I am come in my Father’s name, and ye receive me not: if another shall come in his own name, him ye will receive. (John 5:43 KJV)
How little we understand of this man named Jesus, this man who did not come to “make a name for himself,” but a man who came in the name of another, even his Father. How unlike us he is. We all seek acclaim; we want to be somebody; we want our names engraved in stone or shone in lights in every theater. We proclaim ministries in our name; we build universities to our fame. And we love to have it so because we have not understood he whom we call “Lord.” We do not yet know him as LORD! But, even more than this, we do not understand that Jesus calls us to holiness, just as he is holy. Thus, he begins this new revelation of who he is with a parable.
John 5 begins with Jesus’ third miracle as accounted by John. He heals a crippled man who had been suffering under his infirmities for 38 years. Remember that we have learned that Jesus taught nothing unless he did so by parable. When he spoke he spoke in parables. When he inspired his holy men of old to write the Scriptures he also spoke in parables. This does not mean the stories themselves did not happen. No, he used true historical accounts to tell spiritual parables. So, as you read John 5:1-18, prayerfully ask that God reveal to you the meaning of the parable of the infirm man healed on the Sabbath.
First, why is important to mention that this particular man Jesus chose to heal had suffered severe physical ailments for 38 years? Does the number 38 appear any where else in the Bible?
And the space in which we came from Kadeshbarnea, until we were come over the brook Zered, was thirty and eight years; until all the generation of the men of war were wasted out from among the host, as the LORD sware unto them. (Deuteronomy 2:14 KJV)
This passage shows that 38 years signifies a particular generation of adult men. What characterizes them? These were all the men of little faith who refused to go into the promised land under Moses’ leadership when he commanded them. God punished them by making them walk in the Wilderness of Sin until their flesh died, until they were in fact ready to obey God and walk in his promises. Likewise, this man in John 5 symbolizes all believers who have lived their lives in bondage to their flesh. These are the ones who boldly claim that Jesus forgives them of all their sins, but yet never learn the teaching about righteousness. They never learn to discern good and evil and to choose the good. Thus, at the end of 38 years, their generation (life time) of wandering in the wilderness of sin, God releases them from their spiritual bondage. But, he releases them with a warning, saying, “See you are well! Sin no more , that nothing worse may happen to you.”
And when does this parable come into its fulfillment? Recall that Jesus tarried two days with the Samaritans, the people of the woman at the well, to whom he revealed that he was the Water of Life. See John 4:40, 43. The Samaritans were considered unclean Gentiles to the Jews. Those two days represent the two thousand years in which Christ has been preached to all the Gentiles on earth. This event in Chapter 5, then, parabolically occurs on the third day, which according to the revelation of the “red heifer,” is also the seventh day. (See Number 19 and especially verses 19:12 and 19:19) This explains one reason why this miracle occurred on the Sabbath, the seventh day. This means that this parable will be prophetically fulfilled on the seventh day, the Day of the LORD.
As I first considered the meaning of this parable it seemed to me that the man must represent the Overcomers and that this story dealt with their glorification, for they too have suffered under the infirmity of their flesh their entire lives, a full generation. But, no, God resurrected the Overcomers in John 2 when he turned their water into wine. And the distinguishing characteristic of God’s overcomers is that they have learned to practice righteousness; at the time of this event they already understand and walk in the teaching about righteousness. Their inmost desire is to obey God and walk even as Jesus walked, in the perfection of holiness. To them Jesus will not say, “Sin no more,” for he has already perfected that desire in them. No, indeed, for it is to them that he next speaks when he reveals this new aspect of his divine character, “I AM come in my Father’s Name!”