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23: A Notable Sabbath Day in Jerusalem

May 14, 2009

Major Text: John 5:1-47

Key Verse: John 5:24


  1. The Man at Bethesda-Physical Power                  John 5:1-13
  2. The Men at the Temple-Spiritual Power              John 5:14-18
  3. The Son of Man at the Temple-Divine Power      John 5:19-30
  4. Divine Authority                                                  John 5:31-40



This is one of the most important texts in the New Testament.  Jesus is in Jerusalem most likely for the Feast of Tabernacles.  It is about seven months into His ministry assuming it formally began at Passover [John 2].  He is confronted by the Jewish leaders and states clearly that He is the Son of God.

This day begins with Jesus at the Pool of Bethesda where the physically disabled gather to be healed if they can reach the “moving” waters in time.  This is a public place, quite large, and close to the north side of the temple mount.  Jesus sees a man who has been an invalid for 38 years and asks if he wants to be healed.  He thinks perhaps Jesus will stick around and help him into the waters if they start to move.  Instead, Jesus tells him, to pick up his bed and walk.  This is a no-no on the Sabbath so the Jews get on his case immediately.  He says another man told him to do so but by then Jesus has slipped into the crowds and cannot be seen or found.

Later Jesus sees him at the Temple and tells him to stop sinning before something worse happens to him.  So the man goes to the Jews and tells them he was healed by Jesus.  They begin to persecute Jesus for healing on the Sabbath forcing Jesus to respond that He and His Father work everyday.  Thus, they begin plotting how they can kill Him because His teaching does not conform to their teaching.  And Jesus claims to be equal with God the Father.

The discussion continues with Jesus stating He obeys the Father and He will do even greater things such as raising people from the dead, judging the dead, and granting eternal life.  He is equal to God the Father and whoever believes He has been sent from God will have eternal life.  He goes on to explain that soon the dead will hear His voice and live or be condemned.  This could be a future reference to Lazarus, Himself, or to the spiritually dead.  That is it can be interpreted literally or metaphorically, or both.  Personally, I prefer both.  You will note that my comments on Revelation are in much the same mode where two meanings are possible.  I think this is entirely possible in that scripture is inspired.  I don’t wish to read more into scripture than it says but I also don’t want to limit its full meaning.  Appropriate balance is how I want to approach scripture.  Consider these other passages:  Matt. 27:52-53; Ephesians 4:7-9; I Peter 3:18-20; and my notes on these passages.  Considering all these passages together makes for an interesting speculative dogmatic discussion.  BUT we will not err if we approach this scripture only metaphorically saying that Jesus is speaking of granting life to those who are dead in their sin.  They know darkness, not The Light.

Jesus concludes by addressing His authority and testimony of such.  He references John the Baptist, His own work of miracles and teaching, and God the Father through scripture.  He even references Moses’ writings.  They accuse Him of breaking the law but Jesus says they are breaking the Law because they have no love in their hearts for Him or for God.  They don’t believe in Moses or in Jesus.  So He is already acting as judge.


  1. Praise and thank God for revealing Himself and for the privilege of recognizing the TRUTH. The TRUTH is that Jesus is the Son of God incarnate living in unity with God the Father and has been given authority to judge the living and the dead and to grant eternal life to all who believe in Him.
  2. Now that we know who Jesus is and believe His Word; honor Him, follow Him, and obey Him.
  3. The physical miracles of God attract attention from unbelievers. The miracles of God always glorify the name of Christ.
  4. The Work of God, our ministry on His behalf, knows no Sabbath. We may take a day off but His ministry does not.
  5. Now that Jesus has changed your life, change your heart and your ways.
  6. Claiming God is the source of the change in your lifestyle will bring persecution. Don’t lose sight of the fact that God is personal.
  7. To believe in Jesus requires one to believe Jesus the Son and God the Father are one. Jesus claims to have power to grant eternal life, resurrect the dead, and to judge man; the power of God Almighty.
  8. The Word of God is to be believed. The word of the prophets is to be believed. The Word, Jesus, is to be believed.
  • Without belief there is no faith,
  • Without faith there is no grace,
  • Without grace there is no salvation,
  • Without salvation there is no life,
  • Without life there is no hope,
  • Without hope there is no love,
  • Without love there is no forgiveness,
  • Without forgiveness there are no miracles,
  • Without miracles there is only sin and death.

“Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved.” Acts 16:31

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