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Claiming Possession of Eternal Life

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Text:  John 5:1-47


            Making a claim that you can grant eternal life to someone is a pretty big claim.  In fact, you’d better be God or you are a liar.  Granting eternal life is a privilege of God only.

            John uses all the miracles and sermons of his Gospel to develop an impeccable argument for the deity of Jesus Christ (deity means you are God).  John selected seven signs and miracles to substantiate the deity of Christ.  Each of the miracles reveals some specific characteristic of Jesus’ power and who He is.  When signs or miracles are present, two reactions are possible: acceptance or rejection.  The word” believe” is used 98 times in John’s Gospel. Read text.

            This miracle, the healing at Bethesda (which means “The House of Mercy), was performed at one of the most authentic archeological sites in Jerusalem.  The place still exists today.  It sits inside what used to be the Sheep Gate, near the present Church of St. Anne, surrounded by five porches.  There are two pools with a walkway in the middle.  Sheep were regularly brought into the city and washed in these pools to clean them up for sacrifice in the Temple.  The water in these pools would not be nice and pristine as one might think.  Sheep stink.  Bath water of sheep stinks.

            As to the angel stirring up the waters, thus giving it healing powers, it is not recorded anywhere else is Scripture, or history prior to the 4th century.  Whether this was true or not, we cannot validate.  But the fact that there were sick and crippled people there waiting for such a moment and then to be the first one in the dirty water, shows their desperation.  What Jesus has to offer this man is much better than a physical healing.  Let’s take a closer look. 

1.      Give me a profile of a person who would be sitting next to the pools at Bethesda waiting for the stirring of the waters.     What kind of desperate measures have you known some people go to to be free from their physical infirmity?     How would this be compounded for this man who had the infirmity for 38 years?

2.      Why do you think Jesus asked this man whether he wanted to get well (5:6)?  (It’s an acute question for someone of that day who survived by begging.  It would mean he would have to be responsible to make his own living afterwards.)     Do you think there are people who resist the Gospel because they do not want to “get well?”

3.      Since the man did not directly answer Jesus, what does his response in verse 7 tell you about his mindset?

4.      What was Jesus’ main concern when He saw the lame man?

5.      Do you think we ever get so hung up with the way we think things ought to be done that we fail to see the good that has happened?

6.      What do you think was going on inside the mind of the man after he heard Jesus command him to take up his bed and walk?     Do you think he felt something go through his body that he had never felt before that gave him an indication that his body had been changed?

7.      Why do you think Jesus chose to heal the man on the Sabbath?  (5:17-18 It showed He was God.  He reinforced His claims by saying he could give eternal life [5:24], He was the source of life [5:26], and He has authority to judge sin [5:27].)

8.       What was the main concern of the Jews who observed this miracle?
Insight: In verse 11 the lame man explains to the Jews how it happened.  “He told me to do it.”  How much wiser to obey the Lord than those who tell you what to do, but neither care about you nor have ability to help!  Do you see how it’s unwise to invent motives and then criticize people for their actions?  Jesus points out here that God does not take the Sabbath off, but keeps the universe running.

9.      With people’s focus on the lame man now walking, Jesus slips away from the crowd, but later finds him in the Temple.  Why do you think the man first went to the Temple instead of going home?  (To give thanks and praise God.)

10.  Jesus runs into him at the Temple.  What does Jesus’ statement in verse 14 tell you about a possible cause of this man being lame?  Mat. 9:2-6; 1 Cor. 11:27-32      Could one infer from these passages that anyone lame or blind are so because of sin?  (No.)  Jn. 9:1-3

11.  Were the Jews satisfied with Jesus’ answer as to why He healed on the Sabbath?  Why or why not?

12.  From verse 18, is there any doubt on the part of the Jews that Jesus was making a claim to be God?     Why do you think people today state that Jesus never claimed to be God?  (They simply don’t read the N.T.  Jesus’ enemies knew very well exactly what He was claiming.  They refused to believe and determined to kill Him.  You wouldn’t do so if you didn’t think there was no such claim.)
Insight: The Jews knew what the Law said, but failed to apply it’s words to their lives.  They refused to let the Son of God change their life.  This is a warning to the danger of limiting God to what you think He can do.  We need to accept the good that happens in life without getting hung up over the fact that the good isn’t always accomplished in the way that we feel comfortable with.

13.  As to Jesus’ response in verse 19, what does it tell you about how Jesus set’s His agenda?     What can you learn from this for personal application?  (Look around you to see what God is doing, then join Him, instead of trying to set your own agenda!)

14.  What’s Jesus’ claim in verse 21?  Verse 22?
Insight:  There are three signs that Jesus was the true Messiah that are fulfilled in Jesus.
A.  All power and dominion are given to Him as the Son of Man. 
Dan. 7:1-14  Fulfilled in Jn. 5:27; 17:1-2 
B.  The lame and sick are healed.  Isa. 35:6; Jer. 31:8-9  Fulfilled in Jn 5:20,26
C.  The dead are raised to life. 
Deut. 32:39; 1 Sam. 2:6  Fulfilled in Jn 5:21,28; Rom. 8:11

15.  Who does Jesus say backs up His claims (His testimony)?  5:32     Why does Jesus say that He doesn’t even need John the Baptist’s testimony as to who He was?  5:36

16.  Agreeing with 5:37, than none of us have heard God’s voice nor have seen His form, how then are we to believe Jesus’ claims about who He is?  Jn. 20:29-30  (By faith in the works that He has accomplished.)

17.  What was Jesus condemning the Jews for in verses 5:39 and following?     Are not the Scriptures the source of salvation?  (They only point to Jesus.  You must believe Him to be what He claims to be in order to be saved.  The Jews wrapped all their faith up on the Scriptures alone, thinking that by studying them alone they would be saved.)


            Eternal life is more than an endless life.  It is God’s own life, infused with His character through our spiritual rebirth.  Those with this life can have fellowship with God and with other believers, for we are linked to Him and one another by eternal bonds.  Possession of eternal life will show itself in obedience and love.  The bondage that comes with sin is broken by Jesus’ life-giving cross.  The Holy Spirit’s power flows through us, enabling us to express our new nature by living righteously.  It is this wonderful eternal life that we possess immediately when we believe in Jesus.  1 Jn. 5:10-12

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