Gospel of John Sunday School | Week 15

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Notes on John 5:1-16

Therefore many other signs Jesus also performed in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these have been written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name.

John 20:30-31

While Jesus’ miracles are often seen as the highlights of His earthly ministry, the gospels make it clear that they were performed and consequently recorded in order to point to His message. The supernatural provision of healing, nourishment, and even life for those Jesus ministered to was always meant to confirm His teaching about His kingdom. The gospel writers usually structure the narrative so that we readily recognize this.

In John 5, the healing of the lame man is really only one of three important elements in the account:

  • Jesus miraculously heals a man who was lame for 38 years.
  • Jesus warns this man that his sin should be his greatest concern.
  • Jesus is targeted by the Jewish authorities for breaking Sabbath law.

While the astonishing and instantaneous healing leads the narrative, the focus quickly shifts to Jesus’ stern warning of “Behold, you have become well; do not sin anymore, so that nothing worse happens to you” (14). This demonstrates the greatest concern of God. He cares for our bodies and will provide total healing when Jesus returns, but at present concern for spiritual healing and wellness ought to supersede the physical.

As a bit of an aside, Jesus here confirms that personal sin can lead to consequences. However, it is important to have a full-orbed view of this issue. Jesus also reminds His disciples that sometimes bad things happen to good people through no fault of their own (John 9:1-3, Luke 13:1-5). It would be appropriate to say that sin can lead to sickness and death, but sickness and death aren’t always the result of a specific sin. All sickness and death is the result of sin in general, and that again is the purpose of Jesus’ message and mission.

Jesus was obviously aware of who this man that He healed was. His specific knowledge of the man’s condition (6) and subsequent warning (14) show that Jesus saw the man was struggling with much more than a disability. In line with this assessment, the man left Jesus to point Him out to the Jewish authorities.

Consequently, the Jews began to harass Jesus more. His miracle took place on the Sabbath, but such works were not prohibited by the Mosaic Law. The additional laws were abominable to God, and Jesus both ignored and criticized them (Luke 11:37-52).

There is much to take away from a passage such as this. On their own, the three aforementioned points all offer applications regarding Jesus’ ministry and man’s response. One common thread that links all three is the centrality of the gospel. The gospel is central in this narrative, and each point to that truth:

  • Jesus’ healing of the lame man, like His other miracles, was meant to point him and others to His teaching.
  • Jesus’ warning emphasized that spiritual healing was more important than physical healing.
  • Jesus’ accusers were using the law to control, rather than direct people to their reliance upon God.

The gospel is the answer to all of these issues. John records this account purposefully, and we need to be astute in reading it as a wonderful reminder regarding the primacy and centrality of the gospel.

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