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Joh 5:1-47. THE IMPOTENT MAN HEALED--DISCOURSE OCCASIONED BY THE PERSECUTION ARISING THEREUPON.
1. a feast of the Jews--What feast? No question has more divided the Harmonists of the Gospels, and the duration of our Lord's ministry may be said to hinge on it. For if, as the majority have thought (until of late years) it was a Passover, His ministry lasted three and a half years; if not, probably a year less. Those who are dissatisfied with the Passover-view all differ among themselves what other feast it was, and some of the most acute think there are no grounds for deciding. In our judgment the evidence is in favor of its being a Passover, but the reasons cannot be stated here.
2, 3. sheep market--The supplement should be (as in Margin)
"sheep [gate]," mentioned in
Ne 3:1, 32.
4. an angel, &c.--This miracle differed in two points from all other miracles recorded in Scripture: (1) It was not one, but a succession of miracles periodically wrought: (2) As it was only wrought "when the waters were troubled," so only upon one patient at a time, and that the patient "who first stepped in after the troubling of the waters." But this only the more undeniably fixed its miraculous character. We have heard of many waters having a medicinal virtue; but what water was ever known to cure instantaneously a single disease? And who ever heard of any water curing all, even the most diverse diseases--"blind, halt, withered"--alike? Above all, who ever heard of such a thing being done "only at a certain season," and most singularly of all, doing it only to the first person who stepped in after the moving of the waters? Any of these peculiarities--much more all taken together--must have proclaimed the supernatural character of the cures wrought. (If the text here be genuine, there can be no doubt of the miracle, as there were multitudes living when this Gospel was published who, from their own knowledge of Jerusalem, could have exposed the falsehood of the Evangelist, if no such cure had been known there. The want of Joh 5:4 and part of Joh 5:3 in some good manuscripts, and the use of some unusual words in the passage, are more easily accounted for than the evidence in their favor if they were not originally in the text. Indeed Joh 5:7 is unintelligible without Joh 5:4. The internal evidence brought against it is merely the unlikelihood of such a miracle--a principle which will carry us a great deal farther if we allow it to weigh against positive evidence).
6. saw him lie, and knew, &c.--As He doubtless visited the spot just
to perform this cure, so He knows where to find His patient, and the
whole previous history of his case
7. Sir, I have no man, &c.--Instead of saying he wished to be
cured, he just tells with piteous simplicity how fruitless had been all
his efforts to obtain it, and how helpless and all but hopeless
he was. Yet not quite. For here he is at the pool, waiting on. It seemed
of no use; nay, only tantalizing,
9. the same day was the sabbath--Beyond all doubt this was intentional, as in so many other healings, in order that when opposition arose on this account men might be compelled to listen to His claims and His teaching.
10-16. The Jews--that is, those in authority. (See on
13. he that was healed wist not, &c.--That some one, with unparalleled
generosity, tenderness and power, had done it, the man knew well enough:
but as he had never heard of Him before, so he disappeared too quickly
for any inquiries.
14. findeth him in the temple--saying, perhaps, "I will go into Thy
house with burnt offerings, I will pay my vows which my lips have
uttered and my mouth hath spoken when I was in trouble"
(Ps 66:13, 14).
Jesus, there Himself for His own ends, "findeth him there"--not all
accidentally, be assured.
15. The man departed, and told, &c.--little thinking how unwelcome his grateful and eager testimony would be. "The darkness received not the light which was pouring its rays upon it" (Joh 1:5, 11) [OLSHAUSEN].
16. because he had done these things on the sabbath day--What to these hypocritical religionists was the doing of the most glorious and beneficent miracles, compared with the atrocity of doing them on the sabbath day! Having given them this handle, on purpose to raise the first public controversy with them, and thus open a fitting opportunity of laying His claims before them, He rises at once to the whole height of them, in a statement which for grandeur and terseness exceeds almost anything that ever afterwards fell from Him, at least to His enemies.
17, 18. My Father worketh hitherto and I work--The "I" is emphatic; "The creative and conservative activity of My Father has known no sabbath-cessation from the beginning until now, and that is the law of My working."
18. God was his Father--literally, "His own [or peculiar]
Father," (as in
The addition is their own, but a very proper one.
19, 20. the Son can do nothing of himself--that is, apart from
and in rivalry of the Father, as they supposed. The meaning is, "The
Son can have no separate interest or action from the Father."
20. Father loveth . . . and showeth him all, &c.--As
love has no concealments, so it results from the perfect fellowship and
mutual endearment of the Father and the Son (see on
whose interests are one, even as their nature, that the Father
communicates to the Son all His counsels, and what has been thus shown
to the Son is by Him executed in His mediatorial character. "With the
Father, doing is willing; it is only the Son who acts
in Time" [ALFORD]. Three things here are
clear: (1) The personal distinctions in the Godhead. (2) Unity
of action among the Persons results from unity of nature.
(3) Their oneness of interest is no unconscious or involuntary thing,
but a thing of glorious consciousness, will, and love, of
which the Persons themselves are the proper Objects.
21-23. raiseth the dead and quickeneth them--one act in two stages.
This is His absolute prerogative as God.
22. For the Father judgeth no man, &c.--rather, "For neither doth the
Father judge any man," implying that the same "thing was meant in the
former verse of the quickening of the dead"--both acts being done, not
by the Father and the Son, as though twice done, but by the Father
through the Son as His voluntary Agent.
23. honour the Son as . . . the Father--As he who believes that Christ
in the foregoing verses has given a true account of His relation to the
Father must of necessity hold Him entitled to the same honor as the
Father, so He here adds that it was the Father's express intention in
making over all judgment to the Son, that men should thus honor Him.
24. believeth on him that sent me--that is, believeth in Him as
having sent Me. I have spoken of the Son's right not only to heal the
sick but to raise from the dead, and quicken whom He will: And now I
say unto you, That life-giving operation has already passed upon all
who receive My words as the Sent of the Father on the great errand
25-29. The hour cometh--in its whole fulness, at Pentecost.
26. given to the Son, &c.--Does this refer to the essential life of the Son before all time (Joh 1:4) (as most of the Fathers, and OLSHAUSEN, STIER, ALFORD, &c., among the moderns), or to the purpose of God that this essential life should reside in the Person of the Incarnate Son, and be manifested thus to the world? [CALVIN, LUCKE, LUTHARDT, &c.] The question is as difficult as the subject is high. But as all that Christ says of His essential relation to the Father is intended to explain and exalt His mediatorial functions, so the one seems in our Lord's own mind and language mainly the starting-point of the other.%%%%