3 Words that will forever change the way you read the Gospel of John: Week 5

Contents

Chapter 5: Sabbath, and the Son of God

Christ_heals_the_man_with_paralysed_hand

This is part 5 of a 21-part series which traces “seeing” and “hearing”, and looks at how they relate to “believing”, through the Gospel of John.

In Chapter 5, Jesus has a stand-off with the Jewish authorities, ostensibly about the Sabbath, but it becomes a conversation about his claim to be “Son of God”.

It is an important passage in many other ways, but for our purposes it mentions “seeing” and “hearing” just a few select times. Those mentions are significant, though, as we will find.


REVIEWING THE TEXT – CHAPTER 5

Jesus heals a man

Do you want to be made well?”
– John 5:6

At the Sheep Gate we find a man who has been crippled for 38 years (5:5). Equipped with the divinely informed sight, Jesus merely needs to look, in order to know the facts:

Jesus saw him lying there and knew…

– John 5:6

Hearing Jesus’ word, he was healed (5:8-9).

Now in Jerusalem by the Sheep Gate there is a pool, called in Hebrew Beth-zatha, which has five porticoes. In these lay many invalids—blind, lame, and paralysed. One man was there who had been ill for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him lying there and knew that he had been there a long time, he said to him, ‘Do you want to be made well?’  The sick man answered him, ‘Sir, I have no one to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up; and while I am making my way, someone else steps down ahead of me.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Stand up, take your mat and walk.’ At once the man was made well, and he took up his mat and began to walk.

– John 5:2-9

The Jews questioned him (5:10-12), but he didn’t know who the healer was. Why? He was relying on sight:

Now the man who had been healed did not know who it was, for Jesus had disappeared in the crowd that was there.

– John 5:13

He figured out “who had made him well” (5:15) only after Jesus spoke to him (5:14).

Later Jesus found him in the temple and said to him, ‘See, you have been made well! Do not sin any more, so that nothing worse happens to you.’ The man went away and told the Jews that it was Jesus who had made him well.

– John 5:14-15

Son of God

you do not have his word abiding in you, because you do not believe

Jesus, again divinely equipped to see truly, claims that he does “what he sees the Father doing” (5:19). But what are the people to do? Are they to “look at the Father?” No, they aren’t capable. Jesus gives tells them what they are to do:

Very truly, I tell you, anyone who hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life, and does not come under judgement, but has passed from death to life.

– John 5:24

Indeed, he goes on to say that it is the sound of his voice that will raise the dead (5:25-28).

‘Very truly, I tell you, the hour is coming, and is now here, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live. For just as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son also to have life in himself; and he has given him authority to execute judgement, because he is the Son of Man. Do not be astonished at this; for the hour is coming when all who are in their graves will hear his voice.’

– John 5:25-28

Again emphasising this hearing/seeing motif, Jesus talks about the spiritual state of his hearers:

You have never heard his voice or seen his form, and you do not have his word abiding in you, because you do not believe him whom he has sent.

– John 5:37-38


Questions to Ponder from Chapter 5

Why did Jesus heal the man?
At what point did the crippled man believe?
Verse 24 talks about passing “from death to life”. What significance might this have for being able “to see”?

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