John 5–7

“Lesson 23: John 5–7,” New Testament Teacher Manual (2018)

Introduction and Timeline

In addition to being doctrinally rich, chapters 5–7 of John highlight a wide assortment of attitudes toward Jesus Christ, including some of the opposition and hostility that eventually resulted in His death. After commanding a man with a 38-year infirmity to “rise … and walk” (John 5:8), the Savior taught that all those who would believe in the Son of God and follow Him would be raised up to everlasting life (see John 5:21–29). The feeding of the five thousand provided the opportunity for the Savior to teach that He was the Bread of Life, the source of eternal life (see John 6:35, 48). Many who had been His disciples previously would not accept this teaching and “walked no more with him” (John 6:66). Amid the growing intensity of various opinions concerning Jesus’s identity and purpose, He proclaimed during the celebrations of the Feast of Tabernacles (see John 7) that only through faithful obedience to His word could people know the truth of His identity and His teachings.

New Testament Student Manual : Religion 211-212

Chapter Overviews

John 5

Jesus Christ healed an infirm man at the pool of Bethesda. He taught about His relationship to the Father. As the Son of God, Jesus has power over death and the authority from His Father to judge mankind. He told of numerous witnesses who testified of His divinity.

John 6

Following the feeding of the five thousand, Jesus Christ taught that He is the Bread of Life. Some of His disciples rejected His teachings and turned away from following Him. Peter testified that Jesus is the Son of God and the only way to eternal life.

John 7

Jesus attended the Feast of Tabernacles in Jerusalem and taught how all people can know the truth of His teachings. He made use of the prominent images of water and light present at the Feast of Tabernacles to testify that He is the Messiah.

Suggestions for Teaching

John 5:1–29

Jesus Christ Healed a Man at the Pool of Bethesda

Ask students to ponder for a moment a time in their life when they were physically or spiritually healed. Ask a few students to tell by what power these miracles were wrought. Ask students to silently read John 5:1–6 and visualize the scene depicted in those verses. Then have them describe for the class what they “saw” in their minds as they read.

Consider asking questions like the following:

  • What details in these verses help you visualize what the pool of Bethesda looked like and what it would have been like to be there?

  • What words in the scriptures help you visualize the countenance and physical condition of the man with whom the Savior spoke?

  • What do you think is the significance of the question the Savior asked in verse 6? (The Savior may have wanted to allow the man to explain his condition to Him; the Savior may have been asking about spiritual as well as physical healing.)

Ask students to take turns reading aloud John 5:6–16, and encourage them to mark the phrase “made whole” each time it occurs in those verses. Ask them to share what they think this repeated phrase means. During the discussion, help students understand this doctrine: We can be made whole physically and spiritually only through the power of Jesus Christ. Also ask students to find the counsel the Savior gave the man when He found him in the temple after the healing.

Then ask:

  • In what ways do you think sin can be “a worse thing” than a chronic physical disease or infirmity?

  • In what ways might we be like the man at the edge of the pool of Bethesda? (Possible answers: The Savior has the power to help us overcome our infirmities, weaknesses, and sins. We should seek His help when we need to be “made whole” in any way.)

Ask a student to read the statement by Elder Merrill J. Bateman in the student manual commentary for John 5:5–15, and ask students to listen for various ways Jesus Christ makes people whole.

Encourage students to share their ideas and testify about this doctrine by asking:

  • Without sharing the personal details of your experience, who here has been “made whole” or knows someone who has been “made whole” in one of the ways Elder Bateman mentioned? (Ask for a raise of hands.) What is your testimony of the power of Jesus Christ to make people whole?

To help students understand the context of John 5:17–29, explain that events in the Savior’s life often became opportunities for Him to teach important doctrines. This is especially apparent in the Gospel of John. For example, in John 4, meeting the Samaritan woman at Jacob’s well became an opportunity for the Savior to teach about “living water,” and in John 6, the feeding of the five thousand is the background for the Savior’s sermon on “the bread of life.”

In John 5, the healing of the man at the pool of Bethesda similarly leads into important doctrinal teachings. List the following scriptures on the board, and ask students to read them silently, looking for what the Savior taught about His power to bring life to all people.

John 5:21 (The Father and Son are united in Their desires and have power to “quicken” people, or to bring them back to life.)

