John 5:6
When Jesus saw him lie, and knew that he had been now a long time in that case, he saith unto him, Wilt thou be made whole?
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(6) And now Jesus sees him lying there among the throng of sufferers, and every ache of every limb, and. every sorrow of every heart told of the perfection of life marred by the curse of sin; but this man’s own sin had left its mark upon him, which men may read and condemn, though within the whited fairness of their own outer deeds, the soul’s life was by sin palsied to its very core. But he hears, in tones that went to the heart as he listened to them, the strange question, stranger indeed than “Wilt thou. . . .,” “Wiliest thou to be made whole?”

5:1-9 We are all by nature impotent folk in spiritual things, blind, halt, and withered; but full provision is made for our cure, if we attend to it. An angel went down, and troubled the water; and what disease soever it was, this water cured it, but only he that first stepped in had benefit. This teaches us to be careful, that we let not a season slip which may never return. The man had lost the use of his limbs thirty-eight years. Shall we, who perhaps for many years have scarcely known what it has been to be a day sick, complain of one wearisome night, when many others, better than we, have scarcely known what it has been to be a day well? Christ singled this one out from the rest. Those long in affliction, may comfort themselves that God keeps account how long. Observe, this man speaks of the unkindness of those about him, without any peevish reflections. As we should be thankful, so we should be patient. Our Lord Jesus cures him, though he neither asked nor thought of it. Arise, and walk. God's command, Turn and live; Make ye a new heart; no more supposes power in us without the grace of God, his distinguishing grace, than this command supposed such power in the impotent man: it was by the power of Christ, and he must have all the glory. What a joyful surprise to the poor cripple, to find himself of a sudden so easy, so strong, so able to help himself! The proof of spiritual cure, is our rising and walking. Has Christ healed our spiritual diseases, let us go wherever he sends us, and take up whatever he lays upon us; and walk before him.An infirmity - A weakness. We know not what his disease was. We know only that it disabled him from walking, and that it was of very long standing. It was doubtless regarded as incurable. 6. saw him lie, and knew, &c.—As He doubtless visited the spot just to perform this cure, so He knows where to find His patient, and the whole previous history of his case (Joh 2:25).

Wilt thou be made whole?—Could anyone doubt that a sick man would like to be made whole, or that the patients came thither, and this man had returned again and again, just in hope of a cure? But our Lord asked the question. (1) To fasten attention upon Himself; (2) By making him detail his case to deepen in him the feeling of entire helplessness; (3) By so singular a question to beget in his desponding heart the hope of a cure. (Compare Mr 10:51).

Christ, as God, knew the particular time when this infirmity seized him, which was eight years or upward before our Saviour’s birth, and about the time when the temple was re-edified, or rather enlarged and further adorned, by Herod. As man, he pitieth his case; he asketh him if he was willing to be made whole. Not that he doubted of his willingness; for what sick man was ever unwilling to be healed? Besides that, he knew that the poor man lay there for that very purpose; but that he might make him declare his miserable, helpless state and condition, and draw out his faith and hope in himself; and from his answer take an occasion to heal him, and make the spectators more attentive to his miracle.

When Jesus saw him lie,.... In such a helpless condition:

and knew that he had been now a long time, in that case, or "in his disease", as the Ethiopic version supplies; even seven years before Christ was born; which is a proof of his omniscience: the words may be literally rendered, as they are in the Vulgate Latin and Syriac versions, "that he had had much time"; or as the Arabic version, "that he had had many years"; that is had lived many years, and was now an old man; he had his disorder eight and thirty years, and which seems from John 5:14 to have arisen from some sin of his, from a vicious course of living, perhaps intemperance; so that he might be a middle aged man, when this distemper first seized him, and therefore must be now stricken in years:

he saith unto him, wilt thou be made whole? which question is put, not as if it was a doubt, whether he was desirous of it, or not; for to what purpose did he lie and wait there else? but partly to raise in the man an expectation of a cure, and attention in the people to it: and it may be his sense and meaning is, wilt thou be made whole on this day, which was the sabbath; or hast thou faith that thou shall be made whole in this way, or by me?

When Jesus saw him lie, and knew that he had been now a long time in that case, he saith unto him, Wilt thou be made whole?
John 5:6-7. Τοῦτονἔχει] two points which excited the compassion of Jesus, where γνούς, however (as in John 4:1), does not denote a supernatural knowledge of this external (otherwise in John 5:14) and easily known or ascertained fact (against Godet and the early expositors).

ἔχει] i.e. ἐν ἀσθενείᾳ, John 5:5.

