Bible Study: John 5:1-17

Bible Study

John 5:1-17

St. Mary of the Angels

July 2, 2021

John 5:1: “After this there was a feast of the Jews…”

            There are seven feasts in Old Testament Judaism which correspond to the seven days of creation in Genesis, so collectively they represent the ordered grace (sacramental and liturgical life) that underlies God’s creation and salvation:

            Feast of Passover: Exodus 12:14-18 – The Angel of Death passed over with Christ Jesus being the New Passover.

            Feast of the Unleavened: Exodus 12:15-18 – The old leaven symbolizes sin; therefore, the unleavened is life cleansed from sin.

            Feast of the First Fruits: Exodus 23:19 – Celebrated the first Sunday after Passover with the Resurrected Christ Jesus being the First Fruit of the New Creation.

            Feast of Pentecost: Leviticus 23:15-21 – The offering of the two loaves is the coming together in the Church of Jew and Gentile, as the Holy Spirit descends upon the multitude and so inaugurates the Father’s Kingdom as open for all men.

            Feast of the Trumpets: Leviticus 23:23-25 – Also known as Rosh Hashanah, this is the beginning of the New Year and commemorates the birth of Adam. Some Christians associate this with the Second Coming of the Resurrected Christ Jesus.

            Feast of Atonement: Leviticus 16:30 and 23:26-29 – When the Priest makes atonement for the sins of Israel. This is fulfilled when in the Second Coming Christ Jesus judges the sheep from the goats and cleanses the sheep from the last vestiges of their sinful past.

            Feast of Tabernacles: Leviticus 26:23,41-42 – When God protected Israel in the wilderness (God Himself being the tabernacles for His chosen people). This is fulfilled when God protects His cleansed sheep on the way to the New Jerusalem.

John 5:3: “waiting for the moving of the water” refers back to Genesis 1:2 (“the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters”) – God caresses and protects even before He acts, and it is the weak (impotent folk, blind, halt, withered) who are waiting for Him with the comfort of knowing He is near them and will act for them.

John 5:4: “For an angel went down…and troubled the water” – See 2 Kings 4:42-44: There is famine in the land and so a great need for God’s direct intercession. And yet the water is undrinkable at first. The Prophet Elisha (a “messenger” from God and so like an angel) adds bread to the water, and it becomes drinkable – So a “messenger” from God will intercede to make water what it needs to be to sanctify unclean men.

John 5:4: “whosoever…stepped in was made whole” – See 2 Kings 5:10 – Naaman, a King who is not a Jew, is told to step into the water to be cleansed of his disease. He balks at first, but his servant urges him to follow Elisha’s instruction. So God at times will cleanse a man outside of His chosen people not as a reflection of that man’s faith (Naaman not yet exhibiting faith before he went into the Jordan River), but as a way of inspiring faith (Naaman becoming faithful to Judaism after he is cleansed). So God, therefore, acts with generosity and sometimes outside of His ordained, sacramental, ordered Kingdom.

John 5:5-8: Christ Jesus intercedes before the lame man asks for Him. Indeed, when asked, the lame man does not acknowledge faith that Christ Jesus can do anything for him, but rather states what Christ Jesus already knows – namely, that he has not been able all these years to get himself into the troubled water in time to be healed. So in this case, it is not faith that sets the man free, as is usually the case with such miracles, but rather the man’s freedom (the result of divine generosity) that then inspires his faith.

John 5:9-13: The lame man, now able to walk, is confronted by the Jewish elders for breaking the Sabbath. It is here that the man asserts his new faith by standing firm for the Man who healed him. Note that the emphasis on the Sabbath is not true piety, for the Jewish elders should rejoice that the man is now healed. Their sacramental and liturgical order has become for them a kind of idol. Christ Jesus acts outside of that order – healing on the Sabbath day and urging the man to take up his bed and to walk even knowing that that would be contrary to the Sabbath day rule – because God is not subject to the Church. It is the other way around, and when we lose sight of that then the Church herself becomes a kind of idol.

John 5:14: “Jesus findeth him in the temple…” – God finds you, when you cannot find Him. His generosity exceeds everything. Grace triumphs over Law. This is the New Temple, the Life of God and His children in His Son, and we this New Temple totally expressed in this singular moment between Christ Jesus and the healed man.

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

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

In these lay a great multitude of impotent folk, of blind, halt, withered, waiting for the moving of the water.

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.

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

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?

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.

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

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.

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

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.

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.

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

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

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


Published by Michael Sean Erickson

I write, act, and produce films in Los Angeles. Everything else is conjecture.

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