John 5:1-18

1 After this there was a feast of the Jews; and Jesus went up to Jerusalem.

The apostle John does not specify which feast was being celebrated as this chapter opens. The Jewish feasts were like our holidays today. An interesting study would be to use the concordance here at Godsview and follow "FEAST" through the Bible.

2 Now there is at Jerusalem by the sheep market a pool, which is called in the Hebrew tongue Bethesda, having five porches.

See Nehemial 3:1 and verse 32. This was in all probability the gate through which the sheep were brought in which were to be offered as sacrifices in the temple or sold to the inhabitants of Jerusalem for food.

3 In these lay a great multitude of impotent folk, of blind, halt, withered, waiting for the moving of the water.
4 For an angel went down at a certain season into the pool, and troubled the water: whosoever then first after the troubling of the water stepped in was made whole of whatsoever disease he had.

A great multitude, so many that it required five porches to provide room for them all, gathered in the hope of being cured.

5 And a certain man was there, which had an infirmity thirty and eight years.

[Had an infirmity thirty and eight years] The length of time he had been afflicted makes the miracle of this cure the greater. There could have been no deception in this case; as his affliction had lasted thirty eight years, it must have been known to the multitude; therefore he could not have been a person brought in for the purpose of pretending to be cured.

6 When Jesus saw him lie, and knew that he had been now a long time in that case, he saith unto him, Wilt thou be made whole?

[Wilt thou be made whole?] Christ, by asking this question designed to excite in this person faith, hope and a greater desire of being healed. He wished him to reflect on his miserable state that he might be better prepared to receive a cure and to value it when it came.

7 The impotent man answered him, Sir, I have no man, when the water is troubled, to put me into the pool: but while I am coming, another steppeth down before me.

[Sir, I have no man] The answer is, "Yes Sir! But I am unable to help myself. This is one contest which I will never win under my own power."

8 Jesus saith unto him, Rise, take up thy bed, and walk.

[Rise, take up thy bed and walk.] Jesus speaks here as God. He speaks in no name but his own, and with an authority which belongs to God alone. And what is the consequence? The man became whole immediately; and this sudden restoration to health and strength was an incontestable proof of the omnipotence of Christ.
It has been noted that our Lord, after having performed a miracle, was accustomed to connect a circumstance with it which attested to the truth. After the miracle of the five loaves, he ordered the fragments collected, which were more in quantity that the original loaves though several thousand had been fed. When he changed the water to wine, he ordered some to be taken first to the governor of the feast, that he might taste and bear testimony to it's genuineness and excellence. When he cured the lepers, he commanded them to show themselves to the priests, whose business it was to judge the cure. So here, after having cured this infirm man, he ordered him not only to arise, but to take up his bed and to walk.

9 And immediately the man was made whole, and took up his bed, and walked: and on the same day was the sabbath.
10 The Jews therefore said unto him that was cured, It is the sabbath day: it is not lawful for thee to carry thy bed.

[The same day was the sabbath] See Exodus 20:8-10 and Jeremiah 17:21-22. The bed was probably no more than a straw mat or blanket, but, under strict interpretation of the law, to carry it on the sabbath was a crime, and to command it to be carried was a command which could be lawfully issued only by God himself.

11 He answered them, He that made me whole, the same said unto me, Take up thy bed, and walk.

[He that made me whole] The poor man reasoned conclusively - He who could work such a miracle must be at least the best of men; now a good man will neither do evil himself nor command others to do it; but he who cured me ordered me to carry my bed, therefore he must have authority to say so.

12 Then asked they him, What man is that which said unto thee, Take up thy bed, and walk?
13 And he that was healed wist not who it was: for Jesus had conveyed himself away, a multitude being in that place.

[Then asked they him] Notice the focus here. Rather than investigating the implication of one in their midst who could heal the sick, the religious leaders were annoyed that someone had countermanded a rule.

[Jesus had conveyed himself away] Jesus was probably swarmed by the multitude after he healed the man. Since the purpose of this incident was not to heal everybody in sight but rather to contribute to the long term goal of preparing for Calvary by bringing attention to Christ and, through the miracle, credibility to his claim of being God, it was necessary to withdraw.

14 Afterward Jesus findeth him in the temple, and said unto him, Behold, thou art made whole: sin no more, lest a worse thing come unto thee.

[Jesus findeth him in the temple] The man being conscious that it was through the mercy of God that he was restored, (Though he did not as yet know distinctly who Christ was), went to the temple to thank God for his cure.

15 The man departed, and told the Jews that it was Jesus, which had made him whole.

[The man...told the Jews] The religious leaders who had previously asked him. He did not say it was Jesus who had ordered him to carry his bed, but it was Jesus who had cured him. He left them to draw the conclusion that this Jesus must be the miraculous power of God.

16 And therefore did the Jews persecute Jesus, and sought to slay him, because he had done these things on the sabbath day.

[Therefore did the Jews persecute Jesus, and sought to slay him] God's plan proceeds according to schedule. The Jews may have convinced themselves that they were defending the law of the land, but a higher purpose was at work.

17 But Jesus answered them, My Father worketh hitherto, and I work.

[My Father worketh] God createtd this world in six days; on the seventh he rested from all creative acts, and set it apart to be an everlasting memorial to his work. But, though he rested from creating, he never ceased from preserving and governing that which he had formed. In this respect he can keep no sabbaths, for nothing can continue to exist or answer the end proposed by the Divine wisdom and goodness without the continual energy of God. Jesus IS God, and so keeps the same schedule.

18 Therefore the Jews sought the more to kill him, because he not only had broken the sabbath, but said also that God was his Father, making himself equal with God.

Now they had two pretenses to take away his life. He had broken the sabbath (and they felt obligated to keep it Holy) and now blasphemy, making himself equal with God. Had Jesus not been truly God, the sentence passed upon him would have been legitimate. See Numbers 15:32-36 and Leviticus 24:11-16.

Based upon excerpts from Adam Clarke's Commentary, 2nd edition published in New York by Lane and Scott, 1850. More recent editions may be purchased from


This page updated 10/23/2006

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