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Spiritual Versus Concrete Continues in John 6

Week 7 Part 4 John 6:22-71: Focus–Concrete (Concrete Literal) vs Spiritual (Spiritual Reality)

(Link to Outline of John)

John’s Theme: John 20:31 … these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.

In chapter 6 John continues the steady development of his presentation of the great salvation theme of his letter, and he continues to contrast the concrete-only understanding of the religious pundits of his day with the spiritual realities of eternal life.

I. John 3: Nicodemus and the necessity of being born again of the Spirit

John 3:3 Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” 4 Nicodemus said to him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?” 5 Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. 6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.

II. John 4: The Woman at the Well and Christ the giver of living water that springs up in believers to a fountain of eternal life

John 4:10 Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.” 11 The woman said to him, “Sir, you have nothing to draw water with, and the well is deep. Where do you get that living water? 12 Are you greater than our father Jacob? He gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did his sons and his livestock.” 13 Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, 14 but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” 15 The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water, so that I will not be thirsty or have to come here to draw water.”

John 4:24 God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.” 25 The woman said to him, “I know that Messiah is coming (he who is called Christ). When he comes, he will tell us all things.” 26 Jesus said to her, “I who speak to you am he.”

III. John 6: Christ the bread of life and the necessity of eating his flesh and drinking his blood

John 6:31 Our fathers ate the manna in the wilderness; as it is written, ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat.'” 32 Jesus then said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, it was not Moses who gave you the bread from heaven, but my Father gives you the true bread from heaven. 33 For the bread of God is he who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” 34 They said to him, “Sir, give us this bread always.” 35 Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.

John 6:41 So the Jews grumbled about him, because he said, “I am the bread that came down from heaven.” 42 They said, “Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How does he now say, ‘I have come down from heaven’?

John 6:48 I am the bread of life.

John 6:51 I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. And the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.” 52 The Jews then disputed among themselves, saying, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?” 53 So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. 54 Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. 55 For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. 56 Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him. 57 As the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so whoever feeds on me, he also will live because of me.


  • To Nicodemus Jesus said, You must be born again. Nicodemus responded concretely–asking whether he needed to crawl back into his mother’s womb as an old man.
  • To the Woman at the Well Jesus said, I will give you Living Water. The woman initially responded concretely by asking for the water so as not to have to go to the well to fill her bucket every day.
  • To all the listeners in John 6 (the religious pundits, his larger circle of disciples, and his own group of 12 disciples) Jesus reveals that he himself is the living water, and that those who want the fountain of water springing up to eternal life must eat his flesh and drink his blood. He was not speaking of cannibalism, but of the spiritual necessity of fully embracing himself in deepest communion–also known as believing in him. Many who heard him interpreted his words as though he were speaking of cannibalism, and they were repulsed.

This one verse sums up Jesus’ teaching well–

John 6:63 It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is no help at all. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life.


  1. Can you find other verses in which a teaching of Jesus is interpreted concretely rather than as the spiritual truth he intends?
  2. Given the strength and clarity of Jesus’ teaching concerning Spirit and flesh (see John 6:63 above), why do you suppose there are some today whose minds still focus on concrete fulfillment of spiritual words rather than on the spiritual realities to which the concrete symbols point?



Jesus’ Categorical Statements in John 6: The Impossibility of Faith Without God

Week 7 Part 3 John 6:22-71: Focus–God’s Sovereignty in Election and Human Choice and Responsibility

(Link to Outline of John)

John’s Theme: John 20:31 … these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.

Four Verses that Function as “Necessary/Sufficient” Couplets

I. Couplet One–John 6:37 (Necessary Condition) and John 6:65 (Necessary Condition)

A. John 6:37 All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out.

X = “all that the Father gives me”

Y = “will come to me”

In this construction, X is a subset of Y.sufficient-copy

• There may be others in Y whom the Father has not given.

• Everyone who is in X must be in Y.

• Y is necessary for X.

• X at this point is not necessary for Y.

Paraphrases of John 6:37

• If the Father gave you to me, it is necessary that you come to me.

• This necessity is called Irresistible Grace

B. John 6:65 And he said, “This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless is granted him by the Father.”

X = those who come to me

Y = those whom the Father granted sufficient-part-2

Jesus’ statement “no one can come to me unless it is granted him by the Father” can be translated as–

No X (those who come to me)   If Not   Y (granted by the Father)


No X unless Y = Y is necessary for X.

