have been upset if anyone other than the Messiah himself made such a claim, but since Jesus was the Son of God, their Messiah or Christ, he was also equal with God.
19 Then answered Jesus and said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do: for what things soever he doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise.
because God the Son and God the Father are one (note John 10:30), “The Son can do nothing of himself.” Father and Son must work together; they can not work independently of one another because they are one.
20 For the Father loveth the Son, and sheweth him all things that himself doeth: and he will shew him greater works than these, that ye may marvel.
there can be no secrets between the Father and Son. The reason again is because they are one. The whole concept of God being one God manifest in three persons, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit is admittedly a difficult concept to grasp and impossible for the human mind to fully understand. However, this doctrine is a Bible doctrine that will be seen repeatedly throughout scripture. I John 5:7 plainly states, “For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one.” Many of the cults and false religions of our day have decided that because they can not understand this doctrine, they will simply deny that it ever existed. Not only is this approach unbiblical and dishonouring to the Bible, but it dishonours God himself!
21 For as the Father raiseth up the dead, and quickeneth them; even so the Son quickeneth whom he will.
[quickeneth = to make alive, or give life]
If the ability to raise people from the dead does not prove the deity of Christ not much else will.
22 For the Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son:
23 That all men should honour the Son, even as they honour the Father. He that honoureth not the Son honoureth not the Father which hath sent him.
those who would try to honour the Father and Son differently (ie. one is God and the other a lesser god, etc.) are in disobedience to this verse.
Jesus is telling all of his Jewish hearers that the Father, who they all claim to honour and worship sent him, and by not believing in the one the Father sent, and honoring him, they are indeed not honoring the Father.
This makes perfect sense when you think about it, but it would assuredly anger any who did not like Jesus and his words.
24 Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.
Since Jesus Christ is life, then to believe in Christ is to possess that life. Jesus tells us that that life is everlasting life.
For a Jew to believe in Christ during his earthly ministry is to possess eternal life in the kingdom promised to them which follows the tribulation period (the time of Jacob’s trouble).
25 Verily, verily, I say unto you, The hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God: and they that hear shall live.
26 For as the Father hath life in himself; so hath he given to the Son to have life in himself;
Not only did the Father and Son have life in themselves but if any were to hear the voice of the Son of God they would possess everlasting life in the kingdom.
27 And hath given him authority to execute judgment also, because he is the Son of man.
28 Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice,
29 And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation.
[Dan 12:2, Matt 25:46, Rom 2:8, Rev 14:11, Rev 20:15]
“resurrection” means to come up from the dead. Every person who has ever lived will eventually be raised from the dead. Verse 29 is a very general statement that is further explained elsewhere in scripture.
Can you imagine someone standing in front of you who was telling you that he had the authority to execute judgment upon you and that he would raise you from the dead and judge you prior to sending you either into the kingdom with the resurrection of life, or into hell with the resurrection of damnation?
That’s what happened here, and the people should have taken notice and checked Jesus out to see if he truly was who he was claiming to be by his statements.
Clearly the only person who could do what Jesus said he would do was God alone. Jesus is God the Son.
30 I can of mine own self do nothing: as I hear, I judge: and my judgment is just; because I seek not mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent me.
[Matt 26:39, John 6:38, Phil 2:8]
31 If I bear witness of myself, my witness is not true.
32 There is another that beareth witness of me; and I know that the witness which he witnesseth of me is true.
33 Ye sent unto John, and he bare witness unto the truth.
34 But I receive not testimony from man: but these things I say, that ye might be saved.
35 He was a burning and a shining light: and ye were willing for a season to rejoice in his light.
[Isa 58:2, Matt 13:20]
36 But I have greater witness than that of John: for the works which the Father hath given me to finish, the same works that I do, bear witness of me, that the Father hath sent me.
the works (ie. miracles) that Jesus performed were a witness that the Father had indeed sent him.
37 And the Father himself, which hath sent me, hath borne witness of me. Ye have neither heard his voice at any time, nor seen his shape.
38 And ye have not his word abiding in you: for whom he hath sent, him ye believe not.
39 Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me.
40 And ye will not come to me, that ye might have life.
They thought they would go into the kingdom and live forever because they were descendants of Abraham, and because they had the law of Moses.
The nation of Israel began turning from God just hours after they had received it from Moses and were still running from God choosing rather to follow the precepts of men.
41 I receive not honour from men.
42 But I know you, that ye have not the love of God in you.
43 I am come in my Father’s name, and ye receive me not: if another shall come in his own name, him ye will receive.
[Jer 14:14, Jer 23:21, Matt 24:5]
44 How can ye believe, which receive honour one of another, and seek not the honour that cometh from God only?
45 Do not think that I will accuse you to the Father: there is one that accuseth you, even Moses, in whom ye trust.
Moses wrote “the Law” (the first five books of the Bible). The Law contained the ten commandments among other things and these commands pointed out to the Jews what was and what was not sin. In this sense, these commands in the Law that Moses wrote “accused” the people by pointing out their failures before God.
46 For had ye believed Moses, ye would have believed me: for he wrote of me.
47 But if ye believe not his writings, how shall ye believe my words?
A person who fails to believe what God has already written to them in the Bible would not believe God if he was standing in front of them in person, verbally giving them his words.
Moses wrote of the Messiah and warned Israel to listen unto him or else they would suffer the consequences:
Deuteronomy 18:17 And the LORD said unto me, They have well spoken that which they have spoken. 18 I will raise them up a Prophet from among their brethren, like unto thee, and will put my words in his mouth; and he shall speak unto them all that I shall command him. 19 And it shall come to pass, that whosoever will not hearken unto my words which he shall speak in my name, I will require it of him.
