Book Review Part 8 of Dan Lioy’s “Jesus as Torah in John 1-12”; Chp. 5 “Jesus as Torah in John 5-6”

Posted: March 31, 2008 by Rick Hogaboam in Biblical Studies, Book Reviews, Christology, Theology
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Chapter 5 “Jesus as Torah in John 5-6”
Part 1 (Examining treatment of Jesus as Torah in John 5)
Dr. Lioy views a shift in John’s emphasis from chps. 1-4 as emphasizing Jesus as the eternal Tanakh against the backdrops of Jewish piety and history towards a comparison of Jesus with some of the major festivals of Judaism.

Jesus healing of the paralytic man in chapter 5 is thought to be against the backdrop of Pentecost. Jewish writings in the intertestamental period reveal linkage of Pentecost with the issuance of the law to Moses on Mount Sinai. Pentecost would therefore serve as time for reflection on God’s law and His revelation to Moses.
The healing of the paralytic man occurs on the Sabbath and Jesus is the initiator of the healing. It appears that Jesus is wanting to make an intentional point and actually approaches this paralytic and heals him. Lioy points out, “Though the paralytic did not solicit help from the Redeemer, Jesus offered it anyway without any preconditions” (2007:112).
Once the paralytic man was healed, he carried his mat and began to walk. Some religious authorities spotted this action, and rather than celebrate the man’s healing, they interrogated him about what happened. The religious elitists of the day were captive to rabbinic tradition, interpretations, and the oral law proceeding from such. Lioy notes here how such bondage to traditions yielded them far from the heart of God, “They failed to appreciate and accept that God instituted the Sabbath to meet the physical, mental, and spiritual needs of people, not for individuals to be enslaved to a distortion of the truth” (2007:112).
Now, Jesus, who is the embodiment of the Torah, responds quite differently to the healed paralytic. Lioy (2007:113) highlights the contrasting dispositions,
“Sometime afterward, Jesus took the initiative to locate the former invalid walking in the temple area. In contrast to those who presumed they were the arbiters of the Mosaic law, He who is sovereign over the proper interpretation of the Tanakh confronted the man about the deeper spiritual issue of sin in his life”
It is sad indeed when a man carrying a mat, after being healed no less, prompts concern from religious leaders seemingly more than the deeper issue of sin within. It is sadly true in the context of Christianity as well, when leaders are more concerned about external petty issues over and against eternal internal issues.
Jesus is therefore acting out the heart of the Torah, which is the very heart of God. The religious leaders of the day were instead preoccupied with the external elements of the law that were more easily observed and governed.
In later discourse with the religious authorities regarding his involvement on the Sabbath, Jesus appealed to a divine prerogative from the Father for his actions. Jesus proceeded to contend that He gives life as the Father gives life and that rejecting the Son is tantamount to rejecting the Father who sent Him. Such claims, amidst others, enraged the authorities who now viewed such statements as blasphemy in addition to their offense at his breaking of the Sabbath laws.
Jesus proceeds to make a case that he is in fact sent from the Father by appealing to multiple witnesses. Such an appeal to multiple witnesses would render his critics inexcusable in their futile efforts to denounce Jesus as Messiah.  Sadly, The religious leaders’ stance of unbelief openly disregarded the corroborating witnesses provided by John the Baptizer (John 5:33), the Redeemer’s own miracles (v. 36), the Father in heaven (v. 37), and Scripture (particularly through Moses; vv. 39,46)” (2007:117).
The Apostle John’s purpose in penning this Gospel was to give an account to all so that we might believe in Jesus.
Joh 20:30-31  Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book;  (31)  but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.
What people choose to do with such testimony is the all determining factor in how we will be judged. We will either belief such testimony and receive eternal life, or reject such testimony and face condemnation. “For those who accept the Father’s witness, the love of Messiah becomes a reality in their hearts. Those who reject it are in effect calling God a liar…” (2007:118).
Lioy adds, “For the Apostle John, there was no room for wavering, no ambiguous middle ground when it came to one’s position on the Father’s testimony about His Son….Christianity is not just a philosophy, religious system, or set of beliefs. It is most of all a relationship with the Lord Jesus. Salvation can only come in the context of that personal relationship. Accordingly, to believe in the Son is to be truly born again. Likewise, to reject the Son is to be eternally lost” (2007:118).
What is lastly significant in Lioy’s treatment of John 5 is the following:
“Jesus affirmed the diligent and thorough manner in which the religious leaders scrutinized the Tanakh, noting that they believed they would somehow find eternal life in these ancient sacred texts. Ironically, these Scriptures pointed to the Son, the same person whom His detractors refused to trust in for eternal life…” (2007:119).
In a sense, Jesus is saying that the religious leaders are right in affirming that eternal life is found in the “Torah”, but pleading “I am the Torah”. Jesus is in the fullness of the book and here they are rejecting Him…who is the substance of the Torah. To reject Jesus is to reject the eternal life promised in Torah because He Himself is the source of all such life that the Torah was pointing to.
  1. Dan Lioy says:


    Thank you for another careful, thoughtful, and substantive review of my work on the Fourth Gospel!


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