|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
5:10-16 Those eased of the punishment of sin, are in danger of returning to sin, when the terror and restraint are over, unless Divine grace dries up the fountain. The misery believers are made whole from, warns us to sin no more, having felt the smart of sin. This is the voice of every providence, Go, and sin no more. Christ saw it necessary to give this caution; for it is common for people, when sick, to promise much; when newly recovered, to perform only something; but after awhile to forget all. Christ spoke of the wrath to come, which is beyond compare worse than the many hours, nay, weeks and years of pain, some wicked men have to suffer in consequence of their unlawful indulgences. And if such afflictions are severe, how dreadful will be the everlasting punishment of the wicked!
Verses 9b-16. -
(2) The outbreak of hostility due to the breach of the sabbatic law. Verse 9b. - Now it was the sabbath on that day. The form of the expression implies that it was one of the festival sabbaths rather than the weekly sabbath. These days, however, received the same reverence, and were observed with nearly the same rites and restrictions, as the ordinary sabbaths. This statement is the keynote of the great discourse which fellows, and it is made to prepare the way for the subsequent incidents. The Jews; i.e. the authorities, either the rabbis or Sanhedrists who were present in the crowd which gathered round the pool of Bethesda, or filled the neighbouring courts, are to be distinguished from "the multitude," or from the people generally. The designation evidently means the leading folk, the social censors, the hierarchy, who very soon displayed in marked fashion their jealousy and hatred of Jesus. The Jews therefore said to the man who had been healed, It is sabbath, and it is not lawful for thee to carry thy bed. Judging by the letter of the Law (Exodus 20:10 and Exodus 35:3), and by the precedents of Scripture (Numbers 15:32-35), and by the special injunctions of the prophets (Jeremiah 17:21-23; Nehemiah 13:15, etc.), the man was infringing a positive command. Rabbinism had indeed declared that, in cases affecting life and health, the law of the sabbath was legitimately held in abeyance; but this relaxation was so hedged about with restrictions that the poor man and the layman were unable to apply the rules. The rabbinic interpretations of the sabbatic law concerning burden bearing were so intricate and sophistical that the entire majesty of the law, and the merciful intent of the prohibition, were concealed and vitiated. Apart from these complications, the man was prima facie disobeying the letter of the law. 'Shabbath,' fol. 6, a, declares that if unwittingly a burden was carried on the sabbath, the transgressor was bound to bring a sin offering; if with knowledge, he must be stoned.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
The Jews therefore said unto him that was cured,.... When they saw him, either at the place, or as he walked through the streets, with his bed on his back:
it is the sabbath day: do not you know it? surely you forget yourself, or you would never be guilty of such an action as this;
it is not lawful for thee to carry thy bed. It was forbid by the law, to carry any burden on the sabbath day; see Nehemiah 13:15; for
"carrying out and bringing in anything, from one place to another, is said (x) to be work, and one of the principal works;''
and therefore forbid by the law, which says, "thou shall not do any work"; and one of the traditions of the elders is this (y),
"whoever carries anything out (i.e. on the sabbath day), whether in his right hand, or in his left, in his bosom, or , "on his shoulder", is guilty; for so carried the Kohathites.''
And particularly it is said (z), that
"he that rolls up a bed of the brasiers or tinkers (i.e. on the sabbath day) is bound to a sin offering.''
Which was a fold up bed, such as tinkers, and those that went from city to city to work, had; and who carried their beds with them, as the gloss observes; and were so far from being lawful to be carried by them, on the sabbath, that they might not fold them up.
(x) Maimon. Hilchot Sabbat, c. 12. sect. 6. (y) Misn. Sabbat, c. 10. sect. 3.((z) T. Bab. Sabbat, fol. 47. 1. & 138. 1.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
10-16. The Jews—that is, those in authority. (See on Joh 1:19.)
it is not lawful to carry thy bed—a glorious testimony to the cure, as instantaneous and complete, from the lips of the most prejudiced! (And what a contrast does it, as all our Lord's miracles, present to the bungling miracles of the Church of Rome!) In ordinary circumstances, the rulers had the law on their side (Ne 13:15; Jer 17:21). But when the man referred them to "Him that had made him whole" (Joh 5:11) as his authority, the argument was resistless. Yet they ingeniously parried the thrust, asking him, not who had "made him whole"—that would have condemned themselves and defeated their purpose—but who had bidden him "take up his bed and walk," in other words, who had dared to order a breach of the sabbath? It is time we were looking after Him—thus hoping to shake the man's faith in his Healer.
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