In this construction, X is still a subset of Y. Notice, however, that the terms have changed.

• The X of verse 37 has become the Y of verse 65.

• The Y of verse 37 has become the X of verse 65.

In both verses, however, X is still a subset of Y.

Conclusion: If “those whom the Father gives” is a subset of “those who come,” AND “those who come” is a subset of “all that the Father gives,” then both terms are subsets of each other. This can happen only if the terms are identical. Therefore, both terms are Necessary and Sufficient for each other.


All whom the Father gives will come, and all who come were given by the Father. God’s grace is both Irresistible and Necessary.

 Romans 11:33 Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!

II. Couplet Two–John 6:47 (Necessary Condition) and John 6:53 (Necessary Condition)belief_eternal-lifesufficient

A. John 6:47 Truly, truly I say to you, whoever believes has eternal life.

X = whoever believes

Y = those who have eternal life

X is a subset of Y.

Y is a necessary condition for X. However, as stated, it is not a sufficient condition.

B. John 6:53 So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you.”

First, to “eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood” is understood as a metaphorical, symbolic, or spiritual, way of saying, “believe in Jesus.”

Paraphrase: Unless you partake fully in the being and life of Jesus the Son of Man, you have no life in you. sufficient-couplet-2

Shortened Paraphrase: Unless you believe in Jesus, you have no life in you.

X = those with life

Y = those who believe in Jesus

If not Y, then not X

Y is necessary for X

As stated, Y is not sufficient for X.

Again notice, Jesus in these two statements has interchanged the X and Y terms. In verse 47, “whoever believes” (X) is a subset of “those who have eternal life” (Y), while in verse 53, “those with [eternal] life” is a subset of “those who believe in Jesus” (Y).

Conclusion: If “whoever believes” is a subset of “those who have eternal life,” and “those with [eternal] life” is a subset of “those who believe in Jesus,” then each subset is identical with the other. Again, belief in Jesus is both necessary and sufficient for eternal life, and in order to have eternal life, it is both necessary and sufficient to believe in Christ.


There is only one set of believers–those who have eternal life, and only one set of those with eternal life–those who believe. Jesus has just demolished the “many pathways to God [eternal life]” argument. One may believe that there are many pathways to God and eternal life, but such a belief is not Scriptural; nor does it adhere to the teaching of Jesus.

III. These are not the only places in Scripture where Jesus has made these claims.

John 6:36 But I said to you that you have seen me and yet do not believe.

John 6:54 Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.

John 14:6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

John 11:25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, 26 and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?”

The People Respond

When taken as whole, Jesus’ statements in John 6:22-71 presented a stumbling block to his listeners. These were–

1. The Jewish leaders

John 6:41 So the Jews grumbled about him, because he said, “I am the bread that came down from heaven.” 42 They said, “Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How does he now say, ‘I have come down from heaven’?”

John 6:52 The Jews then disputed among themselves, saying, “How can this man [this fellow] give us his flesh to eat?”

2. Christ’s disciples, those who had been following him regularly for some time

John 6:60 When many of his disciples heard it, they said, “This is a hard saying; who can listen to it?”

John 6:66 After this many of his disciples turned back and no longer walked with him.

3. The Twelve, those closest to Christ, his intimate friends and companions

John 6:67 So Jesus said to the Twelve, “Do you want to go away as well?” 68 Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, 69 and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God.” 70 Jesus answered them, “Did I not choose you, the Twelve? And yet one of you is a devil.” 71 He spoke of Judas the son of Simon Iscariot, for he, one of the Twelve, was going to betray him.

Believing the words of Christ presents problems for millions of those who hear him today. This is why God’s “sovereign choice in election” is a blessing, an aid, a help, a gracious act of forgiveness, not a hindrance nor any unfairness on his part. Without that gracious drawing of God, no one would come to Christ, as Jesus explains in John 6. We do not know why God draws some to Christ and not others.

We do know that nowhere in John’s gospel, nor any other place in Scripture of which I am aware, does God or Christ ever say that he will turn anyone away who seeks him. Rather, Christ says that all who seek him will find.

Matthew 7:8 For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened.

Luke 11:10 For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened.

Joel 2:32 And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved. For in Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there shall be those who escape, as the LORD has said, and among the survivors shall be those whom the LORD calls.

Acts 2:21 And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.’

