By Colin Hartwick
In John 5, Jesus heals a disabled man to the anger of the Pharisees, and this begins a longer passage on who Jesus truly is: The Son of God.
Jesus divinely discerns that the lame man at the pool had been there for a long time. He asks a seemingly redundant question: “Do you want to be healed?” The sick man does not directly answer the question, but gives an excuse for why he has not been healed. Perhaps he has given up on being healed, no longer looking for people to help him into the pool. Or he has become content in self-pity of his state. No matter the lame man’s thoughts, Jesus’ answer is simple and immediate. The man’s faith in Jesus instantly heals him!
In our modern culture of the self, excuses abound. There is always a “good” reason for our apathy or self-pity. But even today, Jesus simply calls us out of our navel-gazing and, through faith, into a richer, healthier life of belief in him!
The rest of chapter five is a discourse Jesus gives in response to the doubt and scorn of the Pharisees (the Jews in verses 10-17). He proclaims himself the Son of God, therefore equal with God, and gives examples of heavenly authority given to him. In the final section, he lists witnesses of his authority. In the Jewish tradition, two or three witnesses needed to give testimony to verify the truth of a matter (Deuteronomy 19:15). So Jesus goes beyond that and lists four: John the Baptist, Jesus’ miracles, God the Father, and the Scriptures, especially Moses’ writings.
Part of Jesus’ authority includes the giving of eternal life to those who believe in him (v. 21, 24). It was a temptation for the Pharisees, and still is for us today, to gain eternal life through knowledge or works of any kind (v. 39-40). But Jesus reminds us that HE is the source of our life. This should encourage us that, despite our best or worst moments, we are assured of eternal life through Christ, who has the authority to give it to us!
Prayer: “Lord, I believe; help my unbelief! Strengthen my faith to rise above apathy and self-pity, that I may live as a brighter light for you. Thank you for the promise of eternal life that you gave to us freely! I look forward to eternity with you.”