The Son of God among the Sons of Men Part 7: Jesus and the Impotent Man -- By: Everett F. Harrison

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 103:411 (Jul 1946)
Article: The Son of God among the Sons of Men Part 7: Jesus and the Impotent Man
Author: Everett F. Harrison


The Son of God among the Sons of Men
Part 7: Jesus and the Impotent Man

Everett F. Harrison

VII. Jesus and the Impotent Man

Of the seven signs which are mentioned in the Fourth Gospel, four took place in Galilee and three in Judea. Of the former group, only the feeding of the five thousand had a setting of great publicity. There was no displeasure with Jesus over the performance of these miracles, although the discourse on the Bread of Life which followed the multiplying the loaves and fishes stirred criticism. Yet even here the result was simply the fading away of the concourse of people which had seemed ready to follow Him, to the point of making Him a king. When we turn to the signs which took place in Judea, however, we note a distinct and growing hostility to Jesus, which is to be explained in part by the fact that this was the center of Judaism which resented the claims and activity of the Galilean prophet, and in part by the conduct of Jesus Himself, who seemed deliberately to choose the feast times for His signs, when many would be gathered together, and to go about His miracles in a way calculated to offend the rulers of the Jews. The sign before us now, for example, was carried out on the Sabbath Day. So instead of merely losing a following, Jesus stirred up a bitter and determined opposition which would not rest until it had taken His life. “It cannot be that a prophet perish out of Jerusalem.”

For some reason, John is indefinite in citing the occasion for Jesus’ being in Jerusalem at this time. There was a feast of the Jews, but there is disagreement as to which one. Our

interest in this problem is chiefly the question of the duration of Jesus’ ministry. If this was a Passover, the materials in John’s Gospel warrant the conclusion that the ministry lasted for three and a half years, but if this feast was Purim or some other, the ministry is dropped to two and a half years. Although some manuscripts read “the feast of the Jews,” the superior text lacks the definite article. Even if the article be allowed, the identification with Passover is not certain, since the feast of Tabernacles might be so described. The matter remains uncertain.

The problem of place is almost equally vexing. The pool Bethesda (probably meaning “House of Mercy” by reason of the providential benefits visited upon the infirm through the pool) is said to be located near the sheep market or sheep gate. The word sheep is adjectival, leaving the substantive to be supplied. The argument in favor of the Virgin’s Fountain has its strength in the fact that this spring was intermittent, but the location and the inaccessibility of the fountain seem decisive against it. O...

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