Commentary by Matthew Henry, 1710.
Verse 1-9 – We are all by nature impotent folk in spiritual things, blind, halt, and withered; but full provision is made for our cure, if we attend to it. An angel went down, and troubled the water; and what disease soever it was, this water cured it, but only he that first stepped in had benefit. This teaches us to be careful, that we let not a season slip which may never return. The man had lost the use of his limbs thirty-eight years. Shall we, who perhaps for many years have scarcely known what it has been to be a day sick, complain of one wearisome night, when many others, better than we, have scarcely known what it has been to be a day well? Christ singled this one out from the rest. Those long in affliction, may comfort themselves that God keeps account how long. Observe, this man speaks of the unkindness of those about him, without any peevish reflections. As we should be thankful, so we should be patient. Our Lord Jesus cures him, though he neither asked nor thought of it. Arise, and walk. God’s command, Turn and live; Make ye a new heart; no more supposes power in us without the grace of God, his distinguishing grace, than this command supposed such power in the impotent man: it was by the power of Christ, and he must have all the glory. What a joyful surprise to the poor cripple, to find himself of a sudden so easy, so strong, so able to help himself! The proof of spiritual cure, is our rising and walking. Has Christ healed our spiritual diseases, let us go wherever he sends us, and take up whatever he lays upon us; and walk before him.
Verse 10-16 – Those eased of the punishment of sin, are in danger of returning to sin, when the terror and restraint are over, unless Divine grace dries up the fountain. The misery believers are made whole from, warns us to sin no more, having felt the smart of sin. This is the voice of every providence, Go, and sin no more. Christ saw it necessary to give this caution; for it is common for people, when sick, to promise much; when newly recovered, to perform only something; but after awhile to forget all. Christ spoke of the wrath to come, which is beyond compare worse than the many hours, nay, weeks and years of pain, some wicked men have to suffer in consequence of their unlawful indulgences. And if such afflictions are severe, how dreadful will be the everlasting punishment of the wicked!
Verse 17-23 – The Divine power of the miracle proved Jesus to be the Son of God, and he declared that he worked with, and like unto his Father, as he saw good. These ancient enemies of Christ understood him, and became more violent, charging him not only with sabbath-breaking, but blasphemy, in calling God his own Father, and making himself equal with God. But all things now, and at the final judgment, are committed to the Son, purposely that all men might honour the Son, as they honour the Father; and every one who does not thus honour the Son, whatever he may think or pretend, does not honour the Father who sent him.
Verse 24-29 – Our Lord declared his authority and character, as the Messiah. The time was come when the dead should hear his voice, as the Son of God, and live. Our Lord first refers to his raising those who were dead in sin, to newness of life, by the power of the Spirit, and then to his raising the dead in their graves. The office of Judge of all men, can only be exercised by one who has all knowledge, and almighty power. May we believe His testimony; thus our faith and hope will be in God, and we shall not come into condemnation. And may His voice reach the hearts of those dead in sin; that they may do works meet for repentance, and prepare for the solemn day.
Verse 30-38 – Our Lord returns to his declaration of the entire agreement between the Father and the Son, and declared himself the Son of God. He had higher testimony than that of John; his works bore witness to all he had said. But the Divine word had no abiding-place in their hearts, as they refused to believe in Him whom the Father had sent, according to his ancient promises. The voice of God, accompanied by the power of the Holy Ghost, thus made effectual to the conversion of sinners, still proclaims that this is the beloved Son, in whom the Father is well pleased. But when the hearts of men are full of pride, ambition, and the love of the world, there is no room for the word of God to abide in them.
Verse 39-44 – The Jews considered that eternal life was revealed to them in their Scriptures, and that they had it, because they had the word of God in their hands. Jesus urged them to search those Scriptures with more diligence and attention. “Ye do search the Scriptures,” and ye do well to do so. They did indeed search the Scriptures, but it was with a view to their own glory. It is possible for men to be very studious in the letter of the Scriptures, yet to be strangers to its power. Or, “Search the Scriptures,” and so it was spoken to them in the nature of an appeal. Ye profess to receive and believe the Scripture, let that be the judge. It is spoken to us as advising or commanding all Christians to search the Scriptures. Not only read them, and hear them, but search them; which denotes diligence in examining and studying them. We must search the Scriptures for heaven as our great end; For in them ye think ye have eternal life. We must search the Scriptures for Christ, as the new and living Way, that leads to this end. To this testimony Christ adds reproofs of their unbelief and wickedness; their neglect of him and his doctrine. Also he reproves their want of the love of God. But there is life with Jesus Christ for poor souls. Many who make a great profession of religion, yet show they want the love of God, by their neglect of Christ and contempt of his commandments. It is the love of God in us, the love that is a living, active principle in the heart, which God will accept. They slighted and undervalued Christ, because they admired and overvalued themselves. How can those believe, who make the praise and applause of men their idol! When Christ and his followers are men wondered at, how can those believe, the utmost of whose ambition is to make a fair show in the flesh!
Verse 45-47 – Many trust in some form of doctrines or some parties, who no more enter into the real meaning of those doctrines, or the views of the persons whose names they bear, than the Jews did into those of Moses. Let us search and pray over the Scriptures, as intent on finding eternal life; let us observe how Christ is the great subject of them, and daily apply to him for the life he bestows