Richard Burridge: John Chapter 5

John 5:1-9. The discourse of Jesus takes place during the Feast of Tabernacles when Jews built booths to commemorate wandering in the wilderness; it is also the festival of water. After the initial baptism of Jesus:

  1. Water into wine
  2. Being born of water
  3. The well.

Chapter 5 is also about healing and water. The best manuscripts do not mention the angel (John 5:3-4).

John 5:9-18. There is a puzzle (cf Vermes - KC) over condemning Jesus for healing on the Sabbath (Mishnah, written just after Jesus in Sabbath 7:32 defines 39 prohibitions). Jesus says that god works on the Sabbath (things still grow, &c) and claims to represent God but to be totally dependent on him.

John 5:19-29. Discourses are not reportage, they result from careful theological reflection. There is a sharp divide between turning to God and judgment which simultaneously operates in the present and future.

John 5:30-38. John puts Jesus on trial before "The Jews" long before the formal proceedings; this is why "witness" and "testify" are so important. In accordance with Jewish law (and no evidential technology), at least two agreeing witnesses were vital. Jesus' witness to himself is inadequate so he calls John Baptist. He then calls his "signs" to witness of his sending from God; but God no longer 'speaks' as he did to Moses and there is no prophesy about Jesus. Who is on trial, Jesus or the Jews?

John 5:39-47. Jesus claims that his listeners do not understand scripture and, therefore, do not understand him; they are a mutual admiration society; Moses was used to accuse Jesus of breaking the Sabbath but Moses points towards Jesus.

Taken from:

Burridge, Richard: John: The People's Bible Commentary, The Bible Reading Fellowship, revised 2008, ISBN 978 1 84101 570 5.

KC VII/08

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