John 5

1 John identifies three Passovers explicitly, so this is probably one of the other festivals held throughout the Jewish year.
2 This place has been found at a site that would have been just north of the Temple. Bethesda probably means "House of Olives."
3 John 5:3b and 5:4 are missing from the oldest known texts. It is possible that the first readers were familiar with Bethesda, but later readers needed more information. As such, it is not clear if this verse explains an actual angelic occurrence, or a superstition. The latter is more likely.
4 The generic nature of this "miracle" occurrence is very different than any other miracle recorded in scripture. This gives credence to the idea that it was just a superstition.
5 When people are in danger or suffering, they want instant relief. Some people wait on God for a while, but later give up when it seems that nothing is happening. This man could be considered a picture of patient persistence. If you are suffering either physically or circumstantially, how long are you willing to have faith that God will help? For many of us, we will not be completely healed until the resurrection.
6 Jesus had supernatural knowledge about this man's condition. Jesus' question sounds odd, but we might consider that some people prefer the pity of others than the responsibility that wellness would bring. Alternatively, when one has been sick for so long, one wonders how he might cope with being "normal."
7 We are not told what kind of illness the man had, but it is apparent that he could not move himself. Others must have brought him to the pool, perhaps every day. We are not told how many "missed opportunities" this man had to get well. It is clear, however, that he considered this his only hope.
8 Jesus does not preach a sermon, nor does he command an angel to touch the water. Instead, Jesus gives him a test of faith. The man has not been able to walk for 38 years, and Jesus simply tells him to get up. The choice was up to the man now. Would he believe that Jesus could just command that he be healed?

Notice that Jesus did not heal any of the other people. Jesus did this special thing for this one man because He had a lesson to teach the man and the "religious" people. God has a time and a place for everything. Some people He will heal in this lifetime and others He will not. In either case, the person must continue to depend on God. He does promise a reward for faith that is better than having a whole body on earth.

