A Proper View God and Man is Linked: Part I
John 5:1-14: Jesus’ Miracle at Bethesda
Introduction: The two-part series: A Proper View of Man and God from John 5:1-18 gives the picture of Jesus as the Healer, Miracle worker and Revealer. He is ministering to the people in this case one person at a time. Jesus used miracles to demonstrate His authority over disease, demons, death, and nature as witnesses to His deity (John 20:30-31. The miracles had a sign purpose: to motivate people from a purely sensual experience via the senses only to a suprasensual one – to understand the events with the eyes of saving faith and true hope..
The Triune God was at work revealing Himself in the Son by the Holy Spirit (Isaiah 11:1-5; Matthew 4:1; Luke 4:1). This required a proper view and man and God. Jesus revealed himself through signs, wonders, and miracles. He revealed as Healer using the milieu of physical healing to point to the more important spiritual healing. He was God’s agent on earth to preach the good news to the poor, to proclaim freedom for the prisoners, and recover sight for the blind (Luke4:18-22). He set the captives free from themselves, false teaching, Satan, and sin. He was appointed and anointed to be God’s Messiah through the Holy Spirit who indwelt and empowered Him (Isaiah 11:2; 42:1; 48:16; 61:1). Salvation was an Intratrinitarian activity.
Jesus came to His own creation and His own people. His mission was to save His own, His people, the Father’s gift to the Son (John 1:10-11; 3:17-21; 6:37-43). As the Godman, Jesus was God’s Messiah – the Anointed One. As God, Jesus and the Father were one (John 10:30). They were in perfect synchrony in terms of function and results. Moreover, Jesus was discipled by the Father and entirely dependent on Him through the work of the Spirit (John 4:31-34; 5:19, 30 to mention a few references). Jesus told Phillip, and the world, that when you saw Him you have seen the Father (John 14:6-9). Jesus revealed and explained the Father (John 1:14, 18). The Holy Spirit, another Counselor/Paraclete just like Christ, would come and reveal in a completely different way the Son and would lead the apostles into all truth (John 14:15-17; 15:26-27; 16:13-14). The Triune God made sure that the world heard and saw the only truly Good News!
Jesus proclaimed a simple but supernatural, counterintuitive, and countercultural message, unbelievable to the natural man: repent the kingdom of God is at hand (Matthew 4:17 – 3:2 and Mark 1:15). Jesus was ushering in a new age, a new existence, a new creation, and with it new mindset and perspective. However, much false teaching and misunderstanding abounded. Therefore He revealed truth in a variety of ways thereby promoting true faith and trust in the true message and the God of that message. He revealed Himself supernaturally both by what He did and did not do (words and works) and what the Spirit did in the heart of His people.
The deity of Christ was attested to by His miracles. One purpose of miracles was to declare the presence and glory of God. Another is given in John 20:30-31: so that the people believe and have assurance of their faith and their God.
John 5:1-18 records Jesus’ encounter with the man who was healed at the pool of Bethesda and Jesus encountered with the Pharisees. The man who was an invalid for 38 years came regularly to the pool with great hope (v.5). Apparently, the moving water was thought to the vehicle by which healing was offered and secured (v.3-4). In verse 6 Jesus asked the man if he wanted healing – to be made well (the word in the original is the English word for hygiene). The man had been waiting and waiting. Jesus questioned the man as to his real understanding and desire – do you want to be made well? The man had accepted the false, current, superstitious teaching of the day – there was angelic, supernatural healing in the water (v.3-4). Following this reasoning, the man offered an explanation (perhaps an excuse) for his lack of healing – no one would put him in the water (v.7). Jesus bypassed the pool and goes directly to Himself. He gave a command – get up (v.8). Instantaneously, the man did and was well (v.9). Jesus did not need a pool of water! The blessing came as the ma obeyed (John 13:17; James 1:25).
What an amazing story. The man had no power of his own to stand physically or spiritually. He was unable to heal and cleanse himself. He did not connect his desire for and need of physical healing with his need of spiritual cleaning which everyone needs. He brought a mindset and faith to the pool. He did have faith – before, during, and after his encounter with Jesus. Every person is a faith-based being by God’s design. Everyone’s faith involves knowledge and is informed or misinformed faith. Faith is belief and belief in some object. Radically, Jesus turned him and his thoughts and desires upside down. The man had faith but its content and object was not Christ. The man had been wrongly informed and he acted accordingly. Jesus provided a proper view of God and man and demonstrated their linkage.
