Notes: August 7, 2009

38 Years Is A Long Time

A lot can happen in 38 years. But for the man at the pool of Bethesda nothing happened to help him walk until the day that Jesus passed by.

John 5:1-15


We are not unaware of the controversy over the precise text of this chapter. Codex Sinaiticus (online here) is supposed to be the only ancient copy of the entire Bible in Greek. But did you know that this old copy omits John 5:4; John 8:1-14; Matthew 16:2-3; Romans 16:24 and hundreds of other words and phrases which can be found in the Alexandrian text? If you want to learn more about the issues, the Dean Burgon Society has books and pamphlets on the subject of textual criticism. Without apology, we prefer the Textus Receptus.

  • We don’t know how old the man was; but we do know that he’d been unable to walk for 38 years (v. 5). And Jesus knew it, too.
  • Asked whether he’d like to be healed, instead of shouting “Yes” the man began to make excuses for why he continued to be unable to walk (v. 7). (Note: leave the angel verse out, v. 4, and try to explain the man’s excuse.)
  • Jesus went well past the excuses and the angel when He said, “Rise, take up your bed, and walk.” (v. 8).
  • And the man did just that! I can imagine he did more than walk quietly, even though it was a sabbath day (v. 9).
  • The “religion police”, the Jews, confronted this walking miracle with his violation of their rules (v. 10).
  • Although the man didn’t have Jesus’ name, he later learned who Jesus was when the two met again in the temple and Jesus told him, “Sin no more.” (v. 14).
  • With this newly acquired information, the man found those who had asked, and told them that Jesus had made him whole (v. 15). I doubt that he did this to get Jesus in trouble, but rather to give Jesus credit for the miracle.