9 Without question or argument, the man simply gets up and walks.
10 The Jews, probably Pharisees, tell the man he can not carry his mat. This is not a real law, but the Pharisees saw this as "work," and work was prohibited on the Sabbath (Exo 20:8-10). Of course, the Law referred to profitable gain and labors that would distract the person from God.
11 The man may not have known how to answer for this supposedly illegal act. It sounds like he is saying that he was only carrying his mat because someone else told him to. Since the man was healed on the Sabbath, he had no reason to disobey the "command" to carry his mat.
12 The Pharisees seem to ignore the miraculous healing and focus on the "severe" violation of the Law. This is a case of warped priorities.
13 Apparently, the man did not ask Jesus His name.
14 Jesus' comments make it clear that there are far worse things than being paralyzed for life. If one does not repent from sin, he is endangering his eternal life. Since the command is "stop sinning," the man apparently was engaged in some unstated sin despite his infirmity.
15 We can not be certain what the man's motivation was in telling the Jews that Jesus healed him. The man may have been overjoyed and could not help but tell everyone about Jesus while being unaware that the religious leaders were looking to persecute Him. It also is possible that the Pharisees had intimidated the man into "tattling." We would hope based on the man's condition and show of faith that it was the former.
16 The Pharisees were so blinded by their traditional laws that they could not see the miracle of God. Not only was Jesus "working" by healing people on the Sabbath, He was also telling others they could do "work," like carrying a mat. Their murderous desire was apparently based in part on Num 15:32-36, but it also became clear that the leaders were both jealous of and threatened by Jesus' ministry.
17 God rested from His Creation work on the seventh day, but there is not indication that God rested again after that. God "works" every day as He interacts with His creation. Jesus then, being one with the Father, works as well. God supercedes the laws He establishes for people. The Sabbath rest was meant for people, not God.
18 There was not mistake to the Jews. Jesus was equating Himself with God. If an ordinary man had claimed this, it would be considered blasphemy, and was punishable by death. They did not know, however, that Jesus, being the Son of God and the Messiah, was indeed a member of the Godhead.
19 Jesus does not attempt to describe the Trinity to them, but simply explains that as the Son of God, He is obedient to the Father's will. The Son and Father work together. Further, Jesus emphasizes that He can not do anything without the Father's instruction. Such synchronization indicates that the Father and Son are the same Being.
20 Jesus emphasizes the perfect love relationship that exists between Himself and the Father. Jesus also indicates that this miraculous "work" was minor in comparison to things he would do in the future. Specifically, if we contrast the physical healing of one man with the spiritual healing of all believers through faith, we see that greater things were in store.
21 Again, pointing to His future death and resurrection, Jesus explains that not only can the Father raise the dead (a "greater work"), but He will also give authority to the Son to give eternal life to all who believe in Him.
22 If that were not enough, the Father has already decided to give the responsibility of judging the world's sins to Jesus. Jesus is the best Man for the job because the criterion for salvation is one's relationship with Him.
23 Being a co-equal with the Father, Jesus deserves the same honor that the Father receives. His position as final Judge will guarantee Him that honor.
24 One must accept Jesus' message and believe that the Father sent Him for this purpose to experience salvation. Since the Christian has a relationship with the Judge and has already accepted the salvation made available through His death on the cross, we are exempt from judgement. Though we were dead in our sins and will physically die, our relationship with Jesus assures us that death will not be permanent. Likewise our separation from God is no more, and we will live with Him forever.
25 Starting with Jesus' ministry, those dead in their sins but accept Jesus' message will live. It is also implied that those who have physically died and had faith in God's promised Messiah will also hear Him and be raised to life again.
26 Life comes from the Father, but He has delegated that authority to Jesus. We see the first life-giving work of Jesus in creation. We see it again in the spiritual life that He gives to those who have faith in Him. We will also see this power culminate in the resurrection of the dead.
27 Again, Jesus emphasizes that He will be the final Judge, and eternal life will be given based on His Judgement alone.
28 The Jews were astonished at the authority that Jesus was claiming for Himself. Jesus assured them that they should not be surprised, because it would indeed happen.
29 Jesus indicates that both the good and the bad will have a resurrection. This implies that the soul of every person is immortal. However, the contrast is in the eternal destination for each person. Those who have done good will live with God and will truly be living. Those who have done badly will exist eternally, but they will be separated from God, His love, and everything good. Such an existence can not be considered life. It is eternal condemnation.
30 Again, Jesus emphasizes that His work and His judgement come from the Father. He does not act alone.
31 The Law of Moses required two or three witnesses to convict a person of a crime (Deu 19:15). It appears that the same principle was also applied to positive claims of proof. A person could testify about himself as a witness, but in order for his testimony to be accepted as valid, it must agree with someone else's testimony.
32 Jesus is one witness that gives testimony about Himself. John the Baptist was another witness that gave testimony about Jesus. If the Jews really followed the Law of Moses, they would have been persuaded that Jesus was the Messiah.
34 Jesus qualifies His argument here. Since Jesus is God, He does not need the testimony of people to prove it. It is true whether people accept it or not. However, Jesus points John the Baptist's message out because it fulfills the requirements of the Scriptures.
36 The primary purpose of John the Baptist's ministry was to point people to Jesus. Jesus would accomplish the work of God, that is, the salvation work to be made available to the world.
37 The Father also testifies on Jesus' behalf, but the religious leaders themselves are so separated from God that they can not hear Him.
39 The Jews did have the Scriptures, but they did not understand that the Scriptures spoke of Jesus. In other words, the Scriptures are a valid testimony, but the Jews did not understand what the testimony was telling them.
40 The religious leaders deliberately chose to ignore the evidence. For whatever their reasons, they refused to believe that God would send the Messiah to have the kind of ministry that Jesus had. They had a preconceived notion of what the Messiah "should" be. Since Jesus did not work as they expected, they chose to reject Him rather than rethink their position.
41 Jesus receives honor from God whether people choose to honor Him or not. Jesus' ministry and work will not be vindicated by the faith of people. Instead, the faith of people will be vindicated when Jesus' work is brought to completion.
42 The Jews would adamantly claim that they love God. However, Jesus knew that on the inside they did not. The primary evidence is that they did not accept Jesus' ministry. His ministry was completely in line with God's will. Thus, by rejecting Jesus' ministry, they rejected God's will. When one rejects God's will, he can not validly claim to love God.
43 Even more astonishingly, the Jews would not accept Jesus' ministry despite the ample evidence that it came with the authority of God. It was (and still is) common to honor people who seemed to have great knowledge and accomplishments. However, they would not honor the One who had all this and God's authority as well.
45 The religious leaders did not think it was possible that Jesus would really stand in judgement on them. However, Jesus explains that even if He were not the Judge, they would be condemned by Moses. This would have been a startling statement since the entire Jewish culture was based on the Law of Moses.
46 Moses wrote of Jesus and said that the people should listen to Him (Deu 18:15). The ministry of Jesus is also pictured in the sacrificial laws and in the various trials and blessings the Jews went through in the wilderness. Jesus is the embodiment of Moses' words and the additional works of the prophets.
47 Some of the Jews were intent on following the Law of Moses to the letter. However, in the process they lost sight of the purpose and meaning of the Law. The Law is about our relationship with God and was never intended to be an end in itself. Ungodly people could follow the letter of the law and never become close to God. That is the very thing that happened to these Jews. In fact, they became so focused on the requirements of the Law that they did not recognize God when they saw Him.