John 5

Healing at the Pool (v1-15) The paralyzed man answered Jesus' question, as though it were an accusation. Instead of simply saying,"yes I want to be well," he explains that he has been trying to get healing.Perhaps many people have accused him of being a layabout, not really trying to get better. When God speaks to us, we also may misunderstand his intent. WE may have been taught that God is always disappointed, displeased or dissatisfied. So when God says, "come unto me, you who are weary" we might hear, "Hurry up, stop dragging your feet." Did Jesus try to make the man feel guilty by his question?

What about v 14? Here Jesus says to the man, "Stop sinning or something worse may happen to you." Is Jesus threatening him? Is Jesus saying that his previous condition was a punishment for sin? NO! We've seen elsewhere that Jesus does not see every illness or disaster as a punishment he has given. Remember a threat is different from a warning. A threat says, "If you do this, I'll hurt you" while a warning says, "If you do this, you'll get hurt." The bible knows there is a great difference between those who accuse the man of breaking the Sabbath, by carrying his mat, and Jesus warning to stop sinning. Jesus is not talking about carrying the mat, but about the things that really matter to God.What is Jesus saying about your life? Is there anything that he would warn you about?

Jesus is the Same as God (v16-30)

Pay careful attention to Jesus' description of how he abides in God. The only law for Jesus is to do what his Heavenly Father is doing. For Jesus this is what happens: He sees our Father healing, so he heals; he hears his Father speaking, so he speaks; if the Father is raising the dead, he will raise the dead. Jesus seeks only our Father's praise. Jesus can tell us things the Father always does: the loves his creatures, he honours the Son, he is truthful, patient, kind. These rules give us in broad outline insight into what the Father is doing. But only in following the Son, will we be capable of copying the Father precisely in each situation, only in honouring the Son will we honour the Father. We see the Father by observing the Son,the only one who has seen the Father directly. Everything he does perfectly reveals the Father, because he does only, always and everything the Father does. It's an important twist on the slogan WWJD - when we move from mere moralism, "What Would Jesus Do?" to relationship, "What is Jesus doing?"  As you learn to recognize Jesus' voice from Scriptures, you can learn to walk with him in a real time relationship.

Why believe in Jesus? (v31ff)

Jesus recognizes that people can't believe in him just because he says so. If that was enough, we'd follow every false Christ, everyone who said they were from God. So he points out the reasons we can trust what he says:

John the Baptist testified that Jesus is the one. The miracles* Jesus does are the Father's indication that He is with Jesus. The Scriptures (of the Old Testament then, and the New Testament now) speak of Jesus. Moses, as the source of the Torah, the first five books of the Bible, testifies to Jesus prophetically.

*Jesus said, "The works I am doing, which the Father has given me to finish." It's easiest to speak of the miracles, yet when people heard him teach "they were astonished, because taught with authority." Something about his teaching was honest, forthright and true. The Holy Spirit confirmed it in their hearts. But the greatest work of the Father, which Jesus would shortly finish, is going to the cross to die for us. So many false teachers fail at this point - they prove by their actions that they are really in it for themselves. They acquire riches, fame and power, but when the going gets tough they abandon their principles. Jesus' works surely testify about his integrity. For these reasons the disciples, and billions after them, have put their trust in Jesus.    

John 4

The Samaritan Woman

Once again, let us remember that Samaritans and Jews mostly despised one another. Sexism was rampant, so a Jewish man talking with a Samaritan woman about religious truth was unheard of. Jesus is different. Though he is actually ‘higher up’ than any person, he talks quite respectfully to this woman. She seem a little suspicious. He makes some big claims about himself, as the source of this strange “living water.” She responds as though this is a jest, “Well then, give me this water, so I can stop coming to this well (and I won’t have to meet strange folk like you?)”

Then Jesus proves himself a prophet, knowing her past, and declares himself the Messiah. She begins to believe him.

When the disciples return with food,  the woman goes back to here town, and starts gathering a crowd.  Jesus speaks cryptically to his disciples about having another source of nutrition: doing the will of the Father is his food. Then he speaks prophetically again, declaring that a spiritual harvest is ready, and the disciples are about to see God gather people to himself from a most unlikely source: Samaria.

Then the crowds arrive fulfilling his prophecy, spurred by the woman to come and meet Jesus for themselves. Some believed because of her testimony, and many more believed  when they met Jesus for themselves.

The Official’s Son

Jesus gives his word to the official, that his son will live, and the man ‘took Jesus at his word’: He believed and started back home. I notice that the disciples tell a few stories about healing in the homes of the rich and powerful, and what stands out is that Jesus doesn’t deny them, or give them special treatment –sometimes he doesn’t even go to their house. It’s a subtle way of showing that your earthly fame and fortune can’t be used to twist God’s arm. The healing did happen, as Jesus promised, and the whole household believed.

John 3

Jesus and Nicodemus

This is a crucial chapter in John’s Gospel. Nicodemus is a teacher of Israel, a Pharisee, and a member of the ruling council - Those three things might make us expect that he is an opponent of Jesus- and this meeting seems to end without Nicodemus accepting Jesus claims.  We will find out, at the end of the Gospel, that Nicodemus has become a believer, when he helps Joseph of Arimathea to claim and bury the body of Jesus.

Born Again This is a crucial term in the Bible: that in Christ we are made new, and get a completely new start in life. In some sense, disciples of Jesus are alive in a way that no one else can me. All people are alive biologically, but disciples come alive spiritually- alive to God. It is analogous to the difference between plant life and animal life, animal life and human life. Nicodemus is almost right: the one born of the Spirit has gone through a change like the baby emerging from the womb, into a whole new world.

John 3:16-17 So much can be written about this verse that it would  be impossible to add anything here, so let me repeat what has been said elsewhere: 

1.     The whole bible, old and new testaments is a commentary on this verse. 

2.     Try reading this verse and replacing every reference to people with yourself: “God so loved me that  he gave his only-begotten Son, so that by believing in him, I will not perish but have everlasting life. . .” Is it hard to believe that Jesus loves you that much?

3.     Now  substitute the name of a friend or family member you are praying for.

4.     Now (and this might be harder) substitute the name of someone you don’t like. Is it so hard to believe that God also loves difficult and wicked people, and desires to save them from perishing?

John the Baptist confirms his testimony about Jesus 

John declares that the people should follow Jesus instead of himself. In fact he says that whoever puts their faith in Jesus has eternal life, but anyone who rejects Jesus continues to be separated from God and eternal life by their sin.

John 2

The Wedding at Cana.   

Changing water into wine may not seem like the greatest way to start Jesus’ ministry, but as miracles go, it was a generous, quiet act which kept a wedding from becoming a disgrace. And it is an act on par with the feeding of the multitudes. It marks Jesus ministry as life giving - Moses turned water to blood as a curse, a plague, but Jesus made the water into the best wine, a blessing. And his disciples, in on the secret, put their faith in hiim. 

Clearing the temple

John already doesn’t seem as concerned to put things in the same timeline as the other Gospels. He orders events,at least partly, by their significance.  The clearing of the Temple introduces the theme of Jesus' death and resurrection: “Destroy this temple and I will raise it again in three days.”  John has jumped ahead in the story to give us a glimpse of the climax of Jesus ministry, his crucifixion for our sins. This segment also ends by pointing to the disciples response to this prophecy - they believed when the prophecy was fulfilled at the resurrection.

Jesus, on the other hand does not put his trust in people. He knows that the crowds, so amazed at his miracles, have not yet come to any steadfast faith.


A quick Lenten commentary on the four Gospels, chapter by chapter.

New 2-3 chapters will be published each day through Lent 2020.