Romans 10:13 For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

Are you one who struggles against placing your faith and confidence in Jesus Christ? Perhaps you find the bluntness of his words difficult to receive? If this is so, there is no need to turn away from Christ. God provides a remedy for your condition.

Ephesians 2:8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God,

The remedy for an unbelieving heart is prayer. If you want eternal life, humble yourself and ask God to reveal himself to you. When God reveals himself to anyone, he also reveals Christ.

John 6:45 It is written in the Prophets, ‘And they will all be taught by God.’ Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to me–

Father, I pray that anyone reading this right now, who does not know you, will be found of you, and because of your drawing them, will come to know you, and that knowing you, they will come to know and receive Jesus Christ and through believing his Word, receive eternal life in his name. I pray, precious Father, that the gift you gave me when you drew my heart to know and believe in you, will be multiplied as the loaves and fishes, and reach out to many unto eternal life. Thank-you, Father, for hearing my prayer. In Jesus I pray, amen.

So Where in John 6 Is Human Responsibility and Choice?

Having said all that, God still provides for human responsibility and human choice. !!!!! How can this be? Well, God is God and he is infinite–we are finite, and unfortunately, still under the curse of the Fall. Some things that seem paradoxical are; perhaps God in humanity’s eternal future will explain all which is unexplainable now. What is known now is that God somehow takes our choice into account as he makes his own sovereign election.

In John 6 we find human responsibility and choice in the following verses:

John 6:25 When they found him on the other side of the sea, they said to him, “Rabbi, when did you come here?” 26 Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you are seeking me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves. 27 Do not labor for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you. For on him God the Father has set his seal.”

John 6:28 Then they said to him, “What must we do, to be doing the works of God?” 29 Jesus answered them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.”

John 6:67 So Jesus said to the Twelve, “Do you want to go away as well?”

Definition of want: “Gingrich, (θέλετε from θέλω,2. wish, will of purpose or resolve, wish to do Mt 20:14; Mk 3:13; J 6:21, 67; Ac 18:21; Ro 7:15f, 19f; 2 Cor 8:10; Col 1:27; Rv 11:5. οὐ θέλω I will not Mt 21:30 v.l.)” (See Bibliography for Gems from John)

Our faith is the mechanism, the means, which God uses to accomplish his own sovereign will.

All of us need God’s will–his help–in returning to him, in being drawn to Christ, and in choosing Christ, because our own will was destroyed at the Fall (Genesis 3). Regeneration is necessary in order to believe, simply because dead men don’t choose—they cannot. Faith is for the living; dead people have no faith, because they are dead. God regenerates us in Christ—we choose to believe.




Sent and Endorsed

Week 7 Part 2 John 6:22-71: Focus–Jesus Was Sent by God the Father and Endorsed by Him

(Link to Outline of John)

John’s Theme: John 20:31 … these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.








































Faith Has Its Perfect Response



Jesus’ “I Am” Statements in John 6




Link To: Outline of the Gospel of John

Just the Facts, Ma’am

Week 6 Part 2 John 6:1-15: Jesus Feeds 5,000 People from One Lunch

(Link to Outline of John)

John’s Theme: John 20:31 … these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.

Parallel Passages: Matthew 14:13-21; Mark 6:30-44; Luke 9:10-17

Important Items to Notice jesus-bread-life-50000

  • The healing of the nobleman’s son, Jesus’ second sign recorded in John’s Gospel (see Outline of John, Week 5), occurred at the beginning of what is called the “Great Galilean Ministry.” This fourth sign, in which Jesus feeds 5,000 men plus women and children from five “loaves” of Mediterranean flat bread and two fish, occurs at the end of his Galilean ministry.
  • John 5 records how Jesus was rejected in Judea; John 6 shows how he was rejected in Galilee also.
  • In Judea, John records how the Jewish religious leaders rejected Jesus; here in Galilee, it was not just the leaders but his own disciples (the twelve excepted) who also rejected him.
  • This is the only miracle recorded in all four gospels (see links above, Parallel Passages).
  • As recorded by John, the disciples’ faith had not grown sufficiently for them to expect or even believe that Jesus could feed the enormous crowd from one boy’s lunch (John 6:5-9).
  • Nevertheless, the disciples obeyed Christ and arranged the men in orderly groups of about fifty each (Luke 9:14-15). Application: Obedience is a servant to faith in the outworking of miracles in our lives. Obeying Christ’s clear commands even when our faith falls short is sometimes enough for our miracle to happen (cf. the miraculous results of Peter’s obedience without faith in Luke 5:3-9).
  • Apart from the resurrection, this is the most well attested sign that Jesus performed, witnessed and participated in by over 5,000 people at once.

