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JOHN V. 1-16.
AFTER this there was a feast of the Jews, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. Now there is at Jerusalem by the sheep market a pool, which is called in the Hebrew tongue Bethesda, having five porches. In these lay a great multitude of impotent folk, of blind, halt, withered, waiting for the moving of the water. 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. And a certain man was there, which had an infirmity thirty and eight years. 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? The impotent 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. Jesus saith unto him, Rise, take up thy bed, and walk. And immediately the man was made whole, and took up his bed, and walked: and on the same day was the sabbath. The Jews therefore said unto him that was cured, It is the sabbath day; it is not lawful for thee to carry thy bed. He answered them, He that made me whole, the same said unto me, Take up thy bed and walk.-Then asked they him, What man is that which said unto thee, Take up thy bed and walk? And he that was healed wist not who it was; for Jesus had conveyed himself away, a
multitude being in that place. 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. The man departed, and told the Jews that it was Jesus, which had made him whole. And therefore did the Jews persecute Jesus, and sought to slay him, because he had done these things on the sabbath day.
What reason have we humbly to adore that Almighty Being who kills and makes alive, who wounds and heals! (Deut. xxxii. 39.) If the Jews had cause of thankfulness for this miraculous interposition, surely those virtues which God has in a natural way bestowed on medicines, and that sagacity which he has given to men for the discovery of those virtues, are matter of much greater acknowledgment, as the blessing is so much more extensive and lasting.
But how much greater still are our obligations to him for the blessings of his gospel and the ordinances of his worship, those waters of life by which our spiritual maladies are healed, and vigour restored to our enfeebled souls! Let us humbly attend them; yet during that attendance let us look beyond them for surely the efficacy of this pool of Bethesda did not more depend upon the descent of the angel, than the efficacy of the noblest ordinances depends on that blessed Spirit which operates in and by them.
Multitudes were continually attending at this pool; and why then is the house of God forsaken? where not one alone, but many, at the same moment, may receive spiritual sight and strength; yea, and life from the dead? Yet, alas! under the diseases of the soul, how few desire to be made whole! Blessed Jesus! if thou hast awakened that desire in us, we would adore thee for it as a token for good; and would lift up our believing eyes to thee, in humble expectation that thou wilt graciously fulfil it.
The man who was lately languishing on his couch we quickly after find in the temple: and where should they be found who have been raised up from beds of weakness, and brought out from chambers of confinement, but in the sanctuary, rendering their praises to the God of their mercies? How reasonable is the caution which our Lord gave him there! Sin no more, lest a worse thing come unto thee. May we see sin as the root of all our afflictions; and, by the bitterness of them, may sin be embittered to us, and our hearts fortified against relapsing into it, especially when we have been chastised, and restored again!
One would have expected that, when this grateful creature published the name of his Benefactor, crowds should have thronged about Jesus, to have heard the words of his mouth, and to have received the blessings of his gospel; and that the whole nation should have gloried in the presence of such a person, as far more valuable than the descent of a heavenly spirit at some particular seasons for the cure of their diseases, or even the abode of an incarnate angel among them would have been. But instead of this, behold the malignity of our fallen nature, and the force of stubborn prejudice! They surround him with an hostile intent; they even conspire against his beneficial life, and for an imagined transgression in a point of ceremony, would have put out this light in Israel. Let us not wonder then if our good be evil spoken of; (Rom. xiv. 16.) Let us not wonder, if even candour, benevolence, and usefulness, do not wholly disarm the enmity of some; especially of those who have been taught to prefer sacrifice to mercy; and who, disrelishing the genuine contents of the gospel, naturally seek occasion to slander and persecute the professors, and especially the defenders of it.
JOHN V. 17-30.
BUT Jesus answered them, My Father worketh hitherto, and I work. 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. Then answered Jesus and said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do: for what things soever he doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise. For the Father loveth the Son, and sheweth him all things that himself doeth and he will shew him greater works than these, that ye may marvel. For as the Father raiseth up the dead, and quickeneth them; even so the Son quickeneth whom he will. For the Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son That all men should honour the Son, even as they honour the Father. He that honoureth not the Son, honoureth not the Father which hath sent him. Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my
word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life. Verily, verily, I say unto you, The hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God: and they that hear shall live. For as the Father hath life in himself; so hath he given to the Son to have life in himself; And hath given him authority to execute judgment also, because he is the Son of man. Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, and shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation. I can of mine own self do nothing; as I hear, I judge: and my judgment is just; because I seek not mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent me.
With what humble prostration of soul should we bow before . the Lord Jesus Christ while we read such words as these! Though he appeared under the form of a servant; and as man and mediator, confessed a holy subjection to his Father and his God; yet is he his own, his only-begotten Son, the Son whom he loves, whom he honours, whom he commands all men to honour even as himself, and to whom such power and authority are committed, that he is the principle of life and the administrator of judgment. Let us adore the wisdom of such a contrivance, that he who humbled himself thus low, should be so highly exalted. Let us labour to secure an interest in him; treating him with that submission, duty and obedience, which becomes at once the divinity of his nature and the dignity of his office.
May we be enabled by Divine grace so to hear the voice of his gospel, that we may arise to a life of holy obedience; that we may another day hear him with joy calling forth our sleeping dust, and arise to the resurrection of life; while those that have despised and rejected him, shall find themselves the helpless prisoners of his justice, and with reluctance and terror come forth to the resurrection of damnation !
JOHN V. 31-47.
IF I bear witness of myself, my witness is not true. There is another that beareth witness of me, and I know that the witness which he witnesseth of me is true. Ye sent unto John, and he bare witness unto the truth. But I receive not testimony from man; but these things I say, that ye might be saved. He was a burning and a shining light: and ye were willing for a season to rejoice in his light. But I have a greater witness than that of John; for the works which the Father hath given me to finish, the same works that I do, bear witness of me, that the Father hath sent me. And the Father himself which hath sent me, hath borne witness of me. Ye have neither heard his voice at any time, nor seen his shape. And ye have not his word abiding in you: for whom he hath sent, him ye believe not. Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me. And ye will not come to me, that ye might have life. I receive not honour from men. But I know you, that ye have not the love of God in you. I am come in my Father's name, and ye receive me not: if another shall come in his name, him ye will receive. How can ye believe, which receive honour one of another, and seek not the honour that cometh from God only? Do not think that I will accuse you to the Father: there is one that accuseth you, even Moses, in whom ye trust. For had ye believed Moses, ye would have believed me: for he wrote of me. But if ye believe not his writings, how shall ye believe my words?
How various is the evidence of our Redeemer's mission, and with what pleasure should we trace it in the testimony which John bore, the miracles which himself wrought, the testimony of the Father to him, and the predictions which the prophets uttered and recorded! To confirm our faith in all, let us be