John 5:24 (Those who hear and believe Jesus Christ and His Father will have everlasting life and will pass “from death unto life.”)

John 5:25, 28 (Those who have died will hear the voice of the Savior, “and they that hear shall live.”)

John 5:29 (All will be resurrected, both those who have done good and those who have done evil.)

  • What do these scriptures have in common? (All have to do with how the Savior brings life. As part of the discussion of the scriptures, help students see this doctrine: In the Resurrection, the Savior will bring life to all who have died.)

  • How do these teachings of the Savior relate to the healing of the man at the pool of Bethesda? (The healing also testified of the Savior’s power to restore that which was lost and to impart life.)

  • How has having a testimony that through the Savior’s power we will be resurrected brought hope to you in this life?

Before moving on to teach John 6, it might be helpful for you to briefly summarize John 5:31–47 by explaining to students that these verses continue to describe the conversation Jesus had with those angry with Him because He had healed a man on the Sabbath. These men refused to believe Jesus was the Son of God. In response, Jesus told them that each of the following witnessed of His divinity: John the Baptist, Jesus’s works, the Father Himself, and the scriptures, including the words of Moses.

John 6:22–69

The Bread of Life Discourse

Understanding the historical context of the Savior’s Bread of Life discourse can significantly help the students understand the Savior’s teachings as they study John 6. You have already taught the miracle of the feeding of the five thousand while discussing Mark 6, and you have taught about Jesus walking on the Sea of Galilee while discussing Matthew 14, so you will not need to teach the details of those events again. However, you should help students understand the importance of those two events occurring just before the Savior’s discourse on the “bread of life.” To do this, have one student read the student manual commentary for John 6, “The Savior’s Ministry in John 6,” and another student read the commentary for John 6:15. Then ask students:

  • What did you learn from these commentaries that you feel is important to remember as you continue to study the Gospel of John?

Explain that it will be helpful for students to remember this information as they discuss the Savior’s teachings found in John 6:22–71. To begin discussing these teachings, bring a loaf of bread to show the class. To enhance the students’ participation in the lesson, break off a piece for the students to see and ask, “What is the significance of bread in the diet of people around the world?” (In many cultures it is a staple, meaning a principal ingredient or major source of nourishment.)

Invite students to mark the “I am” statements the Savior made in John 6:35, 48, and 51 (“I am the bread of life”). Discuss with students how bread can symbolize the Savior.

Ask a student to read aloud John 6:22–27, including the Joseph Smith Translation addition found in verse 26, footnote a. Have the rest of the class follow along, looking for why people were seeking Jesus on that day and what Jesus said they should have been seeking.

  • According to verse 26, why were the people seeking the Savior on that day? (They wanted Him to provide more food or to work another miracle as He had the day before.)

  • According to the Savior’s words in verse 27, what should they have been seeking? (The “meat,” or food, that endures unto everlasting life.)

  • What do you think is meant by “meat which endureth unto everlasting life”? (Spiritual nourishment that makes it possible for us to obtain eternal life.)

Invite students to read silently John 6:28–35 and formulate one or two sentences that summarize the teachings of the Savior in this sermon. After sufficient time, invite several students to share with the class what they have written and point out key verses that helped them write their summary statements.

Ask students:

  • How can thinking about the Savior as the Bread of Life help people understand their need for Him in their lives? (One truth students will likely identify is: As the Bread of Life, Jesus Christ sustains and gives eternal life to those who rely on Him.)

To prepare students to study the Savior’s teachings in John 6:41–59, ask students to look first in John 6:60–61 and find how the people responded to His teachings. (They said, “This is an hard saying” and were offended.) Consider dividing your class into three separate groups to study John 6:41–59. Have one-third of your class study John 6:41–47; another third study John 6:48–52; and the final third study John 6:53–58. Have students in each group identify teachings that people might have regarded as “hard sayings,” or sayings that were difficult to understand or to obey. After a few minutes, ask students to share with the class what they found.

Explain that in order to understand the Savior’s Bread of Life discourse, it is essential to understand what it means to eat the Savior’s flesh and drink His blood. Ask students to read the Savior’s words in John 6:53 and then identify what He said in John 6:58, 63 to make clear that these words were not to be taken literally. (The students may identify these phrases: “Not as your fathers did eat manna” and “The words that I speak unto you, they are spirit.”)

