A Voice in the
"It is the Sabbath; it is not lawful for you to carry your bed... He who made me well said to me, Take up your bed and walk." (vs10-11) "..the Son is not able to do anything from Himself, but what He sees the Father do.." (vs19) "..the Father judges no one, but has committed all judgment to the Son.." (vs22) "..I have a greater testimony than John's; for the works which the Father has given Me to finish; the very works that I do; bear witness of Me, that the Father has sent me." (vs36) "I do not receive honor from men" (vs41) "..there is one who accuses you; Moses, in whom you have hoped...if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe My words?" (vs47)
Of the four Gospels, John is most unique. The other three simply record Jesus' life, teachings, miracles, crucifixion, etc. But none of them see Jesus arguing His case as the Son of God the way John does. John is to the N.T., what Isaiah is to the O.T. If you read Isaiah you will see how God presents His "case" for His existence to Israel, much as an attorney might present -evidence- before a court.
The topic of this passage is introduced by the Jewish leaders, "it is NOT LAWFUL for you to carry your bed." (vs10) Who had established this law? Moses? Remember when the Law was first given, somebody on the Sabbath went out and collected kindling to cook their meal. What was the verdict? "..stone him with stones outside the camp". (Num15:32-36) But where did Moses come up with the Law? "..Jehovah said to Moses, The man must surely be put to death.." (vs35) Who gave the Law initially, which Moses enforced? "I am Jehovah your God...Remember the sabbath day to keep it holy." (Ex20:2,8)
How did God go about establishing His own authority, after which, He gave the Law? He had just delivered puny little Israel, totally defenseless and unarmed, out from under the bondage of the world's most powerful nation. He had dried up the Red Sea so they walked across on dry ground. When they were thirsty, He split open the rock and brought out water. When they were hungry, He gave them their daily portion of food. And as He gave the Law, He came down upon Mt. Sinai in a thick cloud with thunders, lightning and earthquakes. As Moses was to go up into the mountain to meet with God, "..so formidable was the sight that Moses [who had already been in communion with God prior to this], said, I am in terror and trembling." (Heb12:21) Was there any doubt as to His awesome power? Was there any doubt as to His 'authority' to give the Law? In proving His might overwhelmingly, who would dare to resist Him without fearing the consequences? If He said, "Keep the Sabbath", His omnipotence established it.
This lame man has been lying by the pool of Bethesda for 38 years! 38 years was well-nigh-unto maxing out a typical life-expectancy of those days. Especially, if all he did was to "lie" there, he was certainly not getting proper exercise to keep healthy, otherwise. But also, 38 years, being his whole life-time, he certainly knows-the-ropes around there. He has seen that angel come and stir up the waters so many times that he cannot count them. He has seen impossibly sick people get into the waters and be healed. He likely knows about doctors and healers plying their magical arts. In 38 years, he knows the difference between spiritist quackery, and Jehovah's genuine article. And he knows his own sorry hopeless state.
So, along comes this 'man' who says to him, "Rise up, take up your bed and walk." (vs8) In essence, what is this 'man' telling him to do? Break the Sabbath. Yes, I know it's the Sabbath, but why don't you break it now, and pick up your bed. Well, if anybody else were to come to this man and say such a thing, he might have laughed back in their face. He cannot even manage to muster up the ability to make it down to the pool in time to get healed. (vs7) And I'm supposed to just go on a lark, just for the sake of breaking the Sabbath? YaRight! I'll pick up my bed...when pigs fly! If I were even -ABLE- to pick up my bed!
Do you see what this "healing" was? Yes, Jesus -healed- this man. But why didn't He come around on Friday? or...Sunday? The man could have been healed just as well on any -other- number of days of the week. Jesus tells the man, "Pick up your bed"; and along with the command, gives the man healing which he knows within his body. Remember, he has seen 38 years of others being healed. This time, however, an angel does not stir up the waters, but a 'man' tells him to pick up his bed; but his healing is just as authentic as when the Heavenly messenger (angel) usually comes by on a regular basis.
