August 15, 2015: Daily Bible Reading with Commentary for John 5-6
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Context: In chapter 5, Jesus heals a man who had been lame for 38 years. Often, Jesus requires that a person have faith to receive a miracle, but this time, He did not. The man who was healed did not even know who Jesus was! The Pharisees set very strict and specific rules about what did and did not constitute as work on the Sabbath. Apparently, carrying a mat constituted work. Healing was certainly considered work, as evidence by their reaction to Jesus’ healing. Jesus further enraged the Pharisees by claiming equality with God. Jesus offers evidence to His claim in accordance with Jewish law, which requires at least two witnesses. Jesus offers five: John the Baptist (33-35), Jesus’ words (36), the Father (37-38), the Scriptures (39), and Moses (45-57). The feeding of the 5,000 is the only miracle recorded in all four Gospels. The bread and fish supplied by Jesus is a reminder of the manna and water given to the Israelites in the desert, after the first Passover. The feeding lays the foundation for the second part of the chapter. The following morning, the people who had been fed once again sought out Jesus. They were hungry again and wanted to use Jesus for their own purposes. The Jews had difficulty understanding faith, as they demanded signs first, appearing to forget of the miraculous dinner they had the prior night. Jesus explained that he had come offer bread and water that would forever fill a person. The crowd thought he was speaking literally, not metaphorically. Bread represented life. Jesus was the bread of Life. When we eat bread, we absorb it into our bodies so that it may nourish us. When we develop a relationship with Christ, we must absorb Him into our bodies, into our lives, and he will provide spiritual nourishment. Through Him we will have eternal life (never go hungry). Salvation by faith cannot be achieved through works, another concept the Jews struggled to understand. With Jesus, we never have to work for our salvation (bread). We must only have faith. Is this hard to understand? Many of Jesus’ disciples also found it difficult. Some believed Jesus was talking about cannibalism. Because they could not grasp what Jesus was teaching they left. None of the 12 left Him. If you struggle to understand this passage, pray for wisdom.
World History: The pool which the lame gathered around was part of a superstitious belief, which is explained in verse 4, although the NIV translation omits this verse. During that time, it was believed that an angel of the Lord would occasionally come down and stir the waters. The first person to enter the water after it had been stirred would have been healed.