Teaching on the Gospel of John by Rev. Dr. Nadine Burton

The Gospel of John Chronicles

Chapter Five
“Life Through the Son”

This chapter opens with a miracle story, then controversial dialogue, “which escalates into a decision to kill Jesus for his Christological claims, followed by a monologue by Jesus on his authority as the Son of Man.”[i] Jesus approached a pool by a sheep gate, which means in Aramaic “Bethesda,” surrounded by five porches. A great number of people gathered at this pool. In the King James Version, the scripture references an angel stirring the waters, and whoever can get into the pool is healed of their disease. People who were diseased, sick, or maimed, would lay around the pool waiting for the waters to stir. Jesus sees a young man lying by the pool and asks him, “Do you want to get well? The young man used the excuse that when the water is stirred, everyone gets ahead of him and that there is no one to help him into the pool. “Those who are healed/saved by Jesus must want the gift he has to offer…. the healing gift of God brings a new identity, new freedom and new responsibilities.”[ii]

Jesus told the young man, “Get up! Pick up your mat and walk.” The young man immediately picked up his mat and walked. This was the first reference to the Sabbath in the gospel of John, and it sets up the conflict to follow. The Jews questioned the man as to who made him walk, sharing that it was unlawful for him to carry his mat on the Sabbath. The young man did not know Jesus, so he really could not tell the Jews who had healed him. Jesus saw the young man later in the temple and said, “See, you are well again. Stop sinning or something worse may happen to you.” The young man went his way and then told the Jews that it was Jesus who healed him. 

Because Jesus healed on the Sabbath, the Jews began to persecute him. Jesus began a monologue on his Christological authority and identity in God the Father. “I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself, he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does, the Son also does.” Whoever believes Jesus’s words and does them has eternal life. Those who die will also be raised from death to life because they have done good, and those who are evil will rise to be condemned. “In traditional Old Testament and Jewish theology, this is the work of God in the eschatological future. In Johannine theology, these divine acts already begin in the life and ministry of Christ, before and after the resurrection. Judgment happens in response to Jesus’ presence and message.”[iii]

Jesus continued his discourse by acknowledging that he does not receive praise from men and judging that he knows those who do not have the love of God in their heart. In not believing the one whom God sent, Jesus questions the Jews authority in studying the scriptures. One can diligently study the scriptures because in them, they think they have eternal life. However, Jesus warns that “these are the scriptures that testify about me, yet you refuse to come to me and have life.”
It’s a difficult word for the Jews to hear. However, Jesus knows those who accept him, as he comes in the name of God. He goes on to suggest that the Jews accuser is Moses however, “if you believed Moses, you would believe me, for he wrote about me. But since you do not believe what he wrote, how are going to believe what I say?”

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[i]Boring, Eugene M. and Fred B Craddock, The People’s New Testament Commentary, pg. 303
[ii]Ibid, pg. 304.
[iii]Ibid., pg.306.

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