"..it is NOT LAWFUL for you to carry your bed..." Well, I don't know about that, but, "He who made me well said to me, Take up your bed and walk." (vs11)
What authority had given the Law? Something way beyond human power. What authority had just now 'broken' that same Law? Something that 38 years of other means and hopelessness had not been able to heal.
When we studied "Sabbath" in the series, "Ten Commandments" (and some of its subsequent Q/As), we used an example of a composer of music. If a pianist was performing Beethoven's "Moonlight Sonata" and after three movements began playing a "fourth", the audience would gasp in horror. The Moonlight Sonata only has three movements. A fourth movement would not be -authentic- "Beethoven". But if Beethoven, himself, were to appear on the scene, would he not have authority to make some revisions to his own work? But he would need to prove to the music world that he was, in fact, Beethoven. How would he go about to prove it?
Well, this is what Jesus is doing. God gave the Law from Sinai. At the same time God promised to send His "Angel" to lead Israel. (Ex23:23) And we know from Paul's writing, that the One who was with Israel in the wilderness "was Christ". (1Cor10:4)
So, how is Jesus to prove to Israel that He is, indeed, The Christ? He must show 'evidence' of being from the same Source that gave the Law originally. He must provide "testimony" before this informal "court-of-law". After all, the legal experts are accusing Him of -breaking- the "Law".
Would you please state your name for the record. "My Father works until now, and I work." (vs17) Later He will be drilled more intensely, and He will say, "..before Abraham came to be, I AM." (8:58) And when on official trial for His life, they will put Him under oath, "Tell us if You are the Christ, the Son of God." To which He answers, "You said it." (Mt26:63-64)
But for right now, 'Look at My works'. The Father has done certain things; and I do likewise. I cannot do anything of My own ability. It comes from the Father. (vs19) Isn't this amazing! Here Jesus is, God's very Son, saying that what He does is not of His own authority. So, why is it that today's 'spirit-filled' pretend-christians think that -they- have all this power?! Even God's Son did not usurp for Himself, what today's charlatans purport to do!
But the Father has given certain authority to the Son: to raise the dead (vs21), to have judgment (vs22), honor (vs23), giving of resurrection (vs25), to give eternal life (vs24). But notice again, that this authority does not originate with the Son, but is given to Him by the Father...why? "..because I do not seek My own will but the will of the Father who sent Me." (vs30)
So notice...we are still in 'court'. "If I bear witness concerning Myself, My testimony is not true." (vs31) But there is 'other' testimony of Jesus' authenticity. John proclaimed, "Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!" (1:29) The Holy Spirit witnessed by coming down upon Him. And John "bore witness" to this event. (1:33-34) The Father testified, "You are My Son". (Ps2:7, Mk1:11, Heb1:5)
In addition, Jesus' "works..bear witness" of Himself. (vs36) And in this, we get back to the healing on the Sabbath. God created the Sabbath. God commanded to keep the Sabbath sanctified. Now, Jesus comes along and says, essentially, 'break' the Sabbath. By what authority? Here... be healed IN ORDER THAT you -can- break it! Who else, ever in the history of mankind ever did such miracles? Only God or God's messengers.
It is like when Peter and John healed the lame man, and subsequently preached Christ to the crowd, and are subsequently standing before many of these same rulers, it says, "And seeing the man who had been healed standing with them, they had nothing to say against it." (Acts4:14) Legal proof. Exhibit entered into evidence.
You wish to condemn Me for saying "that God [is My] Father, making [Myself] equal with God"? (vs18) Here is My evidence which I present before 'your honors'. The works which God Almighty did when He gave the Law... I am doing the same works. And Moses (whose writings you have studied for your bar exams), gives precedence for this case. "..for he wrote about Me." (vs46)
I rest My case.