The cure at the pool of Bethesda. (1-9) The Jews' displeasure.
(10-16) Christ reproves the Jews. (17-23) Christ's discourse.
We are all by nature impotent folk in spiritual things,
blind, halt, and withered; but full provision is made for our
cure, if we attend to it. An angel went down, and troubled the
water; and what disease soever it was, this water cured it, but
only he that first stepped in had benefit. This teaches us to be
careful, that we let not a season slip which may never return.
The man had lost the use of his limbs thirty-eight years. Shall
we, who perhaps for many years have scarcely known what it has
been to be a day sick, complain of one wearisome night, when
many others, better than we, have scarcely known what it has
been to be a day well? Christ singled this one out from the
rest. Those long in affliction, may comfort themselves that God
keeps account how long. Observe, this man speaks of the
unkindness of those about him, without any peevish reflections.
As we should be thankful, so we should be patient. Our Lord
Jesus cures him, though he neither asked nor thought of it.
Arise, and walk. God's command, Turn and live; Make ye a new
heart; no more supposes power in us without the grace of God,
his distinguishing grace, than this command supposed such power
in the impotent man: it was by the power of Christ, and he must
have all the glory. What a joyful surprise to the poor cripple,
to find himself of a sudden so easy, so strong, so able to help
himself! The proof of spiritual cure, is our rising and walking.
Has Christ healed our spiritual diseases, let us go wherever he
sends us, and take up whatever he lays upon us; and walk before
Those eased of the punishment of sin, are in danger of
returning to sin, when the terror and restraint are over, unless
Divine grace dries up the fountain. The misery believers are
made whole from, warns us to sin no more, having felt the smart
of sin. This is the voice of every providence, Go, and sin no
more. Christ saw it necessary to give this caution; for it is
common for people, when sick, to promise much; when newly
recovered, to perform only something; but after awhile to forget
all. Christ spoke of the wrath to come, which is beyond compare
worse than the many hours, nay, weeks and years of pain, some
wicked men have to suffer in consequence of their unlawful
indulgences. And if such afflictions are severe, how dreadful
will be the everlasting punishment of the wicked!
The Divine power of the miracle proved Jesus to be the
Son of God, and he declared that he worked with, and like unto
his Father, as he saw good. These ancient enemies of Christ
understood him, and became more violent, charging him not only
with sabbath-breaking, but blasphemy, in calling God his own
Father, and making himself equal with God. But all things now,
and at the final judgment, are committed to the Son, purposely
that all men might honour the Son, as they honour the Father;
and every one who does not thus honour the Son, whatever he may
think or pretend, does not honour the Father who sent him.
Our Lord declared his authority and character, as the
Messiah. The time was come when the dead should hear his voice,
as the Son of God, and live. Our Lord first refers to his
raising those who were dead in sin, to newness of life, by the
power of the Spirit, and then to his raising the dead in their
graves. The office of Judge of all men, can only be exercised by
one who has all knowledge, and almighty power. May we believe
His testimony; thus our faith and hope will be in God, and we
shall not come into condemnation. And may His voice reach the
hearts of those dead in sin; that they may do works meet for
repentance, and prepare for the solemn day.
Our Lord returns to his declaration of the entire
agreement between the Father and the Son, and declared himself
the Son of God. He had higher testimony than that of John; his
works bore witness to all he had said. But the Divine word had
no abiding-place in their hearts, as they refused to believe in
Him whom the Father had sent, according to his ancient promises.
The voice of God, accompanied by the power of the Holy Ghost,
thus made effectual to the conversion of sinners, still
proclaims that this is the beloved Son, in whom the Father is
well pleased. But when the hearts of men are full of pride,
ambition, and the love of the world, there is no room for the
word of God to abide in them.
The Jews considered that eternal life was revealed to
them in their Scriptures, and that they had it, because they had
the word of God in their hands. Jesus urged them to search those
Scriptures with more diligence and attention. "Ye do search the
Scriptures," and ye do well to do so. They did indeed search the
Scriptures, but it was with a view to their own glory. It is
possible for men to be very studious in the letter of the
Scriptures, yet to be strangers to its power. Or, "Search the
Scriptures," and so it was spoken to them in the nature of an
appeal. Ye profess to receive and believe the Scripture, let
that be the judge. It is spoken to us as advising or commanding
all Christians to search the Scriptures. Not only read them, and
hear them, but search them; which denotes diligence in examining
and studying them. We must search the Scriptures for heaven as
our great end; For in them ye think ye have eternal life. We
must search the Scriptures for Christ, as the new and living
Way, that leads to this end. To this testimony Christ adds
reproofs of their unbelief and wickedness; their neglect of him
and his doctrine. Also he reproves their want of the love of
God. But there is life with Jesus Christ for poor souls. Many
who make a great profession of religion, yet show they want the
love of God, by their neglect of Christ and contempt of his
commandments. It is the love of God in us, the love that is a
living, active principle in the heart, which God will accept.
They slighted and undervalued Christ, because they admired and
overvalued themselves. How can those believe, who make the
praise and applause of men their idol! When Christ and his
followers are men wondered at, how can those believe, the utmost
of whose ambition is to make a fair show in the flesh!
Many trust in some form of doctrines or some parties, who
no more enter into the real meaning of those doctrines, or the
views of the persons whose names they bear, than the Jews did
into those of Moses. Let us search and pray over the Scriptures,
as intent on finding eternal life; let us observe how Christ is
the great subject of them, and daily apply to him for the life