Leaving John 5 while looking in on “just” the story of the invalid at the pool is like visiting Paris and leaving after “just” visiting the Lourvre. There’s just too much more to see here. I’m staying an extra day.
The story of the invalid man doesn’t end with his healing. A couple of days ago I wrote that the Pharisees, in a well-intentioned but mistaken effort to keep Israel from the spiritual adultery that led to her centuries-long economic and political downfall, imposed and enforced a zillion new “holiness” rules. As government bureaucracy often does, it became absurd in practice. For example, the healed man is walking away with his mat. The PC (Pharisaically Correct) Police approach him and say (pick one):
1. “Wow, praise God, you’re walking!”
2. “Race you to the Temple!”
3. “It is the Sabbath: the law forbids you to carry your mat.”
Wait, wait, I KNOW this……Yep, Door Number Three. Never mind that they themselves could be accused of “working.” No doubt their excuse would be, “yeah, but this is God’s Work. He never slumbers nor sleeps, so neither do we.” In fact that is pretty much what Jesus said (v. 17) in his defense when “the Jews persecuted him.” (About that term “the Jews” - when the gospel writers say “the Jews” the clear meaning in context isn’t all Jews, generic, which would of course include Jesus and themselves and much of the early church. It means the Jews who forcibly opposed the gospel, Jesus and his followers.)
Jesus then breaks into a lengthy sermon declaring and defending his divine authority. How wonderful of Jesus and so unlike fallen mankind that he never compelled others, except demons, to “make his point” or “get his way”. Instead he tells awesome truths that are “backed up” by the miracles:
1. Whatever the Father does, the Son does.
2. The Father loves the Son and shows Him all He does.
3. He will show us even greater things than these (healings).
4. Just as the Father raises from the dead and gives life, the Son gives life to whom He is pleased to give it.
5. The Father has entrusted all judgment to the Son.
6. He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father.
7. Whoever hears His words and believes Him who sent Him has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life.
8. The dead will hear the voice of the Son of God and live.
9. As the Father has life in himself, the Son has life in himself.
10. The Father has given him authority to judge because He is the Son of Man.
11. A time is coming when all who are in their graves will hear His voice and come out – those who have done good will rise to live, and those who have done evil will rise to be condemned.
12. By Himself He can do nothing, but his judgments are just, for he seeks to please God only.
13. John testifies Jesus is God’s son.
14. Jesus’s work testifies He is God’s son.
15. The Father testifies that He has sent Jesus.
16. Jesus describes the Pharisees thusly: “You have never heard his voice nor seen his form, nor does his word dwell in you, for you do not believe the one he sent. You diligently study the Scriptures because you think that by them you possess eternal life. These are the Scriptures that testify about me, yet you refuse to come to me to have life.”
17. He does not accept praise from men, but He knows their hearts.
18. Moses, not Jesus, is the accuser of the Pharisees.
In a nutshell, then: if you reject Jesus, you reject Moses and the God of Israel, by your choice you will be condemned and die. Embrace Him and you embrace Moses, the prophets, the Law, and the great and only I AM, and by your choice you will cross over from death to eternal life.