1 After this there was a feast of the Jews; and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. 2 Now there is at Jerusalem by the sheep market a pool, which is called in the Hebrew tongue Bethesda, having five porches. 3 In these lay a great multitude of impotent folk, of blind, halt, withered, waiting for the moving of the water.
Jesus walks by this place called Bethesda which means house of kindness. There is gathered here all sorts of people that are sick. Why were they there?
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.
- We don’t know if this was true or not. Did people really get healed when they got into the water? Or was it just a tradition? It was more likely tradition, but this is what gave the people that were there hope!
And a certain man was there, which had an infirmity thirty and eight years.
- What do we know about this man? He had had this sickness now for 38 years! Can you imagine, being sick for 38 years? We can begin to understand the desperation in his heart. If he got this sickness when he was young, he is now a grown man.
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?
- Jesus asks this man, “Do you want to be whole?”
- Why does He ask though? From His side, Jesus is always willing to make people whole. There is no mistaking that.
- Mark 1:41
And Jesus, moved with compassion, put forth his hand, and touched him, and saith unto him, I will; be thou clean.
- Christ is ALWAYS willing! But why then does He ask? Isn’t it an obvious answer? Jesus, of course I want to be whole! That was the reason why everyone was gathered in that area! And on top of that, Jesus was the One who approached him.
- In Mark 1, the encounter that Jesus has with this leper, He waits for the leper to come to Him. However, for others that were too sick, or crippled, Christ went to them. But always, Jesus gave each individual the power to choose. He waited for them to tell Him that they wanted the healing. There was a part for them to play. And there is a part for us to play in our own healing as well.
So how does this man respond?
- John 5:7
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.
- Instead of simply saying yes, the crippled man gives all the reasons why he can’t get better. All his hope is centered on the pool. The pool that is meant to be stirred by an angel to make people better. And on top of that, he doesn’t have anyone to help him into the pool. Someone else always jumps in before he does.
- His focus is on the wrong thing. Instead of the focus being on Christ who had asked him the question, he just looks longingly at the pool of water and all the reasons as to why he can’t be healed.
What is Jesus’ response?
- John 5:8
Jesus saith unto him, Rise, take up thy bed, and walk.
- Instead of replying to his response with pity, Jesus simply just gives him a command! Get up, take up your bed and walk!
- With the power of His word, Jesus heals the man. But before continuing digging deeper, let’s read the next verse first.
- John 5:9
And immediately the man was made whole, and took up his bed, and walked: and on the same day was the sabbath.
- Immediately, the man is made whole. He takes up his bed and he begins to walk!
Let’s have a look at how this man is healed. Here’s the order:
- Jesus issues the command to the man.
- He hears it and is simply made whole and takes up his bed to walk.
Now, we need to dig into his healing to understand a few things in regards to our own experience and even his!
- Question: Did the cripple man FEEL healed and FEEL whole before he got up to walk? Did he see his muscles all of a sudden have strength? How does someone feel healed?
- OK, maybe if you have a migraine, a headache and you ask Jesus to heal you, you would feel healed straight away right? If you have a cut and your are bleeding and it’s painful, or a broken bone, and Jesus heals you, you can feel healed. But a person that is crippled and can’t walk, he can feel his legs – they just don’t work!
- How do you feel that you are stronger? For those that exercise, how do you know how much you can lift? You don’t know until you try right? And that’s the point, we have to try!
- Did this man suddenly feel strong and able to walk and carry his own body weight? No friends, that’s not how it happened! He was lying down. He had no idea if he could walk or not.
- He was made whole by the word of Jesus – ABSOLUTELY! There is no doubt about that. However, the cripple man didn’t know that he was made whole until he tried to stand at Jesus’ command.
And this is where he really comes to a crossroad. Look, you’re the crippled man, just put yourself in his shoes for a moment. Jesus comes to you and ask you if you want to be healed or not. You tell him, there’s no one to help you into the pool at the right time. Maybe you’re thinking what? Jesus has come to help me to the pool the next time! Then all of a sudden Jesus says to you, “Rise, take up your bed and walk!”
Now could we have reason to doubt? Jesus, I just told you. Can’t you see? I’m a cripple! I need someone to help me to the pool. If I could walk, I wouldn’t need your help at all!
However, on the other side of the coin, of course, is the experience of what this man went through. He heard the word of Jesus. Then he believed the word of Jesus. How do we know he believed? He actually tried to stand up and walk! And here’s the really important truth. Yes, he was made whole by the word of God. But his part – it was found in the trying. He was healed in the trying. In the process of TRYING! He was healed by faith from God’s word – YES. But the effort that he put in just to try, showed where his faith was. His faith was centered on the word of God! He believed every word that Jesus spoke to him. Rise, take up your bed and walk.
Now I want to remind you, what Jesus said to this man was a command. Rise! Get up! Take up your bed and walk! It was a command!
- And when it comes to the bible, many times, we don’t like commands. We don’t like words from the Bible that tells us what to do! Most of us find it so hard to do it. Most of us don’t like to stop lying, or stop stealing, or stop committing adultery. It benefits us, it feels good to us.
- But are there habits in our lives that we want to overcome that we know are bad for us? What experiences have you gone through that have made you feel like this cripple man? Wanting to have a whole life, a better life, but you’re not capable of it?
- Too many of us are at the point where we enjoy the pleasures of sin. Too many of us are not ready to give up our bad habits! Maybe there are some who are struggling with lying and you want to stop because it has ruined your relationship, or you lost your job because of it. Then the words in the 10 commandments are for you: Thou shalt not bear false witness!
- Jesus doesn’t say that to you to condemn you and remind you why you lost your job. He says that to you so that you can overcome and stop lying! And if you believe His word and TRY, Then you will be more than overcomers through Jesus Christ our Lord and Saviour!