Many of Those Whom Jesus Fed Later Rejected Him (John 6:66).

John supplies a key to their actions:

NIV  John 6:15 Jesus, knowing that they intended to come and make him king by force, withdrew again to a mountain by himself.

This was an unruly mob ruled by the concrete reality of their stomachs. They wanted control over a puppet king of their own making, one who would do their own bidding and feed them on demand. They had no interest in Jesus as a person–who was this amazing man? Nor did their eyes lift to the heavens to recognize the source of the awesome power Jesus displayed. Their interest in him was earthbound, not spiritual.

The writer John explores their attitudes and motivations later as Chapter 6 continues.

Application: How does this miracle demonstrate John’s theme–that Jesus is the Son of God. What does this mean for me personally in my own life?


Week 6 Part 2 John 6:15-21: The Fifth Sign–Jesus Walks on Water


John’s Theme: John 20:31 … these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.


Genesis 1:2 …  And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.

After the miracle of the bread and fish, Jesus sent the crowds away. Then he sent his disciples away into the one boat down on the shore and bid them sail to the other side of the lake, while he himself retreated into the mountains to pray. He prayed for a good deal of the night, while his disciples rowed against the wind on high seas in a fierce storm. By the middle of the night, they were still out in the middle of the lake, suspended half way from shore to shore, about 2-1/2 miles out.

Suddenly, an apparition-like form came moving across the water, and the disciples in the boat were terrified. The form spoke in a familiar voice, “It is I; do not be afraid.” At this, they recognized that it was Jesus, and they willingly brought him into the boat. Again suddenly, all at once, they found themselves and the boat on the shore towards which they had laboriously been rowing for hours.

Question: How does this fifth sign achieve John’s thematic purpose of demonstrating that Jesus is the Son of God? How does this affect me in my life personally?


And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.

This miracle-story should be accepted by faith. If one does not believe it, however, let him not try to explain it away. Let him be honest and say, “I do not believe it.” (Hendriksen, vol. 1, 227)




Like Father Like Son

John 20:31 … these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.

Week Six: Discourse—Does Jesus Himself Claim to Be Divine? (Link to John 5:18-47)

Main Point: 34 Not that the testimony that I receive is from man, but I say these things so that you may be saved.

A Dramatic Scene

A GRAND miracle has just been performed—Jesus suddenly and completely heals a man who had been paralyzed for 38 years. The man picks up his sick-bed mat and carries it off.

“Wow!! Awesome!! Praise God!! We’ve never seen or heard anything like this in our whole lives!! Who is this man who did this healing?”

Wrong!—The religious leaders said, “You both picked the wrong day of the week for your dramatic little display. We are the keepers of the law, and it is against our law for anyone to heal, lift, and carry on the Sabbath. You are both sinners.”

Jesus: “Ah, but you are wrong. My Father and I are One, and we hold ultimate authority over the Sabbath. We created the Sabbath, not as a set of picayune laws to trip people up, but as a day of rest to help people weary from their labors.stained-glass-jesus

“I want to help you to understand and believe, so listen to me.”

Part One: If it quacks like a duck…

ESV  John 5:18 This was why the Jews were seeking all the more to kill him, because not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God.

19 So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of his own accord, but only what he sees the Father doing. For whatever the Father does, that the Son does likewise.

20 For the Father loves the Son and shows him all that he himself is doing. And greater works than these will he show him, so that you may marvel.

21 For as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, so also the Son gives life to whom he will.

22 The Father judges no one, but has given all judgment to the Son,

23 that all may honor the Son, just as they honor the Father. Whoever does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent him.

24 Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life.

25 “Truly, truly, I say to you, an hour is coming, and is now here, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live.

26 For as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son also to have life in himself.

27 And he has given him authority to execute judgment, because he is the Son of Man.

28 Do not marvel at this, for an hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear his voice

29 and come out, those who have done good to the  resurrection of life, and those who have done evil to the resurrection of judgment.

30 “I can do nothing on my own. As I hear, I judge, and my judgment is just, because I seek not my own will but the will of him who sent me.


It is possible for a son or daughter to share many physical and personality traits with their parent. This is because they share one-half of a complete set of genes. That’s a lot of genes for two people to have in common!