In verse 14, Jesus encountered the man at the temple and told him to stop his patterned life of sin. Jesus did not necessarily mean that his physical problem was personally sin-engendered. Jesus was referring to the concept taught in Galatians 5:16-18 and Ephesians 2:1-3. Sin no more meant sin no more as you have in the past. We know from such places as Roman 6:1-11 that the believer has died to sin. Therefore a lifestyle of self-pleasing sinfulness and sinning is not becoming the believer (Ephesians 5:8-14; Philippians 2:12-13; 1 Thessalonians 4:1-3; 1 John 1:5-10). Moreover, the healing occurred on the Sabbath (v.9). More on than next time!
1. Describe the situation and the man.
2. Describe Jesus.
3. Jesus brought two spheres together: the physical and the material known and visualized and by the eyes and ears.
a. Did Jesus leave them disconnected?
b. Did He connect them?
c. How did He do it?
d. What is the significance of this union of body and soul?
A Proper View of God and Man is Linked: Part II
John 5:15-18: Jesus’ Miracle at Bethesda
Jesus healed a man – a whole person, body and soul. Jesus taught the people, him and us true anthropology. He pointed to a proper understanding of sin, God, salvation, growth in Christ, and grace. Moreover, Jesus healed the man on the Sabbath Day. The Spiritual leaders and people had a wrong view of the Sabbath. They taught that man was made for the Sabbath and not the Sabbath was made for man (Mark 2:23-3:6 – Matthew 12:1-8). God had created man and established the Sabbath. The Sabbath Day is the Lord’s Day and Jesus is Lord of all including the Sabbath. The people had inverted the Creator-creature distinction! They were trying to keep the Sabbath according to their standard for their purposes and glory. Jesus would have none of it. God not man is the true Lawmaker. Lawkeeping by sinful man did not meet God’s just and even loving demands.
In the case of the Pharisees they did not care about the man and the people. They cared only about personal lawkeeping of their law – to self, by self, and for self. Jesus turned their world upside down and they hated Him for it. The healed man knew he was healed and rejoiced in hid s heling and the Healer. The Spiritual leaders wanted to make life hard for him, the healed one, and the Healer.
Jesus’ response to the Pharisees is recorded in verses 17-18. He had God’s work to do (verse17: Jesus said to them, My father is always at his work to this very day, and I too am working,). The Jews had a double motive to kill him: in their view He was a Sabbath breaker and he was claiming to be God (v.18). In fact, Jesus exposed their pride, ignorance, and hypocrisy.
What do we learn about Jesus, the man, the Spiritual leaders, and ourselves? John used a physical metaphor to explain spiritual truths.
• One from Isaiah 55:7-10, we learn at least one truth: God’s thoughts and ways are not our thoughts and ways. By questioning the man, Jesus directed him to bring his thoughts, desires, and actions in line with God’s. Jesus was presenting this man with a dilemma: trust in Jesus, or self and the culture’s wisdom.
• Two: Jesus healed the man physically (v.9) and spiritually (v.14). Jesus linked the two. The man, Israel who should have known, and the world did not make the connection. They viewed man as disunited. He had a body and he had a soul but the two were unrelated. Israel did not understand Jesus’ examples and parable. In contrast and biblically, man is a whole person, a duplex being, an inner and outer man. Therefore, thoughts, desires, and actions occur both in the inner and outer man and these change are under the direction and the energizing activity of the Holy Spirit. Therefore, man changes as a whole person both at salvation and as he grows as a saint. The believer was to bring his thoughts and desires in line with God’s as expressed in the Bible. Godly actions would follow. The change first occurs in the heart and extends throughout the whole person including the body. There is a change in the whole person as the person moves from a self-pleaser to a God-pleaser. These came to the fore as Jesus interacted with the man in John 5.
• Three: the physical pointed to the spiritual. Jesus healed the man completely but there was work to be done (v.14). The man was to grow in godliness best characterized as becoming more like Christ. Jesus directed the man to stop sinning or something worse may happen to you. Jesus commanded him, both as duty and a blessing, to change his worldview/mindset. As thoughts and desires changed, godly actions would follow.
• Four: the man had an encounter with Jesus and was not the same. Jesus beckons people to come and taste Him – intimacy and fellowship with Jesus (Psalm 34:8; Matthew 11:28-30; Philippians 3:7-11). David and Paul touted God as the One who deserved undivided loyalty and affection. The believer is called to invest himself and his time and energy in the Triune God. That requires a grace-produced changed view of self and God.
1. How are you like the paralyzed man?
2. What is your worldview/mindset and what is its origin?
3. How do you approach Christ? Is it simply to get?
4. What have you learned in terms of relationships?
5. What may be missing from your relationship with Christ?
6. What are your plans to taste and see that God is good?