In our last study, Jesus tried to explain to the people that not only had He been sent by God but He was God's Son. And when He told them that God had turned all judgment over to Him they had wanted to put Him to death.
This study begins as Jesus continues His teaching by presenting witnesses to prove that He was, "The Messiah."
This study will also help us to understand the mindset and beliefs of the Jewish people of Jesus time, and why they reacted as they did when Jesus healed the man by the Pool of Bethesda.
The people were probably a mixture of everyday Jewish citizens. Since the pool of Bethesda was next door to the temple there might have been some Pharisee's, and members of the Sanhedrin. The Sanhedrin was the Jewish court, (the equivalent of our present-day lawyers and judges).
Jesus knew that the "Jewish Law" required witnesses for proof. Even in today's courts a person's own testimony is not always considered an acceptable defense.
In the following Scriptures, Jesus leads them through the "Jewish Law," and reveals witnesses to prove that He is, "The Messiah."
Verse 31: "If I alone bear witness about myself, my testimony is not deemed true."
Jesus realized that His testimony did not, of itself, satisfy the requirements of the Jewish Law. This part of the law is found in Dent 17:6; 19:15,
"On the evidence of two witnesses or of three witnesses the one who is to die shall be put to death; a person shall not be put to death on the evidence of one witness," (Deut 17:6).
To the Jews, Jesus' claim that He was the Son of God, was a crime, punishable by death, this eventually led to His execution on the cross.
But, Jesus understood the "Law," and assured them He had witnesses!
Verse 32-33: "There is another who bears witness about me, and I know that the testimony that he bears about me is true." 33"You sent to John, and he has borne witness to the truth."
His first witness was our old friend, from one our previous study, "John the Baptist."
In the original translation (Greek) of this verse when He said "you sent," the 'You,' is said to be an emphatic "you" as in, "YOU" sent!
So He would be saying: (YOU! sent to John, and YOU! know what He told you about me) because "he bore witness as to what is true concerning me."
Some translations of the Bible go on to say "that John the Baptist, was even at that time, continuing to be a witness to the truth.
Although the Jews believed that John the Baptist was a prophet, they wouldn't accept his teaching concerning Jesus.
VERSE 34: "Not that the testimony that I receive is from man, but I say these things so that you may be saved."
Jesus was saying that He didn't need the testimony of John the Baptist, that He was the Messiah. Later in this same discussion, He tells them it was God the Father who had sent Him, and that His ultimate desire was for them to be saved
Jesus Has More to say About John the Baptist:
VERSE 35: He was a burning and shining lamp, and you were willing to rejoice for a while in his light."
John was a bright and shining lamp, everything he did was a light shining on Jesus; illuminating and preparing the way for Him.
And, in the second part of verse 35, they "were willing" for a time to accept John's word/light, but they were unwilling to accept Jesus' offer of salvation.
VERSE 36: "But the testimony that I have is greater than that of John. For the works that the Father has given me to accomplish, the very works that I am doing, bear witness about me that the Father has sent me."
Jesus' personal testimony and the works the Father gave Him to do bore witness of Him and were greater even than John's witness.
We previously learned that Jesus' miracles, or "works" were used as signs. Here, Jesus is saying these signs are witnessing for Him.
Previously in this study, we learned that, when John the Baptist was in prison, he had sent his disciples to ask Jesus if He was the Messiah.
And Matthew 11:4-5 say's "Jesus replied, "Go back and report to John what you hear and see: 5The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is preached to the poor."
Jesus didn't say yes, or no, instead, He told them of the works He had done; because "His works" also testified that He was, "The Son of God."
Jesus Respected the "Jewish Law."
Earlier in this study (John 3:2), Nicodemus had recognized Jesus' miracles, (works), to be signs:
"...No one can do these signs that You do, unless God is with him."
Jesus has now presented two witnesses: John the Baptist, and the miracles
Verse 37: "And the Father who sent me has himself borne witness about me. His voice you have never heard, his form you have never seen,"
Speaking of the "Father's" testimony, Jesus said the Father "has borne witness," as in past tense.
If you remember, Jesus had a very explicit testimony from "God the Father," at the time of His baptism.
Scripture tells Us that Immediately after Jesus' Baptism
"A voice from heaven said, "This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased," (Matt 3:17).