Nevertheless, parent and child are independent of each other in many ways, especially their thought life, their speech, and most importantly, their will (their center of volition, their driving force.)

When Jesus states in verse 19, “the Son can do nothing of his own accord,” he is not describing a shortcoming in himself. Rather, he is saying that there is nothing in the Son that is independent of the Father. They share everything, even their will. Christ is purely, exactly like his Father. And because this is so, they are One.

Hebrews 1:3 He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high,

Three strands of thought intertwine in Jesus’ discourse above.

1. The Son possesses all the Father possesses and does not possess any trait or quality, apart from his human nature, which the Father does not also possess. This indicates that Father and Son are identical (vss 18-20).

A limited analogy might be human fathers and sons, in which the father openly shows the son all he does—his garage and office, his hobbies, his work, his philosophies and ethic, and so on. As the son grows and matures, he displays his identity as his father’s son by taking on for himself many characteristics of his father.

2. Just as God has life in himself and the power of life over death, so the Son has life in himself and power of life over death (vss 21, 25-26). And, as the Father makes sovereign choices in matters of life versus death, so does the Son (vss 21, 24-26, 28-29).

3. God has given the final judgment to his Son (vss 22, 24, 27-30).


Part Two: The Witnesses


John 5:31 If I alone bear witness about myself, my testimony is not deemed true.

 32 There is another who bears witness about me, and I know that the testimony that he bears about me is true.

33 You sent to John, and he has borne witness to the truth.

34 Not that the testimony that I receive is from man, but I say these things so that you may be saved.

35 He was a burning and shining lamp, and you were willing to rejoice for a while in his light.

36 But the testimony that I have is greater than that of John. For the works that the Father has given me to accomplish, the very works that I am doing, bear witness about me that the Father has sent me.

37 And the Father who sent me has himself borne witness about me. His voice you have never heard, his form you have never seen,

38 and you do not have his word abiding in you, for you do not believe the one whom he has sent.

39 You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me,

40 yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life.

41 I do not receive glory from people.

42 But I know that you do not have the love of God within you.

43 I have come in my Father’s name, and you do not receive me. If another comes in his own name, you will receive him.

44 How can you believe, when you receive glory from one another and do not seek the glory that comes from the only God?

45 Do not think that I will accuse you to the Father. There is one who accuses you: Moses, on whom you have set your hope.

46 For if you believed Moses, you would believe me; for he wrote of me.

47 But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe my words?”


 Jesus Presents His Five Witnesses

1. Jesus Himself (vs 31).

I know that my testimony is true, because I know who my Father is and where I come from. Nevertheless, if I were the only witness to myself, you might not believe me. Therefore…

2. God the Father (vss 32, 36-38)

3. John the Baptist (vss 33-35)

I don’t need John’s testimony, as I have plenty of divine testimony, which is far stronger.  John the Baptist was sent for you, as a herald to announce my coming and to prepare the soil for the good seed. As regards John the Baptist, you are like the seed that fell on stony ground (Luke 8:5-6).

4. Jesus’ Signs and Miracles (vs 36)

These were given to me by God my Father, and none could perform these miracles without his endorsement (John 3:2).

5. Scripture and the Prophets (39-40, 45-46)

The Scripture and prophets all speak of me, especially Moses, whom you adore and on whom you place your trust. I don’t need to condemn you at the final judgment—Moses will condemn you by the words he spoke about me, which you neither believed nor received (Hebrews 1:1-2).


Jesus Accuses His Accusers (37-47)

1. They do not know the Father (vs 37).

2. God’s Word does not abide in them (vs 38, 43).

3. They do not believe the One whom God sent (vs 38).

4. Their hearts are hard (vs 40).

5. The love of God is not in them (vs 42).

6. They refuse to receive the One God sent (# 3 above, vss 38, 43), yet they will receive another who comes in his own name (promoting his own glory and not having endorsement from God).

7. They seek and receive glory from the wrong places (vs 44).

8. They neither understand nor believe their hero, Moses (vss 45-46).

9. They misunderstand the basics (vs 47).


Link to Outline: Gospel of John


Blessed Are the Meek


Jesus Heals Paralyzed Man in a Miraculous Display of Grace, Love, and Power

 Click here for: Link to the Outline of the Gospel of John

 ESV  John 20:31 … these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.

