Summary: Our union with Christ in Ephesians 2:5-7 shows us what God has done and why he has done it.
ARISE! GET UP! COME FORTH!
The miracle [literally “sign” (John 4:54)] of the healing of the boy at Capernaum is immediately followed in John’s account with another healing, this time at an unspecified feast in Jerusalem (John 5:1-9).
THE NEED (John 5:1-5). A man who had had an infirmity for 38 years lay by the Spa of Bethesda. So did many other people, each with challenges of their own. There was nothing special about this man as opposed to anyone else.
DIVINE SELECTION (John 5:6). Then Jesus arrived on the scene, singled him out and asked whether he really wanted to be healed. It was a reasonable question: some beggars make their living out of being sick. There is also a temptation for all of us to revel in that which draws attention to ourselves.
PREVARICATION (John 5:7). The man’s evasive answer was that he was waiting for someone to carry him down into the water: but there was no-one. It is easy to resort to popular means for healing, but sometimes we need to look within ourselves to see if there is a deeper spiritual reason for our suffering (John 5:14). Do we really want the touch of Jesus in our lives?
DIVINE COMPASSION (John 5:8). Jesus graciously reached into the man’s situation, and commanded him to get up. There was still nothing to commend this man to Jesus, no indication of an acknowledgement of his deeper need. The incarnation is all about what Jesus came to do “while we were yet sinners” (Romans 5:8; Ephesians 2:13).
RECEIVING THE WORD (John 5:9). The healing took place as soon as the words left Jesus’ mouth. It was not conditional upon anything within the man. It only remained for the man to obey.
INGRATITUDE (John 5:15). Sometimes we spite the hand that healed us. Unlike the nobleman in the previous episode, there is no indication that this man entered into the deeper reality of a trusting faith in Jesus (John 4:53). Instead, this man effectively betrayed Jesus to the religious authorities.
We do not have far to look for the meaning of this sign (John 5:21-30).
RAISING THE DEAD (John 5:21). The verb which Jesus used in commanding the impotent man to get up, literally “Arise” (John 5:8), is the same verb which is used of the Father raising the dead (John 5:21). Quickening, bringing to life, is now delegated to the Son (John 5:21; John 5:26). This is inclusive of both the “bringing to life” for judgement (John 5:22-23), and in regeneration (John 5:24-25): Jesus argues from the one to the other, and back again (John 5:28-29).
HEARING AND BELIEVING (John 5:24-25). Whoever hears the voice of Jesus and puts their trust in God through Him has everlasting life (John 3:16). This is what it is to be quickened, and it occurs “while we are yet sinners” (Ephesians 2:4-6). It is as mysterious and wonderful as Jesus standing at the tomb of Lazarus and calling him to life (John 11:43)!
RESURRECTION (John 5:28-29). Jesus is given authority to execute judgement (John 5:27). He is the One who will call all men out of their graves at the last day, so of course He has authority to heal, to restore, to bring to life. All life resides in Him (John 1:4).
JUDGEMENT (John 5:22; John 5:27; John 5:29-30). John’s use of the expression “Son of man” (John 5:27) is clearly Messianic, linking with Daniel’s vision of the judgement (Daniel 7:10; Daniel 7:13). There is a “worse thing” here that might befall the healed man if he does not forsake his sin (John 5:14). Surely for us, too, the alternative is much better?