This was the voice of, "God the Father!"
This prophecy is in Psalms 2:7, where God spoke of the anointed King as His Son. In Isaiah 42:1, God addresses His Servant in whom He delights, and upon whom He has put His Spirit.
There are other Scriptures, but just from these, I think we can say that not only was God a witness for Jesus but His best witness!
Jesus must have found great assurance and comfort in God's testimony. That Jesus knew God was with Him became strikingly clear when He said, "And the Father who sent me has himself borne witness about me...
Just as God was with Jesus, so is Jesus with us. "...And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age." (Matt 28:20)
That makes three witnesses, which fully satisfied the requirements of the Jewish law:
John the Baptist -the miracles of Jesus - and God the Father.
But Jesus realized the Jews either wouldn't, or couldn't recognize the 'Father's" testimony, and tells them in verse 37:
"Not one of you has ever given ear to His voice or seen His form (His face--what He is like). [You have always been deaf to His voice and blind to the vision of Him,]" (AMP).
Did you notice the word "always?" "You have always been deaf to His voice and blind to the vision of Him" Doesn't that make you think that Jesus had known them and their forefathers since the beginning of time and that they had always dodged the Word of God?
Jesus set an excellent example of the importance of finding quietness with the God. Scripture tells us that He often went off alone to pray and that He would frequently pray all night. Even on the night of His arrest in the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus separated Himself about the distance of "a stone's throw" from the disciples, (Luke 22:47 ).
He apparently didn't want anything or anyone to prevent Him from hearing from the Father.
If it was valuable to Him, it must be for us. That's the example He set.
Verse 38: "and you do not have his word abiding in you, for you do not believe the one whom he has sent."
He is saying; It is evident that His word is not in you because you don't believe in Me.
Verse 39: You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me
So, here is still another witness: The Scriptures
Jesus had now confronted them with:
1. The witness of John the Baptist
2. The witness of His works (Signs)
3. The witness of God the Father
4. The witness of the Scriptures
Jesus was saying, I know the Scripture, and it told you I would be here, and yet you don't believe it. I am pointing the Scripture out to you, and you won't accept it, to reject me is to disobey the Scriptures.
The Jews were unmistakably picking and choosing which parts of the Scripture to believe. (Of course, none of us would do that, or would we?)
More on That:
Many Scriptures need to be prayed over, researched and (rightly divided), to find what the original writer was saying to the people of his day, and how it applies to us.
But then, there are Scriptures that, for now, are complete mysteries but, at some time in the future will be explained. Many have already been revealed through fulfilled prophesy and archeology.
Many of the prophets in the Old Testament who wrote about Jesus did not see their prophecies fulfilled in their lifetime. Much of what they wrote was shrouded in mysteries, even to them. They merely wrote what the Spirit told them to write.
But now, thousands of years later, we know that the prophetic words they wrote about Jesus were true and correct; because we have the recorded history, and it is just as they prophesied.
Much of our modern world doubted that the "Pool of Bethesda" even existed. In 1956 archaeologists dug it up and saw that it was there, just as the Bible had said.
To those who have learned to rely upon God's Word, the genuine mysteries in the Bible only serve to make it more interesting. We recognize these mysteries, and watch them, (but leave them alone); knowing they will be revealed according to God's timing and purpose because that's His business.
We are to "rightly divide." (correctly translate and interpret God's Word), and then believe and act upon it.
That was the ultimate downfall of the Jews; they just did not believe what the Word of God said.
But Jesus was relentless, wasn't He? He tried and tried to get through to them, and then He said:
Verse 40: "yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life."
Jesus attempted to open their eyes to the Scriptures, and in verse 39 He said, "You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life."
It's sad, isn't it? After all those years of the teachings of the prophets, the miracles God had done for them down through the centuries, they managed to miss the whole event. Since they didn't trust God's Word, they didn't recognize Jesus as the Messiah.
The Jews had lived under the Old Testament. They believed that since they were the descendants of Abraham and observed God's Law, they would go to Heaven.
But they failed to grasp what the prophets had been telling them. The Messiah was coming, and when He arrived, their old covenant/agreement with God would change.
