5. True Life

Jesus goes to Jerusalem where he heals a crippled man. The Jewish authorities become angry because Jesus did this on the Sabbath (5:1-18).

Some time later Jesus went up to Jerusalem to take part in one of the Jewish festivals. In the city, near the Sheep Gate, is a pool that in Aramaic is called Bethesda. It has five covered porches where a number of invalids used to lie -- the blind, the lame and those withered by disease.

One man beside the pool had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him lying there and knew that he had been in that condition for such a long time, he said to the man, "Would you like to get well?"

"Sir," the man replied, "I don't have anyone to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up. So while I am trying to get to the pool, someone else always gets there before me."

City wall of Jerusalem

Jesus said, "Get up! Pick up your mat and walk!" Right then and there the man was healed. He picked up his mat and started to walk around.

This happened on a Sabbath day, so the Jewish authorities said to the man who had just been healed , "You can't do that! It's against the law for a person to carry his mat on the Sabbath."

"But the man who made me well told me to pick up my mat and walk," he replied.

"Who told you that?" they asked. "Who said to you, 'Pick up your mat and walk?'" The man did not know who had healed him, and Jesus had slipped away into the crowd.

Later on, Jesus found the man in the temple and said to him, "Now that you are well again, don't go on sinning or something worse may happen to you." The man went away and told the Jewish authorities that it was Jesus who had healed him.

Because Jesus kept doing things like this on the Sabbath, the Jewish authorities began to persecute him. So Jesus said to them, "Since my Father continues to do his work, I am free to do my work as well." That made the Jewish authorities try all the harder to kill him. Not only did he continue to break the Sabbath laws, but by referring to God as his Father, he was claiming to be equal with God.

Dead Sea Valley

Jesus is given authority by the Father to act as judge (5:19-30).

"I tell you the truth," said Jesus, "the Son can do nothing on his own initiative. He can do only what he sees the Father doing. Whatever the Father does, the Son does. The Father loves the Son and shows him all that he himself is doing. And greater works than these will he show the Son, so that you may be filled with wonder. Just as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, so also does the Son give life to the ones he chooses.

"The Father himself passes judgment on no one but has made the Son the judge of all, so that everyone should honor the Son as much as they honor him. To withhold honor from the Son is to dishonor the Father who sent him. I tell you the truth, the one who listens to my message and believes the one who sent me, that person has eternal life already. He is no longer headed toward judgment but has moved from the realm of death into life.

"I tell you the truth, the time will come -- in fact, it is already here -- when those who are spiritually dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and if they pay attention to it, they will live. The Father himself is the source of all life and has allowed the Son the same privilege of being a source of life. He has given the Son the authority to act as judge because he is the Son of Man.

"Don't be surprised at this, because the time is coming when every one who has died will hear his voice and come out of their graves. Those who have done what is right will rise to life eternal, but those who have done evil will rise to face judgment.

Herod's Interior Decorating

"I can do nothing on my own initiative. I judge only as God tells me, and this judgment is fair because I am seeking the will of the one who sent me, not trying to please myself."

There are five witnesses to Jesus: God his Father, John the Baptist, Jesus' own miraculous deeds, Scripture, and Moses. The Jewish people who reject him will stand accused by Moses, the very one on whom they have set their hope (5:31-47).

"If I testify on my own behalf, you have no way of knowing if it is true. There is, however, someone who speaks on my behalf, and I know that what he says about me is true. You sent messengers to John the Baptist, and what he said about me is true. Of course, I don't need someone else to validate my claims, but I say these things so that you may be saved. John was a lamp, shining and giving light. And for a time you were willing to rejoice in his light.

"But I have greater evidence than the words of John the Baptist-- specifically, the miraculous deeds I am now doing. They were assigned to me by the Father, and they prove conclusively that the Father has sent me.

"Beyond that, the Father himself, the one who sent me, continues to speak on my behalf. However, you never listen to his voice or are aware of his presence. His word falls upon deaf ears because you refuse to believe in me, the one whom he sent.

"You keep on searching the Scriptures because you think that in them you will find eternal life. These same Scriptures speak about me, but you refuse to come to me in order to have life.

Studying scripture

"I am not looking for your praise, but I know that you have no love for God in your hearts. I have come as a representative of my Father and you won't accept me. But when others come as their own spokesmen, you will accept them. How can you ever believe if it is the praise of one another that you are seeking rather than the praise that comes from God?

"Do not think that I will be the one to accuse you before the Father. Moses will be your accuser, the very one on whom you have set your hope. If you really believed Moses, you would believe me, because it was about me that he wrote. But if you don't believe what he wrote about me, how can you believe the claims I make?"