Being Equal To God

Photo by JJ Jordan:

John 5:1-4 After this there was a feast of the Jews; and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. 2 Now there is at Jerusalem by the sheep market a pool, which is called in the Hebrew tongue Bethesda, having five porches. 3 In these lay a great multitude of impotent folk, of blind, halt, withered, waiting for the moving of the water. 4 For 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.

We start with the words After this. In John chapter four Jesus presented Himself as Messiah to a Samaritan woman of Sychar. The woman went to Sychar and told others that she met the Messiah. This in turn led the populace of Sychar to invite Jesus to come and stay with them. Revival broke out. Jesus left Sychar, and entering Cana of Galilee our Lord met a nobleman whose son was sick unto death.

Faith follows God. True faith does what God says do. Faith does not add to or take away from God’s Word, but glorifies God by obediently following Him.

We have seen what faith looks like. Now we see the faith of Jesus. We read:

John 5:1 After this there was a feast of the Jews; and Jesus went up to Jerusalem.

Though Jesus Christ is “God with us, Emmanuel” (Matthew 1:22-23; Isaiah 7:14), when He entered humanity He became subject to the same God that we are subject to. God told Moses to tell Israel,

Leviticus 23:1-2 … speak to the Israelites and say to them, “these are My appointed feasts, the appointed feasts of Yahweh, which you are to proclaim as sacred assemblies …

Though Israel had a weekly Sabbaths (on Saturday), there were seven Feasts also called High or Special Sabbaths. These were:

Passover (Exodus 12:1-4; Leviticus 23:5)
Unleavened Bread (Exodus 12:15-20, 39; Leviticus 23:6-8)
Firstfruits (Exodus 23:19; 34:26; Leviticus 23:9-14)
Weeks or Pentecost (Exodus 23:16; Leviticus 23:15-21)
Trumpets (Leviticus 23:23-25)
Day of Atonement (Leviticus 16:1-34; 23:26-32)
Tabernacles or Booths (Exodus 23:16; Leviticus 23:33-38; 39-43)

The Feasts Reminded Israel Of God’s Grace

Jesus went to Jerusalem to celebrate one of these Feasts. As the Son of God, He honored the Father by obediently going to Jerusalem for the Feast. As Jesus Christ, the “Lamb of God” (John 1:29, 36) enters Jerusalem heading toward the Temple, He goes by the sheep market to the pool of “Bethesda. The name bēthesda means “house of mercy or house of kindness”. During the Biblical Feasts the children of Israel are supposed to be celebrating the goodness of God. The Feasts normally start with special Sabbaths so that people do not need to work, but instead take that time to remember the goodness of God. This should be a happy time.

Word Study: As Jesus comes to Bethesda we read that there are five porches. This is significant. In the Scripture, FIVE is the number of Grace. There are FIVE PORCHES or flat areas around this pool that people are laying on. These people are called a great multitude of impotent folk. The word impotent is the Greek astheneō, which means “weak, diseased, without strength, powerless”. This great multitude of people were absolutely helpless. They could do nothing to change the situation they were in. These people were not looking upward to God. They Bible says that they were:

John 5:3-4 … waiting for the MOVING OF THE WATER, 4 for 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 …

These people were looking for the stirring of the waters to heal themselves. The Bible says that it was an Angel that stirred the water. I just want you to remember that not all angels are from God, and one of the greatest angels ever created is the most evil being there ever was. Lucifer, the angel we call Satan, caused an uprising in Heaven, and led a third of the angels there to rebel against God. I don’t have a problem believing that an angel stirred that water, because I believe it was one of Satan’s fallen who enticed people to stare at that pool. I don’t have a problem believing that the devil or one of his demons was the agent who stirred this water.

The devil’s desire is to kill, steal, and destroy anything that brings God glory. The devil did this in the Garden of Eden with a fruit, and is distracting God’s people into looking at the water in Bethesda.