Week Five: The Third Sign–Healing the Paralyzed Man (Link to John 5:1-18)

ESV  John 5:1 After this there was a feast of the Jews, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. 2 Now there is in Jerusalem by the Sheep Gate a pool, in Aramaic called Bethesda, which has five roofed colonnades. 3 In these lay a multitude of invalids–blind, lame, and paralyzed. 4  5 One man was there who had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. 6 When Jesus saw him lying there and knew that he had already been there a long time, he said to him, “Do you want to be healed?” 7 The sick man answered him, “Sir, I have no one to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up, and while I am going another steps down before me.” 8 Jesus said to him, “Get up, take up your bed, and walk.” 9 And at once the man was healed, and he took up his bed and walked. Now that day was the Sabbath. 10 So the Jews said to the man who had been healed, “It is the Sabbath, and it is not lawful for you to take up your bed.” 11 But he answered them, “The man who healed me, that man said to me, ‘Take up your bed, and walk.'” 12 They asked him, “Who is the man who said to you, ‘Take up your bed and walk’?” 13 Now the man who had been healed did not know who it was, for Jesus had withdrawn, as there was a crowd in the place. 14 Afterward Jesus found him in the temple and said to him, “See, you are well! Sin no more, that nothing worse may happen to you.” 15 The man went away and told the Jews that it was Jesus who had healed him. 16 And this was why the Jews were persecuting Jesus, because he was doing these things on the Sabbath. 17 But Jesus answered them, “My Father is working until now, and I am working.” 18 This was why the Jews were seeking all the more to kill him, because not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God.

Summary: While the first two signs both occurred in Galilee, this the third sign occurs in Jerusalem. Its reservoir was uncovered in 1888 at the time of repair work on the church of St. Anne in northeast Jerusalem. (Hendriksen, Vol. 1, 190) Jesus saw a man there who was “withered,” that is, dried up or paralyzed. He couldn’t walk and had other difficulties with movement (vs 7). Jesus knew that he had been there a long time and asked him, “Do you want to be healed?” Not giving a direct answer, the man described his difficulty in being healed by the only means he knew–self-effort to move his disabled body into the water quickly, before others, who had outside help, got in. Apparently, they believed that only the first person into the water during moments of “stirring” would be healed. Jesus then gave him a direct command, “Get up, take up your bed [which was about the size of a yoga mat], and walk.” And the man did so.

It happened to be the Sabbath when Jesus healed the man. Immediately the religious leaders of the day challenged the man with the accusation that lifting and carrying his mat on the Sabbath was illegal, according to their Jewish law, as interpreted by them. He announced his healing to them by saying that the man who healed him had told him to pick up his mat and walk. Not knowing who the man was, the conversation ended. The healed man next shows up in the temple, where it says, Jesus “found” and encouraged him with the words, “See, you are well! Sin no more, that nothing worse may happen to you.”

The man went back to the Jewish leaders and told them that Jesus is the one who had healed him. From that moment on, the Jewish leaders began to persecute Jesus for breaking the Sabbath law by healing and commanding the one healed to pick up his mat and walk. When confronted, Jesus replied, “My Father is working until now, and I am working.” The Jewish leaders understood this statement to mean that Jesus was calling God his Father, thereby claiming to be the Son of God, equal to God. From that moment forward, they not only persecuted Jesus, but they also wanted to kill him (vs 18).

Comparisons and Contrasts Between This Sign and the Two Previous Signs–1) water to wine (John 2:1-11) and 2) healing the nobleman’s son (John 4:43-54)

  1. In changing water to wine, Jesus demonstrated his power over inanimate nature and the laws of physics and chemistry. By changing matter itself, he demonstrated himself to be outside the material realm. In the two signs of healing, Jesus demonstrated his re-creative powers over biological matter.
  2. In the first sign, the inanimate substance displayed no self-will, for such is nonexistent. In the second sign, Jesus responded to the will of the sick boy’s father, a third party. In the third sign, Jesus responded to his own will, since the paralyzed man, unlike the boy’s father, requested nothing.
  3. In the first sign, the initiator of the encounter with the water was Christ in the sense that the water asked for nothing, while Christ responded to a direct request from his mother. The nobleman initiated the encounter by persistently “begging” Jesus to heal his son. Christ initiated the healing of the paralyzed man with no prompting whatsoever, thereby placing his own sovereignty of choice in bold relief. (Why did he heal this man and not someone else or many of the “multitude”?
  4. Both the nobleman petitioning for his son and the paralyzed man at the outset displayed insufficient faith, the paralyzed man showing far less than the nobleman.
  5. This is the first miraculous sign for which Jesus is persecuted.

