In John chapter 5, Jesus graciously heals a man who had been lame for 38 years, and this man’s lameness is presented as a symbol of our spiritual inability. Just as we’re spiritually blind towards God and can’t even see his kingdom unless we’re first granted new life, so too all of us by nature are unable to walk in his paths or climb our way up to heaven. As the authorities interrogate Jesus in this chapter for healing this disabled man, Jesus turns the tables on his accusers by revealing himself to be their ultimate Judge. Not only is he able to raise up the lame and to make them walk, but he’s also the one who will “raise up the dead and give them life.”
Shane Rosenthal: John 5 has a lot of legal language. The frequency of key forensic terms suggest that it can be seen as a defense in an interrogation or trial. To judge occurs twice. To witness is employed seven times, and testimony is used four times.
Craig Marshall: It’s really helpful to have that type of language pointed out. It’s not something that I noticed upon a first reading of that. I like how it starts with them interrogating the man who was healed, and then he shifts it to Jesus. Go talk to that guy. And then Jesus, ultimately, turns the tables on the accusers. It’s quite a progression.
Term to Learn
1. Good works are only such as God hath commanded in His holy Word, and not such as, without the warrant thereof, are devised by men, out of blind zeal, or upon any pretence of good intention.
2. These good works, done in obedience to God’s commandments, are the fruits and evidences of a true and lively faith: and by them believers manifest their thankfulness, strengthen their assurance, edify their brethren, adorn the profession of the gospel, stop the mouths of the adversaries, and glorify God, whose workmanship they are, created in Christ Jesus thereunto, that, having their fruit unto holiness, they may have the end, eternal life.
3. Their ability to do good works is not at all of themselves, but wholly from the Spirit of Christ. And that they may be enabled thereunto, beside the graces they have already received, there is required an actual influence of the same Holy Spirit to work in them to will, and to do, of His good pleasure: yet are they not hereupon to grow negligent, as if they were not bound to perform any duty unless upon a special motion of the Spirit; but they ought to be diligent in stirring up the grace of God that is in them.
(From the Westminster Confession of Faith, Chapter 16, Sections 1-3, “Of Good Works”)