God tells us in Isaiah 45:22-24 Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God, and there is none else. 23 I have sworn by myself, the word is gone out of my mouth in righteousness, and shall not return, That unto me every knee shall bow, every tongue shall swear. 24 Surely, shall one say, in the Lord have I righteousness and strength: even to him shall men come; and all that are incensed against him shall be ashamed.

As humans we want to look unto other things to be saved, to be cured of what ails us. There is nothing else! When these people were without strength, they should have been looking upward to God. The Grace of God says:

Romans 5:6 For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.

John 5:5-6 And a certain man was there, which had an infirmity thirty and eight years. 6 When 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?

Though there was a MULTITUDE of people laying on these five porches of Bethesda, Jesus singles out one person to approach. Why did Jesus come to this man, and not the others? The Bible malkes it a point to tell us that this man had been without strength thirty and eight years. Thirty eight is a significant number in the Bible. Two years after leaving Egypt, following God by Pillar of Fire and Pillar of Cloud, Israel sent ten spies into the Promised Land . Their task was to bring back an encouraging word to Israel that our God is True to His Promises (Numbers 13:17-20). What did the spies do? They searched the land for 40 days (Numbers 13:25), and though they returned with a report that the land was indeed bountiful, they said:

Numbers 13:31-32 We be not able to go up against the people; for they are stronger than we. … And they brought up an evil report of the land which they had searched unto the children of Israel …

Their evil report robbed God of His glory! The people of Israel, instead of trusting God and entering the Promised Land, murmured against God and mocked Him, saying,

Numbers 14:3 … wherefore hath the LORD brought us unto this land, to fall by the sword, that our wives and our children should be a prey? were it not better for us to return into Egypt?

Because of Israel’s faithlessness and failure to honor God, the Lord causes Israel to wander in the wilderness an additional 38 years (Deuteronomy 2:14).

All of the men of war died out. The second generation of Israel that went into the Promised Land were in effect without strength, and totally dependent on God. This man that Jesus went to is a mini parable of Israel. Israel kept their eyes on THINGS instead of GOD, and lost the blessing of God. This man is absolutely and totally without hope, without strength. There is no way he is going to get in that water! Jesus asks:

John 5:6 Wilt thou be made whole?

Do you really want to be made whole? Do you really want to enter the Promised Land? The man replies:

John 5:7 The impotent (astheneō, without strength) 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.

The man is without hope. No one will help him get into the water. The water cannot save him. How can he be saved? He must choose to listen to Jesus and Jesus only. He cannot listen to the world, for the world tells him that his hope is in the water. He cannot listen to his neighbor, for his neighbor is focused on his own needs. Jesus speaks:

John 5:8 Jesus saith unto him, Rise, take up thy bed, and walk.

What is interesting in this command is that Jesus tells the man to do three things that he cannot possibly do. He says,

Take up your bed

This is not the only time Jesus will do this. When Jesus goes to Nazareth to minister the Bible tells us:

Matthew 9:2-7 … behold, they brought to {Jesus} a man sick of the palsy, lying on a bed: and Jesus seeing their faith said unto the sick of the palsy; Son, be of good cheer; thy sins be forgiven thee. 3 And, behold, certain of the scribes said within themselves, This man blasphemeth. 4 And Jesus knowing their thoughts said, Wherefore think ye evil in your hearts? 5 For whether is easier, to say, Thy sins be forgiven thee; or to say, Arise, and walk? 6 But that ye may know that the Son of man hath power on earth to forgive sins, (then saith he to the sick of the palsy,) Arise, take up thy bed, and go unto thine house. 7 And he arose, and departed to his house.

The man who was paralyzed was in that state because he had sinned against God. When Jesus told the man YOUR SINS ARE FORGIVEN YOU, He put Himself in the place of God. The only One Who can forgive sin is God. When the Pharisees accused Jesus of blasphemy (dishonoring God), Jesus told the man, Arise, take up thy bed, AND WALK. The same thing is happening at Bethesda. This man is sick, totally unable to walk or get about for 38 years. Why? Because he failed to walk with God. Now God the Son comes to Him and says:

John 5:8 Rise, take up thy bed, and walk.

