Reading for Friday, January 6th: John 5
So many powerful things in this chapter. I’ll just list a few that stand out to me.
v2 – From the ESV Study Bible: “Bethesda” means ‘house of mercy,’ a fitting term given the desperate state of the people lying there in hope of a miracle cure.” In essence, Jesus is the miracle drug that these disabled people have been waiting for. There’s such anticipation and fulfillment in this story. As Mallory noted in the comments yesterday, Jesus is enough!
v5 – “Do you want to be healed?” As with the Samaritan woman, Jesus is able to drill down to this person’s most heartfelt desire. For all his cosmic language in the prologue, John describes Jesus as a Messiah full of particularities: philosophically sparring with an intellectual seeker like Nicodemus; tenderly yet boldly dealing with the Samaritan woman’s tattered relationship history; and now, approaching the desperate man at the pool to bring healing to his weakened legs. All of this to say: what would Jesus say if He were to approach me? If I were a character in John’s Gospel (and given the way he ends his Gospel, I think it’s safe to say he has us in mind when he writes!), what area of my life would Jesus transform, redeem, restore?
v17 – “My Father is always at his work to this very day, and I too am working.” God did not continue to rest after the 7th day, but He is an active, living God. So too, is Jesus at work in the world in John’s Gospel — healing, teaching, forgiving sins and, ultimately, sacrificing His life. But on this side of the resurrection, I believe we can affirm that Jesus is also at work in the present to bring freedom and abundant life to us today.
I also love what Jesus has to say about glory at the end of the chapter. Isaiah prophesied that the Messiah would have nothing in His natural appearance that would draw people to Him: “no form or majesty that we should look at him,and no beauty that we should desire him,” (Isa 53.2). But there is glory here: glory to be revealed at the cross as an indication of the Father’s love; glory to be revealed at the empty tomb as an indication of the Father’s power. This glory will continue to develop in John’s Gospel, but he sets the stage for what is to come with v44: “How can you believe since you accept glory from one another but do not seek the glory that comes from the only God?” The humble, suffering servant of Isa 53 reminds us that pride can be a major obstacle to entering the Kingdom of God. Will you receive glory from others or will to give glory to the only God?