The Gospel of John: John 5.1-15
Read and meditate on John 5.2-5.
We omit verse 4 from our study, because it does not appear in the best ancient manuscripts. We do not possess a single, complete and reliable manuscript of the Greek New Testament. Our modern editions are translated from a composite version which draws from thousands of ancient manuscripts, according to a set of protocols known as textual criticism. Because ancient texts vary and disagree at certain points, it is necessary to apply some procedures for deciding which text to choose. The best use of these procedures suggests that verse 4 should be regarded as perhaps a later marginal explanation that became incorporated into the text, but is not actually part of John’s gospel. Now, let’s look at the situation that confronted Jesus as He arrived at Jerusalem.
2A pool is there
beside the Sheep Gate, called Bethesda, 3where
a multitude of people gathered to
be healed – the sick, blind, lame, or any who
were paralyzed. 5A certain man was there
who had for many years been made to bear
with an infirmity.
- John 4.2-5
1. How much real, historical detail can you identify in these three verses? Why do you suppose John considered it important to supply these details? Does this lend credibility to his account? Explain. Complete this prayer: Lord, Your story occurred in real history, real places, and with real people. In the same way, my calling is…
2. For what were these people hoping? Why? Do people today tend to put more stock in material or spiritual objectives? Explain. What about me, Lord? Help me to see that my hope should be…
3. What does it say about the state of Jewish religion at that time, that “a great multitude of sick people” lay in full view of the crowds (v. 13) who had gathered for the feast, yet their only hope of healing was by some magic of a public pool? Lord, help me today to see the needs that…
4. Meditate on Numbers 1.1 and Deuteronomy 1.1-3. If Israel was camped at Mt. Sinai for two years, how long did they wander in the wilderness? Do you suppose this may have factored into Jesus’ choice of whom among the multitudes at that pool to heal? Or of John’s specific mention or the duration of his suffering? Explain. Lord, there are no insignificant details in Your Word! Help me to read and meditate more carefully, so that…
5. Evidently, the multitudes who came to Jerusalem for the feast had come primarily to get something. What? Jesus, however, came to give something. Is there a danger that we turn religion into a self-serving thing in our day? How can you avoid that happening to you? Bring together into one prayer the prayers you wrote from questions 1-4.
“That pool and that water, in my opinion, signified the people of the Jews. For the Apocalypse of John clearly indicates to us that peoples are suggested by the name of waters. When many waters were shown to him and he asked what they were, he received the answer that they were peoples. Therefore that water, that is, that people was shut in by the five books of Moses as by five porticoes. But those books brought forth sick people; they did not heal. For the law convicted sinners; it did not absolve them.” Augustine (354-430 AD)
The mission of Christ was to seek and save the lost. Sometimes the lost are not the “beautiful people” of the day. But Jesus sought them anyway. Who are the lost people to whom God sends you each day?
Oh, give thanks to the LORD, for He is good!
For His mercy endures forever.
Let the redeemed of the Lord say so,
Whom He has redeemed from the hand of the enemy,
And gathered out of the lands,
From the east and from the west,
From the north and from the south…
Oh, that men would give thanks to the LORD for His goodness,
And for His wonderful works to the children of men!
For He satisfies the longing soul,
And fills the hungry soul with goodness.
Psalm 107.1-3 8, 9
Psalm 107.1-3 (Faithfulness: Great is Thy Faithfulness)
Lord, You are good, we give thanks and we praise You!
Your steadfast love will forever endure.
Let the redeemed, who from trouble You rescue,
Gather and say that Your mercy is sure!
Lord, for Your wondrous works, and for Your steadfast love,
We give You thanks, we exalt Your great Name!
We who from east and west, north and south gather,
Boldly redemption in Christ we proclaim!
T. M. Moore
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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. All psalms for singing adapted from The Ailbe Psalter. All quotations from Church Fathers from Ancient Christian Commentary Series IV a and b: John, edited by Joel C. Elowsky, General Editor Thomas C. Oden (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2006. Verse translation of John by T. M. Moore.