Your sins have been forgiven you. That which crippled you is gone. Get up, and cross the Jordan. Walk with God. As Jesus said these words, the man is immediately healed. We read:

John 5:9 And immediately the man was made whole, and took up his bed, and walked: and on the same day was the sabbath.

Those Who Are Saved Follow
Heed The Lord Jesus

This man has been made whole by God the Son. The Pharisees should have rejoiced that he was healed. Were they? No! We read:

John 5:10-13 The Jews therefore said unto him that was cured, It is the sabbath day: it is not lawful for thee to carry thy bed. 11 He answered them, He that made me whole, the same said unto me, Take up thy bed, and walk. 12 Then asked they him, What man is that which said unto thee, Take up thy bed, and walk? 13 And he that was healed wist not who it was: for Jesus had conveyed himself away, a multitude being in that place.

Anytime you see the phrase The Jews in John’s writings, it is always a reference to the Pharisees. The Pharisees took the clearly written Law of God and added their own traditions to it. There is nothing in Scripture that says that bedding cannot be carried on the Sabbath day (and this was a special Sabbath). The intent of the Sabbath was to restrict labor, so that people would take time to remember the goodness and Grace of God. Jesus told us:

Matthew 5:17 (ESV) Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.

Jesus would not have told this man to Take up thy bed if it was a violation of the Sabbath. It was only human customs and add-ons that were being broken. When the man related that it was “a Man” who told him to pick up his bed and walk, the Pharisees wanted to know which “man” told him to do this. He couldn’t tell them, because,

for Jesus had conveyed himself away

Had the people around Bethesda seen and processed that Jesus healed this man, our Lord would have been overwhelmed by people demanding healing. In this particular instance during this particular miracle Jesus is illustrating the nature of sin.

Sin leads us into misery, then cripples us.
Jesus can fix sin’s destruction – but you must hear Jesus.
Sin even invades and twists the Law of God.

God calls us out of sin not by our own hand, but by the hand of Christ. Jesus will save whosoever will hear Him. But you must look to Jesus, not to the water or the Pharisees. You must call upon the Name of the Lord.

John 5:14-15 Afterward 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. 15 The man departed, and told the Jews that it was Jesus, which had made him whole.

Jesus Christ is the “Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world” (John 1:29). But Jesus is also the the Savior, Christ THE LORD” (Luke 2:11). Jesus was called JESUS because He SHALL SAVE HIS PEOPLE FROM THEIR SINS. Saving this man from whatever sin had debilitated him, Jesus told the man,

sin no more, lest a worse thing
come unto thee

What can be worst than 38 years of paralysis? I don’t know. But whatever it is, I don’t want it. The Bible tells us that

John 5:16-18 And therefore did the Jews persecute Jesus, and sought to slay him, because he had done these things on the sabbath day. 17 But Jesus answered them, My Father worketh hitherto, and I work. 18 Therefore 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.

The Pharisees added to the Law of God their own traditions – then threatened to kill anyone who did not measure up to their standards. Those who are lost often use the “Law” to justify their actions. God calls the Christian to follow Him, to be like Christ in all that we say and do. Jesus told the Pharisees:

My Father worketh hitherto, and I work

We are called to glorify God daily in all that we say and do. The Child of God works for God. Are you working for God? Are you living your life to bring glory to Him Who saved you? May God the Holy Spirit draw you close to Jesus today. Live for the smile of God. Amen and Amen.

About bibleteacherorg

A searching Pastor, I am looking for a people who love the Lord and love one another. Daily I pray for the Church. Most of what the world sees today is not the Church, but clubs pretending to be the Church. God is calling to Himself a people willing to be righteous, not self righteous, serving not served. I am called to pastor God's people, those who want to change the world by willingly and willfully following Jesus Christ. Only God is able to change the world, and we must follow His Christ. He is able! Praise His Name! Come quickly Lord Jesus!
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