θέλεις, κ.τ.λ.] Wilt thou become whole? The self-evident nature of this desire made the question an appropriate one to rouse the sufferer’s attention and expectation, and this was the object Jesus had in view in order to the commencement of His miraculous work. This question was inappropriate for the purpose (de Wette thinks) of merely beginning a conversation upon the subject. Paulus falsely supposes that the man might have been a dishonest beggar, feigning sickness, and that Jesus asks him with reproving emphasis, “Wilt thou be made whole? art thou in earnest?” So, too, Ammon; while Lange regards him as simply languid in will, and that Christ again roused his dormant will; but there is nothing of this in the text, and just as little of Luthardt’s notion, that the question was meant for all the people of whom the sick man is supposed to be the type. This miracle alone furnishes an example of an unsolicited interrogation upon Christ’s part (a feature which Weisse urges against it); but in the case of the man born blind, chap. 9, we have also an unsolicited healing.

ἄνθρωπον οὐκ ἔχω] ad morbum accedebat inopia, Grotius; ἄνθρ. emphatically takes the lead; the ἔρχομαι ἐγώ follows answers to it.

ὅταν ταραχθῇ τὸ ὕδωρ] The occasional and intermittent disturbance of the water is not to be understood as a regular occurrence, but as something sudden and quickly passing away. Hence the man’s waiting and complaint.

βάλῃ] throw, denoting a hasty conveyance before the momentary bubbling was over.

ἔρχομαι] he therefore was obliged to help himself along, but slowly.

ἄλλος πρὸ ἐμοῦ] so that the place where the bubbling appeared was occupied by another. Observe the sing.; the short bubbling is to be regarded as occurring only in one fixed springing-point in the pool, so that one person only could let it exert its influence upon him. The apocryphal John 5:4 has perverted this circumstance, in conformity with a popular superstition, which probably reaches as far back as the time of Christ.

John 5:6. Jesus when He saw the man lying and had ascertained (γνοὺς, having learned from the man or his friends) that already he had passed a long time (in that infirmity) says: θέλεις ὑγιὴς γενέσθαι; “Do you wish to become whole (healthy)?” This question was put to attract the man’s attention and awaken hope. But the man is hopeless: it is not a question of will, he says, but of opportunity. His very weakness enabled others to anticipate him; ἐν ᾧ ἔρχομαι ἐγὼ, “while I am coming,” he could, then, move a little, but not quickly enough. At each bubbling up of the water, apparently only one could be healed. The ἄλλος πρὸ ἐμοῦ καταβαίνει was a great aggravation of his case.

6. knew] Or, perceived, perhaps supernaturally (see on John 16:19), but He might learn it from the bystanders: the fact was very likely notorious.

Wilt thou?] Or, more strongly, Dost thou will? Note that the man does not ask first. Here and in the case of the man born blind (9), as also of Malchus’ ear (Luke 22:51), Christ heals without being asked to do so. Excepting the healing of the royal official’s son all Christ’s miracles in the Fourth Gospel are spontaneous. On no other occasion does Christ ask a question without being addressed first: why does He now ask a question of which the answer was so obvious? Probably in order to rouse the sick man out of his lethargy and despondency. It was the first step towards the man’s having sufficient faith: he must be inspired with some expectation of being cured. The question has nothing to do with religious scruples; ‘Art thou willing to be made whole, although it is the Sabbath?’

John 5:6. Κατακείμενον, lying) He seems by this time to have habitually given up the attempt to get before others.—γνούς, knowing) though no one informed Him.—λέγει, He saith) of His own accord. Christ gives both a handle for His seeking aid, and the help itself.

Verse 6. - When Jesus saw him lying there, and perceived (came to know by his searching glance and intuitive knowledge of the history of others) that he had during a long time already been (in that condition, or in sickness,) said unto him - spontaneously, in the royalty of his benefactions, not demanding from the man even the faith to be healed, and dealing with him almost as he did with the dead - Wilt thou be made whole? The leper came beseeching him, "Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean." The leper was quite sure of his own intense desire for cleansing, and all he questioned was the will, not the power, of Jesus. The admission of the power was a tacit cry for healing. The questioning of Jesus on this occasion involved an offer of mercy. "Dost thou veritably wish for health and strength?" The question implies a doubt. The man may have got so accustomed to his life of indolence and mendicancy as to regard deliverance from his apparent wretchedness, with all consequent responsibilities of work and energy and self-dependence, as a doubtful blessing. He whined out, with professional drawl, his oft-told story, reflecting very much upon his lovelessness and quarrelsomeness, and ugly temper. There are many who are not anxious for salvation, with all the demands it makes upon the life, with its summons to self-sacrifice and the repression of self-indulgence. There are many religious impostors who prefer tearing open their spiritual wounds to the first passerby, and hugging their grievance, to being made into robust men upon whom the burden of responsibility will immediately fall. In this case the sign of his palsied nature was written upon his face, and was probably known to every passerby. John 5:6Had been now a long time (πολὺν ἤδη χρόνον ἔχει)

Literally, he hath already much time.

Wilt thou (θέλεις)

Not merely, do you wish, but are you in earnest? See on Matthew 1:19. Jesus appeals to the energy of his will. Not improbably he had fallen into apathy through his long sickness. Compare Acts 3:4; John 7:17.

Whole (ὑγιὴς)


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