In the healing of the crippled man at Bethesda (John 5:1-16), the man clearly desires to be healed, but no one would help him down to the pool (verse 7). The Bible's mention of this detail is an intentional rebuke of the heartlessness and meanness of human nature. It was every man for himself.
Despite the man's frustration, he still maintains good manners by acknowledging Jesus as "Sir." This word, the Greek kurios, appears over 700 times in the New Testament. Hundreds of times it is translated as "Lord" or "lord," but as "Sir" only about a dozen times. The term shows respect and honor for Christ. In today's society, we see quite a contrast to this example. The opposite attitude is usually present when people address each other, and even when children address parents.
Martin G. Collins
The Miracles of Jesus Christ: Healing a Cripple by a Pool (Part Two)
Once the Jewish critics learn that Jesus had ordered the man to carry his bed, their criticism and attack are aimed at Him. Their ruthless reaction is to seek to murder Him, the height of hypocrisy. While they attack Christ for healing on the Sabbath, they see nothing wrong with seeking to murder the One who healed a man who had been crippled for 38 years! They consistently show no judgment or mercy (Matthew 23:23).
Hundreds of years earlier, the prophets Isaiah and Jeremiah had seen hypocrisy in Israel, declaring it to be a problem of the heart (Jeremiah 42:20; Matthew 15:7-9). Human nature is full of hypocrisy, as can be seen in current laws that protect homosexuals and abortionists from criticism, even though they pervert and debase society and murder the unborn. At the same time, Christians are attacked and criticized for trying to raise their children to live moral and ethical lives for the benefit of all!
Martin G. Collins
The Miracles of Jesus Christ: Healing a Cripple by a Pool (Part Three)
Jesus not only healed the man, but He told him to take up his bed and walk. The Pharisees considered the carrying of the pad the man was using to lie on to be work as was His making of the clay paste.
The Jewish authorities even debated whether a man with a wooden leg could carry it on the Sabbath! Some argued that he could do it because he needed it, but others said, "No, it's bearing a burden. It really doesn't belong to his body, and therefore he shouldn't be carrying it around." They tried to get into every detail to help people judge whether an activity was right or not to do on the Sabbath.
John W. Ritenbaugh
The Fourth Commandment (Part 3)
"Hitherto" (King James version) is not a word that we are familiar with. It means, "to here," so in this context it implies "to this very day." Jesus is saying, "My Father is working right up to this point of time, and I am too." God is an active Creator. He did not create everything physical, and then just sit back, cross His legs, and twiddle His thumbs. He is an active Creator.
God created this universe to carry out the next step in His purpose, which is His ongoing work. He is creating a Family of beings just like Himself. He is reproducing Himself by creating us in His image. "Conversion" is the word that describes this process of transformation—"from glory to glory"—from the glory of man to the glory of God. We are being brought into the image of God.
This image is not in the way that we look, but in certain knowledge and attitudes that we believe, accept, submit to in thought and in conduct. It is accomplished by putting the mind of God in us. This regeneration begins a growth process. In our case, it is the growth of God's mind in ours.
God's mind, just like ours, is more than words. It is also attitudes, feelings, moods, passions, inclinations, and perspectives. These things can be described by words, but they are not words. They develop through the combination of knowledge and experience, most frequently within relationships. We really cannot relate to a machine, but we can relate to other beings—we can have relationships with God and men—fellowships, social intercourse, work, play, and interaction. From these experiences, these mental, emotional, and attitudinal aspects of the mind, beyond mere words, create and develop.
As it happens, nothing actually is produced that has form, weight, or can be measured. Rather it is knowledge gleaned from experience, and it is accompanied by God personally and actively working and creating to enable us to accomplish our part in carrying out His will. Remember, Paul said, "For it is God who works in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure" (Philippians 2:13).
John W. Ritenbaugh
The Holy Spirit and the Trinity (Part 6)
The issue is the Sabbath. God does not stop working on the Sabbath. However, He is not laboring in a steel mill. He is not bending over an engineering table, working on His automobile, or cutting His lawn. What is God doing? Psalm 74:12 says that God is working salvation in all the world, and that work does not stop on the Sabbath.
Jesus is justifying what He did on the Sabbath by the fact that He was doing the same thing God was. He was expending His energy in God's creation, and therefore it was justifiable for Jesus to work. So, creative acts—creative work—of the kind that God is involved in does not stop just because the Sabbath arrives.
The Sabbath is, therefore, an integral part of the same process of Creation that God began on that seventh day. The physical aspect was finished at the end of the sixth day. But the spiritual aspect began with creation of the Sabbath, and it continues to this day, as Jesus establishes in John 5.
In the physical sequence of events—the first six days—God created an environment for man and life. But God shows through the creation of the Sabbath that the life-producing process is not complete with just the physical environment. The Sabbath plays an important role in producing spiritual life. It is life with a dimension that the physical cannot supply. Thus, the Sabbath is not an afterthought of a tremendous Creation. Rather it is a deliberate memorializing of the most enduring thing that man knows—time.
Time plays an important role in God's spiritual creation. It is as if God says, "When this day rolls around, look at what I have made, and consider that I am not finished yet. I am reproducing Myself, and you can be part of My spiritual creation." God created the Sabbath by resting from His physical exertions, thus setting us the example that we must also rest from our physical exertions.
He also blessed and sanctified the day. He did this to no other day! Yet people will argue, even with Christ, that we should not keep it as He did. It is very obvious that He kept it. Yet, it is the commandment that men tend most to disregard as though it is nothing.
John W. Ritenbaugh
The Fourth Commandment (Part 1)
Jesus' healing of the crippled man beside the pool called Bethesda is one of nine healing miracles involving water and one of seven performed on the Sabbath. Only the apostle John records it (John 5:1-16). It is impossible to be sure when the miracle occurred other than it happened on a Sabbath day.
John's reference to "a feast of the Jews" (John 5:1) rather than a "feast of the Lord" (Exodus 12:14; Leviticus 23:2, 37) illustrates the spiritual decline that had occurred among the Jews regarding God's feast days. People may typically start out with God being central to their worship, but they end up getting in the way and become the main focus themselves. The people had made this festival a feast of the people instead of continuing it as God's feast.
In His journey from Galilee to Jerusalem, Jesus expended a considerable amount of effort to be there in time for this Sabbath. In doing this, He set an example in terms of spiritual priorities and the sacrifices involved in putting spiritual matters first. Some Christians are unclear about spiritual priorities, desiring a convenient religion that requires little inconvenience and no sacrifice. Frequently, those who complain most about not getting enough out of church are often those who attend sporadically and involve themselves the least in church activities. Jesus, on the other hand, took great pains to fellowship and to help the people, especially on the Sabbath.
Martin G. Collins
The Miracles of Jesus Christ: Healing a Cripple by a Pool (Part One)
Other Forerunner Commentary entries containing John 5:16: