February 20, 2005 – February 26, 2005
“The Lord is well pleased for his righteousness’ sake; he will magnify the law, and make [it] honourable.” “He shall not fail nor be discouraged, till he have set judgment in the earth: and the isles shall wait for his law.” Isaiah 42:21, 4.
Suggested Reading: John 5; The Desire of Ages, 201–213.
From the lesson on the first cleansing of the temple, we found that the priests, rulers, and most of the people rejected the work of Jesus to cleanse their hearts from sin. They decided to challenge His work and mission. In this lesson, we are going to study the effect that this attitude had on the relationship between the mission of Jesus and the organized church, its leaders, and people.
1 What is the subject of John chapter five? John 5:1–9.
note: “Jesus was again at Jerusalem. Walking alone, in apparent meditation and prayer, He came to the pool. He saw the wretched sufferers watching for that which they supposed to be their only chance of cure. He longed to exercise His healing power, and make every sufferer whole. But it was the Sabbath day. Multitudes were going to the temple for worship, and He knew that such an act of healing would so excite the prejudice of the Jews as to cut short His work.
“But the Saviour saw one case of supreme wretchedness. It was that of a man who had been a helpless cripple for thirty-eight years. His disease was in a great degree the result of his own sin, and was looked upon as a judgment from God.” The Desire of Ages, 201, 202.
2 What two things did Jesus tell the man to do? John 5:8.
note: “Jesus does not ask this sufferer to exercise faith in Him. He simply says, ‘Rise, take up thy bed, and walk.’ But the man’s faith takes hold upon that word. Every nerve and muscle thrills with new life, and healthful action comes to his crippled limbs. Without question he sets his will to obey the command of Christ, and all his muscles respond to his will. Springing to his feet, he finds himself an active man.” The Desire of Ages, 202, 203.
“At once the man was cured; he picked up his mat and walked.” John 5:9, NIV.
3 How did the Jews respond to the miraculous healing of this invalid of 38 years? John 5:16, 18.
note: “These rulers knew well that only One had shown Himself able to perform this miracle; but they wished for direct proof that it was Jesus, that they might condemn Him as a Sabbath-breaker. In their judgment He had not only broken the law in healing the sick man on the Sabbath, but had committed sacrilege in bidding him bear away his bed. . . .
“Jesus was brought before the Sanhedrin to answer the charge of Sabbathbreaking. Had the Jews at this time been an independent nation, such a charge would have served their purpose for putting Him to death.” The Desire of Ages, 204.
4 What instruction did Jesus give to the man He had healed when He met him later in the temple? John 5:14.
note: “In the temple Jesus met the man who had been healed. He had come to bring a sin offering and also a thank offering for the great mercy he had received. Finding him among the worshipers, Jesus made Himself known, with the warning words, ‘Behold, thou art made whole: sin no more, lest a worse thing come unto thee.’ [John 5:14.]” The Desire of Ages, 204.
comment: All through His ministry we find Jesus doing the work the Father had sent Him to this earth to do, to remove sin from the hearts of the people. But Jesus had another work to do also.
5 What other work did Jesus come to this earth to do? Isaiah 42:21, 4.
note: “Jesus had come to ‘magnify the law, and make it honorable.’ He was not to lessen its dignity, but to exalt it. The scripture says, ‘He shall not fail nor be discouraged, till He have set judgment in the earth.’ Isaiah 42:21, 4. He had come to free the Sabbath from those burdensome requirements that had made it a curse instead of a blessing.
“For this reason He had chosen the Sabbath upon which to perform the act of healing at Bethesda. He could have healed the sick man as well on any other day of the week; or He might simply have cured him, without bidding him bear away his bed. But this would not have given Him the opportunity He desired.” The Desire of Ages, 206.
6 What was the opportunity Jesus desired to bring about by healing the man on the Sabbath day and instructing him to carry his bed through the streets?
note: “Among the afflicted ones at the pool He selected the worst case upon whom to exercise His healing power, and bade the man carry his bed through the city in order to publish the great work that had been wrought upon him. This would raise the question of what it was lawful to do on the Sabbath, and would open the way for Him to denounce the restrictions of the Jews in regard to the Lord’s day, and to declare their traditions void.” The Desire of Ages, 206.
comment: Jesus came, not only to remove sin from the hearts of men, but also to remove the rubbish of men’s writings and traditions that hid the truth from the eyes of the people.
7 Jesus acknowledged that the Jews were diligent students of the Scripture, but what did He say about their relationship to Him? John 5:39, 40.
note: “And the Father who sent me has himself testified concerning me. You have never heard his voice nor seen his form, nor does his word dwell in you, for you do not believe the one he sent. You diligently study the Scriptures because you think that by them you possess eternal life. These are the Scriptures that testify about me, yet you refuse to come to me to have life.
“I do not accept praise from men, but I know you. I know that you do not have the love of God in your hearts. I have come in my Father’s name, and you do not accept me; but if someone else comes in his own name, you will accept him. How can you believe if you accept praise from one another, yet make no effort to obtain the praise that comes from the only God?” John 5:37–44, NIV.
8 If the Jews had not interposed in the ministry of Jesus, what would have resulted from His work?
note: “If the priests and rabbis had not interposed, His teaching would have wrought such a reformation as this world has never witnessed.” The Desire of Ages, 305.
9 How did the priests and rabbis try to misrepresent Jesus and His mission?
note: “But in order to maintain their own power, these leaders determined to break down the influence of Jesus. His arraignment before the Sanhedrin, and an open condemnation of His teachings, would aid in effecting this; for the people still had great reverence for their religious leaders. Whoever dared to condemn the rabbinical requirements, or attempt to lighten the burdens they had brought upon the people, was regarded as guilty, not only of blasphemy, but of treason. On this ground the rabbis hoped to excite suspicion of Christ. They represented Him as trying to overthrow the established customs, thus causing division among the people, and preparing the way for complete subjugation by the Romans.” The Desire of Ages, 205.
10 How bitter and agitated did the Sanhedrin become over the issue of Jesus’ healing the man on the Sabbath, thus breaking their traditions?
note: “These adversaries of Christ had no arguments with which to meet the truths He brought home to their consciences. They could only cite their customs and traditions, and these seemed weak and vapid when compared with the arguments Jesus had drawn from the word of God and the unceasing round of nature. Had the rabbis felt any desire to receive light, they would have been convinced that Jesus spoke the truth. But they evaded the points He made concerning the Sabbath, and sought to stir up anger against Him because He claimed to be equal with God. The fury of the rulers knew no bounds. Had they not feared the people, the priests and rabbis would have slain Jesus on the spot.” The Desire of Ages, 208.
“He [Satan] planned to work through his human agencies in the religious world, by imbuing them with his own enmity against the champion of truth. He would lead them to reject Christ and to make His life as bitter as possible, hoping to discourage Him in His mission. And the leaders in Israel became instruments of Satan in warring against the Saviour.” Ibid., 206.
11 What happened to the relationship between the Jewish church and God when they took the Son of God to task?
note: “The priests and rabbis were taking the Son of God to task for the very work He had been sent into the world to do. By their sins they had separated themselves from God, and in their pride were moving independently of Him. They felt sufficient in themselves for all things, and realized no need of a higher wisdom to direct their acts.” The Desire of Ages, 208.
12 When the Jewish church rejected Christ in His Word, what else did they reject?
note: “The Jews had the Scriptures in their possession, and supposed that in their mere outward knowledge of the word they had eternal life. But Jesus said, ‘Ye have not His word abiding in you.’ Having rejected Christ in His word, they rejected Him in person. ‘Ye will not come to Me,’ He said, ‘that ye might have life.’ ” The Desire of Ages, 212.
“They were not acquainted with God, and to them His voice through Christ was the voice of a stranger.” Ibid., 213.
13 What do the words of Christ teach about our relationship to God the Father?
note: “The words of Christ teach that we should regard ourselves as inseparably bound to our Father in heaven. Whatever our position, we are dependent upon God, who holds all destinies in His hands. He has appointed us our work, and has endowed us with faculties and means for that work. So long as we surrender the will to God, and trust in His strength and wisdom, we shall be guided in safe paths, to fulfill our appointed part in His great plan. But the one who depends upon his own wisdom and power is separating himself from God. Instead of working in unison with Christ, he is fulfilling the purpose of the enemy of God and man.” The Desire of Ages, 209.
14 What did the priests and rabbis understand? What did they sense when Jesus pressed their guilt upon them?
note: “Jesus knew that the priests and rabbis were determined to take His life; yet He clearly explained to them His unity with the Father, and His relation to the world. They saw that their opposition to Him was without excuse, yet their murderous hatred was not quenched. Fear seized them as they witnessed the convincing power that attended His ministry; but they resisted His appeals, and locked themselves in darkness.
“They had signally failed to subvert the authority of Jesus or to alienate the respect and attention of the people, many of whom were convicted by His words. The rulers themselves had felt deep condemnation as He had pressed their guilt home upon their consciences; yet this only made them the more bitter against Him. They were determined to take His life.” The Desire of Ages, 213.
comment: The healing of the man at Bethesda and the ensuing confrontation with the Sanhedrin occurred at the second Passover during the ministry of Jesus. It was just one year before this that Jesus cleansed the temple and announced His mission to cleanse the heart from sin.
15 What did Jesus do after the Sanhedrin rejected His message?
note: “The Sanhedrin had rejected Christ’s message and was bent upon His death; therefore Jesus departed from Jerusalem, from the priests, the temple, the religious leaders, the people who had been instructed in the law, and turned to another class to proclaim His message, and to gather out those who should carry the gospel to all nations.” The Desire of Ages, 232.
“If the leaders in Israel had received Christ, He would have honored them as His messengers to carry the gospel to the world. To them first was given the opportunity to become heralds of the kingdom and grace of God. But Israel knew not the time of her visitation. The jealousy and distrust of the Jewish leaders had ripened into open hatred, and the hearts of the people were turned away from Jesus.” Ibid., 231, 232.
comment: Let us keep in mind that although Jesus left these priests and leaders just one year after He began His ministry to work with another group of people, they still remained in charge of the church until Jerusalem was destroyed in 70 a.d.
Answer key available upon request.