Last Updated on May 24, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 546
Context: John's Gospel does not conform to the other three Gospels in many respects and for this reason some have doubted its historical accuracy, believing it to be a symbolic work for doctrinal and devotional purposes rather than a record of events. Others believe, however, that one of John's purposes was to record episodes in the ministry of Christ which are not included in the first three Gospels. It is true that he provides more commentary and interpretation than the others do. The authorship of this Gospel is uncertain; but scholarly opinion is that the writer, if not John the Apostle, is one John the Elder–who had apparently some close personal connection with him. If John's testimony is added to that of the other Gospels, it becomes likely that Jesus made numerous trips to Jerusalem during the period of His ministry, which may have lasted three years. These trips were made at times of festival, when the city was crowded and He could preach to large audiences; and His arguments with the Pharisees in the Temple were frequent enough for them to consider Him a real threat to the religio-political establishment of the time. This fear would have been reinforced by the ease with which He confounded their arguments and turned their accusations of lawbreaking against them, the unanswerable refutations of their arguments, and the large crowds which gathered to hear Him. If it is accepted that John's testimony is largely supplementary, then the Pharisees' fanatical determination to kill Jesus becomes more plausible. John describes one of these episodes in Chapter 5; Jesus heals a helpless invalid, infuriating the Pharisees. He later delivers an inspired sermon which effectively confounds all their accusations. John's description of the invalid and his cure carries an unusually strong effect of realism and immediacy, as though he had seen it occur:
After this there was a feast of the Jews; and Jesus went up to Jerusalem.
Now there is at Jerusalem by the sheep market a pool, which is called in the Hebrew tongue Bethesda, having five porches.
In these lay a great multitude of impotent folk, of blind, halt, withered, waiting for the moving of the water.
For an angel went down at a certain season into the pool, and troubled the water: whosoever then first after the troubling of the water stepped in was made whole of whatsoever disease he had.
And a certain man was there, which had an infirmity thirty and eight years.
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?
The impotent man answered him, Sir, I have no man, when the water is troubled, to put me into the pool: but while I am coming, another steppeth down before me.
Jesus saith unto him, Rise, take up thy bed, and walk.
And immediately the man was made whole, and took up his bed, and walked: and on the same day was the sabbath.
The Jews therefore said unto him that was cured, It is the sabbath day: it is not lawful for thee to carry thy bed.
He answered them, He that made me whole, the same said unto me, Take up thy bed, and walk.