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5. Life Through the Son

After this there was a feast of the Jews; and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. 2Now there is at Jerusalem by the sheep market a pool, which is called in the Hebrew tongue Bethesda, having five porches. 3In these lay a great multitude of impotent folk, of blind, halt, withered, waiting for the moving of the water. 4For 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. 5And a certain man was there, which had an infirmity thirty and eight years. 6When 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? 7The 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. 8Jesus saith unto him, Rise, take up thy bed, and walk. 9And immediately the man was made whole, and took up his bed, and walked: and on the same day was the sabbath.

10The Jews therefore said unto him that was cured, It is the sabbath day: it is not lawful for thee to carry thy bed. 11He answered them, He that made me whole, the same said unto me, Take up thy bed, and walk. 12Then asked they him, What man is that which said unto thee, Take up thy bed, and walk? 13And he that was healed wist not who it was: for Jesus had conveyed himself away, a multitude being in that place. 14Afterward 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. 15The man departed, and told the Jews that it was Jesus, which had made him whole. 16And therefore did the Jews persecute Jesus, and sought to slay him, because he had done these things on the sabbath day.

17But Jesus answered them, My Father worketh hitherto, and I work. 18Therefore 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. 19Then answered Jesus and said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do: for what things soever he doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise. 20 For the Father loveth the Son, and sheweth him all things that himself doeth: and he will shew him greater works than these, that ye may marvel. 21 For as the Father raiseth up the dead, and quickeneth them; even so the Son quickeneth whom he will. 22 For the Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son: 23 That all men should honour the Son, even as they honour the Father. He that honoureth not the Son honoureth not the Father which hath sent him. 24 Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life. 25 Verily, verily, I say unto you, The hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God: and they that hear shall live. 26 For as the Father hath life in himself; so hath he given to the Son to have life in himself; 27 And hath given him authority to execute judgment also, because he is the Son of man. 28 Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, 29 And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation. 30 I can of mine own self do nothing: as I hear, I judge: and my judgment is just; because I seek not mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent me. 31 If I bear witness of myself, my witness is not true.

32 There is another that beareth witness of me; and I know that the witness which he witnesseth of me is true. 33 Ye sent unto John, and he bare witness unto the truth. 34 But I receive not testimony from man: but these things I say, that ye might be saved. 35 He was a burning and a shining light: and ye were willing for a season to rejoice in his light.

36 But I have greater witness than that of John: for the works which the Father hath given me to finish, the same works that I do, bear witness of me, that the Father hath sent me. 37 And the Father himself, which hath sent me, hath borne witness of me. Ye have neither heard his voice at any time, nor seen his shape. 38 And ye have not his word abiding in you: for whom he hath sent, him ye believe not.

39 Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me. 40 And ye will not come to me, that ye might have life. 41 I receive not honour from men. 42 But I know you, that ye have not the love of God in you. 43 I am come in my Father’s name, and ye receive me not: if another shall come in his own name, him ye will receive. 44 How can ye believe, which receive honour one of another, and seek not the honour that cometh from God only? 45 Do not think that I will accuse you to the Father: there is one that accuseth you, even Moses, in whom ye trust. 46 For had ye believed Moses, ye would have believed me: for he wrote of me. 47 But if ye believe not his writings, how shall ye believe my words?

44. How can you believe? As it might be thought harsh to say that those who were from their childhood the trained disciples of the Law and the Prophets, should be charged with such gross ignorance and declared to be enemies of the truth, and as this might even be thought to be incredible, Christ shows what it is that hinders them from believing. It is because ambition has deprived them of sound judgment; for he speaks, in a peculiar manner, to the priests and scribes, who, swelled with pride, could not obey God. This is a remarkable passage, which teaches that the gate of faith is shut against all whose hearts are preoccupied by a vain desire of earthly glory. For he who wishes to be somebody in the world must become wandering and unsteady, so that he will have no inclination towards God. Never is a man prepared to obey the heavenly doctrine, until he is convinced that his principal object, throughout his whole life, ought to be, that he may be approved by God.

But it may be thought that the wicked confidence, by which hypocrites exalt themselves in the presence of God, is a greater obstacle than worldly ambition; and we know that this was also a disease with which the scribes were deeply infected. The answer is easy; for Christ intended to tear from them the false mask of sanctity, by which they deceived the ignorant multitude. He therefore points, as with the finger, to the grosser vice, by which it may be made manifest to all that nothing is farther from their true character than what they wished to be reckoned. Besides, though hypocrisy exalts itself against God, still, in the world and before men, it is always ambitious; nay, more, it is this vanity alone that swells us with false presumption, when we rely more on our own judgment, and that of others, than on the judgment of God. He who in reality presents himself before God as his Judge, must, of necessity, fall down humbled and dismayed, and finding nothing in himself on which he can place reliance. 113113     “Et ne sentant rien en soy-mesme sur quoy il se puisse appuyer.” So, then, in order that any man may seek glory from God alone, he must be overwhelmed with shame, and flee to the undeserved mercy of God. And, indeed, they who look to God see that they are condemned and ruined, and that nothing is left to them in which they can glory but the grace of Christ. The desire of such glory will always be attended by humility.

So far as relates to the present passage, Christ’s meaning is, that there is no other way in which men can be prepared for receiving the doctrine of the Gospel, than by withdrawing all their senses from the world, and turning them to God alone, and seriously considering that it is with God that they have to do, that, forgetting the flatteries by which they are accustomed to deceive themselves, they may descend into their own consciences. We need not wonder, therefore, if the Gospel in the present day find so few persons willing to be taught, since all are carried away by ambition. Nor need we wonder if many apostatize from the profession of the Gospel, for they are hurried away by their own vanity and fly off. So much the more earnestly ought we to seek this one thing, that, while we are mean and despised in the eyes of the world, and even overwhelmed within ourselves, we may be reckoned among the children of God.


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