To help students further understand what it means to “eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood” (John 6:53), read with students the statement by Elder James E. Talmage in the student manual commentary for John 6:51–58. Then ask:

  • How would you summarize Elder Talmage’s explanation of what it means to “eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood”? (If necessary, you may want to read and discuss Elder Talmage’s statement to help the students understand it.)

  • How did the Savior’s words in John 6:53 foreshadow the ordinance of the sacrament?

Ask students to read John 6:66. Remind them that just the day before these events, some of Jesus’s followers were willing to make Him their king (see John 6:14–15). Then ask:

  • How do you imagine that Jesus felt to see former followers leave Him?

Read John 6:67–69 as a class, and then ask:

  • According to these verses, why didn’t Peter and the other disciples leave the Savior, as others had done? (They believed that Jesus had the words of eternal life and that He was the Christ, the Son of God.)

  • What might some people consider to be “hard sayings” of the gospel in our day?

  • When has your testimony of Jesus Christ and His gospel helped you not be offended at what some might consider to be “hard” things about the gospel?

Conclude this portion of the lesson by sharing your testimony of how the Savior has sustained you during both good times and bad times in life. Testify also that just as eating bread each day sustains us physically, relying daily on the teachings and Atonement of Jesus Christ will lead us to eternal life.

John 7:1–53

Jesus Christ Taught during the Feast of Tabernacles

To help students better understand the context of John 7, begin by having them read the student manual commentary for John 7:1–14. Then ask:

  • What information about the Feast of Tabernacles seems important to remember as we study John 7?

Read to students the following statement by Elder Bruce R. McConkie (1915–85) of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, describing the circumstances in Jerusalem at the time of the events related in John 7: “Never in all her long history, reaching back at least to the days of Melchizedek, has Jerusalem seen such a ferment of opinion, felt such an anxiety about a doctrine, and had such a concern about a man” (The Mortal Messiah: From Bethlehem to Calvary, 4 vols. [1979–81], 3:124).

Write the following verses on the board: John 7:11–13, 25–27, 31–32, 40–43. Invite the class to search these verses and identify some of the different opinions people had about Jesus Christ. Then ask students to answer the following questions:

  • Why do you think there were so many different opinions about Jesus Christ?

  • How are these differing opinions similar to opinions people have about Jesus Christ in our day?

Have students search John 7:7, 15, 19 to identify some causes for people’s opposition to the Savior. (Possible answers: He testified of their evil works, they felt pride about being “learned” or educated and thought He was not educated, and they failed to keep the Lord’s law.) Consider asking:

  • How would these attitudes and actions prevent people from recognizing who Jesus Christ was?

Invite the students to search John 7:16–17, looking for how people can come to know who Jesus is and whether His teachings are true. Student responses should include this principle: When we do God’s will, we will receive a testimony of Jesus Christ and His doctrine.

Write the words Do His Will on the board. Invite students to discuss how doing God’s will strengthens our understanding and testimony of a doctrine or principle of the gospel more than just reading or hearing about it. If needed, the statement by President James E. Faust in the student manual commentary for John 7:14–36 can help the students understand the principle just identified.

Ask your students to consider the following situation: It is now 10 years in the future and your bishop or branch president has just called you to teach the youth of the Church in either the Young Men or Young Women program. Invite students to share some ideas for how they might teach the youth the principle the Savior taught in John 7:16–17.

Invite students to read John 7:37–39—including the Joseph Smith Translation addition found in verse 39, footnote b—and identify another promise the Savior made to help people gain a testimony of Him and His teachings. Also ask a student to read the first two paragraphs of the student manual commentary for John 7:37–39. Then you might ask questions like the following:

  • What did the Savior promise those who believed in Him? (The Holy Ghost.)

  • How could the Holy Ghost help the people in Jerusalem, who were surrounded by so many conflicting opinions about Jesus Christ?

Have a student read John 7:44–53 and ask students to compare the different attitudes toward the Savior shown by the officers, the chief priests and Pharisees, and Nicodemus. Invite students to share why they think each group reacted differently to the Savior. Ask the class to read John 7:53. Encourage students as they return to their “own house” to set a goal to be more obedient to the teachings of the Savior in some aspect of their lives during the coming week. Bear your testimony that by doing so they will receive greater guidance from the Holy Ghost, which will be a source of continual spiritual strength as they strive to follow the Savior.