Jesus, the Messiah, came to establish the "New Covenant, but they didn't recognize Him." In this new covenant/agreement, the separation between God and man that had existed since the sin of Adam and Eve could now be ended for any who would accept Him.
Jesus said, ..."I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me"(John 14:6).
In the "New Covenant," which we now live, the only way to get to Heaven is through faith in Jesus and what He did on the cross, by accepting Jesus as Lord and Savior, (John 14:6).
With Jesus came the "New Covenant:" the "Old Covenant" was no longer in effect.
Verse41:"I do not receive glory from people."
Jesus said He did not receive glory from people, meaning that He doesn't recognize it, (it is irrelevant, and has no effect on Him).
Verse 42: "But I know that you do not have the love of God within you."
Any praise or glory He might have received from them would have been meaningless. He knew these men neither knew the love of God or His unchanging Word.
Verse 43: "I have come in my Father’s name, and you do not receive me. If another comes in his own name, you will receive him."
Jesus is just making the statement that He came in the name of the Father, and they didn't receive Him, they rejected Him. Again, this is saying that for them to deny Jesus was a rejection of "God the Father."
Verse 44: "How can you believe, when you receive glory from one another and do not seek the glory that comes from the only God?"
In light of this knowledge, seeking glory from one another instead of from God is incredulous, or maybe even ridiculous. It wouldn't get them to Heaven. Jesus was asking, how is seeking praise from one another going to help you to believe in Me?
It's God whom you need be seeking. The praise, approval, and glory from one another will never get you anything from God. (but that's what they were doing).
I found a Scripture that I think adds clarity to this study. It speaks of the unbelief of these people, and of their fear of being kicked out of the Synagogue, if they had accepted Jesus:
"For they loved the glory that comes from man more than the glory that comes from God," (John 12:43).
If they had acknowledged Jesus' Words, they would have been excommunicated and forced out of the synagogue, a humiliating disgrace they would avoid at any cost. They loved the glory they received from men more than they loved God.
They didn't see God as an all-knowing God that knew every move and word they spoke,
In Verse 45 Jesus changes this exchange from a conversation to a discourse. He was now doing all of the talking, and speaking very sternly.
Verse 45: "Do not think that I will accuse you to the Father. There is one who accuses you: Moses, on whom you have set your hope."
Jesus will not stand as their accuser; their accuser will be the words of Moses, the one who had written the very words they had built their lives around, and on whom they had set their hope. (What a statement)
Ancient Judaism viewed Moses as an intercessor for Israel, but Jesus said that Moses would be their prosecutor. Their condemnation would be in Moses' writings.
Verse 45: "For if you believed Moses, you would believe me; for he wrote of me"
Moses wrote the first five books of the Bible, and most think, "Job," and possibly others, and he was a witness for Jesus in his writings.
Verse 47: "But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe my words?"
Jewish teachers regarded Moses as the central prophet figure for their history, and as Israel's lawgiver. (God, wrote the "Law," some would say, in the presence of Moses).
Doesn't it seem that at this point Jesus would just throw in the towel and give up on these people? We might, but He didn't; which is a perfect example of how God never gives up on anyone.
We can follow the Jewish nation down through the ages and learn of all the terrible things that have happened to them, and still, God has kept them and caused them to survive. Like all of humankind, they are not a perfect people and are considered to be a lost nation.
Nevertheless, the "Jewish people" are God's "Chosen people." Even now they are "living miracles," in that, although surrounded by bitter enemies, they are in their 'homeland," the promised land." just as God promised Abraham over 4000 years ago.
Because of His great love for all of humanity, individuals of any nationality, any race, anywhere in the whole world, who accept Jesus as their Savior will receive eternal life.
This concludes our study of, Jesus Heals a Cripple by the Pool of Bethesda.
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Jesus Feeds the Five Thousand"
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Why is it so difficult for our educators and society, in general, to understand that love and respect for one another taught from a young age can solve much of the world's hostility and social problems!
"Train up a child in the way he should go, And when he is old he will not depart from it" (Prov 22:6).
Love is the answer!
True loyalty springs from the heart and is wrapped in love. It is often in our most private moments that true loyalty, or the lack of it, is made known.
Reaching the world with the message of Jesus
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Samuel L Mills
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Maryville, TN 37802