A Guide to Reading the Gospel of John (8)
The Light Shines in the Darkness
Beginning in chapter 5 and continuing through chapter 12, Jesus is in direct confrontation with the religious leaders of Judaism. John is the only apostle to record these lengthy discourses, and he records them after a “lifetime of meditation.” (William Temple) The outlook of the Jewish leaders is irreconcilable with Jesus. Their choice is either to accept Him as Lord and Savior or to put Him to death. The religious leaders’ attacks grow stronger and sharper, and unbelief grows among the people; yet the powers of darkness in these people cannot overcome Jesus! (See John 1:5)
But these chapters also reveal Jesus’ intimacy with His Father and His compassion for all of God’s people. We should meditate on them as John did before he wrote his Gospel.
The Healing at the Pool of Bethesda (John 5:1-29)
Multitudes of sick people — blind, lame, paralyzed, lay around the pool, forced to be alert to the moving of the waters that brought about a cure for those who could immediately immerse themselves in the pool. Jesus was not disturbed by this superstition; rather He was attracted to them because of their tragic situation and because they still had not lost their desire to be made well.
One man had been there 38 years! Use your imagination to try to understand his loneliness and despair, his long days and nights of darkness, yet his continuing hope for healing. His is almost like a microcosm, compared to the macrocosm of the nations of the world that are like invalids still hoping to be healed. Korea is in a similar situation.
Remember that good study always includes asking questions of the text.
Do you want to be healed? Why do you think Jesus asked this question?
Ronald Wallace once said that to this man, the pool had become what the Temple next door had become to many of its diligent members — “a place of uneventful and unbroken ritual.” Can this happen in the Church today?
After healing the man and meeting him later in the temple, what did Jesus say to him? Why do you think He said that?
Why do you think Jesus performed this miracle on the Sabbath?
What did Jesus mean when He said, “My Father is working until now, and I am working?”
Take time to evaluate the confrontation between Jesus and the Jewish leaders, especially in John 5:15-29.
“ . . . He was breaking the Sabbath . . . He was even calling God His Father . . . making Himself equal with God . . . whoever does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent Him . . . as the Father has life in Himself, so He has granted the Son also to have life in Himself . . .”
Witnesses to Jesus (John 5:30-47)
Consider the 5 witnesses to Jesus Christ in this passage. Do you find them convincing?
Jesus’ Intimacy With His Father
The most important thing we can learn from chapter 5 is Jesus’ relationship with His Father, because to be a disciple of Jesus means that we also must have the same relationship.
Consider three important things we can learn about being a disciple of Jesus.
- John 5:17 and John 5:19 (Remember Jesus’ words in John 4:34 and think about the work we do.)
- John 5:20 (Why do we need to wait upon the Lord before “rushing to work for Him?”)
- John 5:30 (Jesus inability to do anything on His own . . . Why did He say this? What are the things you can do on your own?)