A Sign That Displays Christ’s Amazing Power, Grace, and Loving Compassion for the Powerless, Unloved, and Alone

Some commentators appear to criticize the paralyzed man for a perceived lack of will, as though he engaged in a self-pity party. Yet, Lazarus, a dead man who had no will, is never criticized for himself not having improved his dead condition. Nor is Saul, who became the Apostle Paul, ever criticized for not having initiated his own salvation. Thirty-eight years is a very long time. The text indicates that the paralyzed man had attempted on several occasions to move himself into the healing water before the others (vs 7). And if his desire for healing had died along with his hope of its ever becoming a reality for him, doesn’t this all the more establish Christ’s perception and compassion?

Of all the multitude of disabled people lying by the sides of the pool (vs 3), Jesus chose this one, who had grown old with infirmity as his sole companion. This shows us that Christ is indeed sovereign in his election and that salvation and healing are by grace and not by any virtue of will-power (John 1:13) or positive thinking.

Luke 19:10 For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.

Similarities with Jesus’ Raising of Lazarus from the Dead (John 11:1-54)

When Jesus raised Lazarus, no one, not even his believing sisters Martha and Mary, expected or asked him to perform such a miracle. Likewise, the possibility of healing never entered the paralyzed man’s head.

Jesus began his miracle by calling out to the dead man, “Lazarus…” Jesus began his miracle of healing by calling out to the paralyzed man, “Do you want to be healed?”

Jesus finished his miracle by commanding Lazarus, “…come out.” Jesus finished his miracle by commanding the paralyzed man, “Get up, take up your bed, and walk.”

  • In Lazarus’ case, coming back to life had to occur with the calling out of his name, since a dead man can neither hear nor obey a command to “come out.”
  • In the paralyzed man’s case, healing had to occur simultaneously with the command to “Get up, take up your bed, and walk,” since a paralyzed man cannot obey such a command. The text then says, “and at once the man was healed” and obeyed.
  • In both of these cases, the initial calling was effective: 1) Lazarus came back to life, and 2) the paralyzed man’s interest and hope had been aroused.

Isaiah 60:1 Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the LORD has risen upon you.

Ephesians 5:14 for anything that becomes visible is light. Therefore it says, “Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.”

Ephesians 2:5 even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ–by grace you have been saved–

Isaiah 26:19 Your dead shall live; their bodies shall rise. You who dwell in the dust, awake and sing for joy! For your dew is a dew of light, and the earth will give birth to the dead.

  • Application: Do you recall a specific “wake-up call” from the Lord? If so, why not share your story with another?


  • The formerly paralyzed man now healed gets chastised and interrogated by the Jewish leaders for breaking their law by lifting and carrying on the Sabbath day, the day of his great and wonderful healing.
  • He goes to the temple.
  • Jesus, again taking the initiative, “finds” him in the temple and performs one of only two “follow-ups” ever presented in all four Gospels (of which this writer is aware), by leading him towards a healing of the spiritual condition of his soul. Here again, Christ prominently displays his great love for the unlovely and otherwise unloved. (See John 9:34-38 for the other follow-up.)
  • The healed man returns to his interrogators, presumably the only people besides Jesus who knew of his healing, to boldly proclaim his positive confession that “it was Jesus” who had healed him.
  • The Jewish leaders turn upon and persecute Jesus for healing on the Sabbath day (vs 16).
  • They later determine to kill Jesus for announcing himself to be equal to God, and therefore, divine (vss 17-18).


Jesus Builds Our Insufficient Faith

Click here for: Link to the Outline of the Gospel of John

ESV  John 20:31 … these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.

Week Five: The Second Sign–Healing the Nobleman’s Son (Link to John 4:43-54)

Recap: In the First Sign–the wedding at Cana (John 2:1-11)–Jesus showed himself to be the Son of God by demonstrating his control over the natural world itself. Only someone above and beyond the natural world, someone who is outside of and not part of the natural world, could change the very substance of matter from one molecule (water) to others (wine). Because God is invisible Spirit, and Jesus was also truly physical man, he is the Son of God, rather than God the Father.

What was the Second Sign?

The second sign pointing to the deity of Christ he also performed in Cana of Galilee. In this sign, Jesus heals a nobleman’s son, who was on his deathbed sick (John 4:47).

  • he completely healed him (John 4:50-51)
  • he did so by speaking a Word (3 words–“Your son lives.”) (John 4:50) (lives is present tense in Greek, not future–your son now lives)
  • he healed the man’s son from a distance of about 16 miles (the distance from Cana to Capernaum)
  • the father checked with his servants to ascertain that the healing occurred at the exact time when Jesus spoke the word (John 4:52-53)

Again, a long distance healing accomplished by speaking a word can only be performed by someone who is themself supernatural. Jesus Christ is this person.

Troublesome Questions

1. Was Jesus first reply to the nobleman a rebuke?

ESV  John 4:48 So Jesus said to him, “Unless you see signs and wonders you will not believe.”


  • It sure sounds like one!
  • The commentators I have consulted agree that Jesus was rebuking the man.


John 20:31 … these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.

John 10:10 …I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.

  • We know that Jesus is Love; therefore, any seeming rebuke does not have any sort of negative motivation whatsoever. We must search for a positive motivation.
  • The verses above show that Jesus came to bring life to dying people. All people die. He came to bring eternal life–

John 3:16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.

  • The pathway to eternal life is belief in Jesus as the Son of God.
  • The pathway to eternal life is NOT having seen a miracle, believing in miracles, or having one’s beloved son miraculously healed.
  • Jesus’ observation was that the religious people of that day, of whom the nobleman was one, were MISSING THE MARK.
  • He didn’t want them to miss out on eternal life by going for the EVIDENCE rather than the PRIZE. Christ is the prize; miracles are mere evidence whose purpose is to lead people to belief in Christ as Son of God. Jesus’ complaint (rebuke) is that saving belief was not there, dependent as it was on the constant presence of miracles. Miracles don’t save; Christ saves. The means is belief in Christ, whether or not one has a miracle.
  • Two more shortcomings of the nobleman: 1) he did not initially believe that Jesus could heal from a distance (a greater miracle than laying on hands), 2) nor did he believe that Jesus’ power could extend after death itself (he thought that Jesus needed to get there before his son died)

2. How did Jesus build the man’s insufficient faith?


  • Step One: He made the man wait. He did not go rushing down to heal the man’s son at the first request. Waiting is a struggle that exercises our faith muscles. Either our faith will grow, or we will give up in disbelief. The nobleman’s faith grew as he persisted in exercising the faith that he did already have.
    • Applications:
      • Are we prepared to wait for our miracle, or do we give up if we do not receive an immediate affirmative reply?
      • Do we place our faith, our trust, and our hope in the goodness and love of God and his Son, even when circumstances seem to say otherwise? (Example: How could a loving God permit such-and-such?)
  • Step Two: Jesus did heal the man’s son, but not the way the man had asked. As a result, the man’s faith in Jesus clearly grew.
    • Before this rebuke, the man believed that Jesus needed to be physically present in order to heal his son. After this rebuke, the man believed in Jesus’ word and in his power to heal at a great distance.

John 4:50 Jesus said to him, “Go; your son will live.” The man believed the word that Jesus spoke to him and went on his way.

  • Step Three: Finally, the man and his entire household believed that Jesus is the Son of God. They now have eternal life, which is far, far better than an extension of our temporary existence.
    • Applications:
      • How “miracle-dependent” is my faith in Christ? If the miracles dry up, does my faith also dry up?
      • Do I submit to the faith-growing discipline of being asked by God to wait for my miracle, to wait for his answer to my prayer?

A Word of Encouragement

Fortunately, God’s answers to our prayers for help are not dependent on our faulty faith. Did you know that Jesus never turned down anyone’s request for help or healing? The gospels record that he healed everyone who ever came to him. Jesus wants to build our faith, not destroy it. God knows just how much we can bear. He often allows us to have a bit more than we think we can bear, because he wants us to call out to him. Encourage yourself today by thinking about all the times God rescued you and answered your prayers with a yes! God loves his children.

For Further Study:

Both David and Paul were men whom God greatly loved. Both of these men received not just a delay but a NO to their request for healing.

  1. David’s son died. (2 Samuel 11:27-12:25)
  2. God did not heal Paul’s eyes. (2 Corinthians 12:7-10)

What does this tell us about the relationship between miracles and saving faith?



Living Water


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