- What is this – believing His word and Trying? That’s what you call FAITH and WORKS! James 2:20.
- Believe – that’s faith.
- TRY – that works!
- But you know it’s not because of you. Maybe like the cripple man you’ve been sitting there for 38 years trying and it’s never worked! The problem? You’ve been trying in your own strength! And all it’s turned out to be is failure after failure. But now the word of God comes as a command to you. Thou shalt not bear false witness. And when your mind takes hold of that word and you TRY again, your effort is renewed and all of a sudden you are able to obtain victory where there was only failure before. Why? Because it is God that works in you to will and to do of His good pleasure.
- This cripple man was healed by the word. The sufficiency was found all in Jesus and His word. But he knew he was healed because he actually tried to get up and walk! That showed his faith, his belief in the words of Jesus. Had he heard Jesus speak to him and he just stayed there, he would never have been healed at all. It would have been because of his unbelief that he would have remained a cripple.
- Do you realise that the power of the word of God is at our disposal? That every word of God is a promise? All of his biddings are enabling’s. All that He tells us to do (starting with the 10 commandments), that if we believe, it is no longer a command but a promise!
- This man was healed by faith in God’s word and also by his works. As he tried to move his legs, all of a sudden, they began to move. As he bent it to try and stand up, all of a sudden, his legs had strength. And as he tried to bend down and pick up his bed, he could carry it! What an amazing miracle! He believed, he tried and it worked!!
- Now did he then turn around and tell everyone to look at him and show off how he was so strong? Of course not! He knew how he was made whole. It was not because he suddenly had strength in his legs. He had tried for 38 years and it never worked! It was because of the words that Jesus spoke to him.
But now let’s come back to the story:
- John 5:9
And immediately the man was made whole, and took up his bed, and walked: and on the same day was the sabbath.
- Jesus healed the man on the Sabbath.
- John 5:10-12
10 The Jews therefore said unto him that was cured, It is the sabbath day: it is not lawful for thee to carry thy bed. 11 He answered them, He that made me whole, the same said unto me, Take up thy bed, and walk. 12 Then asked they him, What man is that which said unto thee, Take up thy bed, and walk?
- And then the Jews began to cry out that it was not lawful to heal on the Sabbath day. It was not lawful for him to carry his bed.
- You know, he was so happy to carry his bed, that he could walk and carry that thing home. His bed was not like a mattress like what we sleep on today. It was just simply a cloth for him to lie on. It wasn’t heavy or big. But they were all more concerned about the Sabbath than the fact that this man had been healed already after 38 years of lying there!
- Look, let’s just have a quick look at this sabbath issue. People like to quote this to those that seem too religious about keeping the Sabbath. But did Jesus break the Sabbath by healing on this day? Absolutely not! He came to show us what was lawful to do on the Sabbath! It was lawful to do good on the Sabbath.
- Instead of seeing the healed man, all they saw was the bed that he was carrying. Look friends, it is different for a doctor to work in the hospital on the Sabbath than for a doctor to stop by and help someone on the side of the road on the Sabbath on the way to church or on the way home from church. Jesus’ custom was to be in church/the synagogue every Sabbath. But He was also found doing good on the Sabbath too – not sleeping His Sabbath afternoon away because He was so busy during the week healing people. Big difference!
Anyways, so these people ask him – who was it that asked you to carry your bed on the Sabbath?!
- John 5:13
And he that was healed wist not who it was: for Jesus had conveyed himself away, a multitude being in that place.
- He didn’t know. Jesus had left right after he told him to rise and take up his bed and walk. He must’ve been so excited to walk that he forgot momentarily who it was that had healed him until people started questioning him about the Sabbath.
But let’s continue:
- John 5:14
Afterward Jesus findeth him in the temple, and said unto him, Behold, thou art made whole: sin no more, lest a worse thing come unto thee.
- Jesus meets this guy in the temple and gives him a very solemn warning. You are whole, but make sure you don’t keep sinning lest a worse thing comes upon you.
- We only find out at the end, but obviously this man had been lying down diseased for 38 years because of his own sin. Something that he had been doing that caused him to be like this. In other words, from the human standpoint we would have said – he got what he deserved.
- But Jesus in His mercy spared him and healed him and gave him a second chance at life. The amazing thing is that Jesus didn’t address this at the beginning. He didn’t say – now, now, cripple man, I know why you are like this, because of what you did. No, Jesus just healed him. Showed grace and mercy to him first! But when Jesus met him again, he made sure he gave him a proper warning.
- And it is, too often, that we are saved out of some catastrophe, God in His mercy He helps us and still blesses us, and we are blinded to the fact that we needed His help in the first place because of something we did. And as a result, we don’t change but persist in that which brought this trouble upon is in the first place.
- But Jesus warned this man, “You are whole, make sure you sin no more.” Stop sinning! Stop whatever you were doing before. My grace cannot be despised. My healing mercy is not forever if you choose to persist in what you were doing that got you into this mess in the first place!
- The man didn’t turn around and look at Jesus and say that He was being unreasonable! No! This man heard, and he agreed. He certainly had to stop! He wasn’t going to go back to his old life of sin anymore. He needed to change. It was the work of grace in his heart.
- And so that warning echoes down to us today to be careful to turn from our sin, lest a worse thing come upon us.
- 2 Peter 2:20-22
20 For if after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein, and overcome, the latter end is worse with them than the beginning. 21 For it had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after they have known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them. 22 But it is happened unto them according to the true proverb, The dog is turned to his own vomit again; and the sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire.
- What is the spiritual application behind rising up and walking?
- Romans 6:4
Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.
- Christ wants us to be baptized and walk in the newness of life, to put our old life behind us and begin to a new path with a new mind that God has given us.
Friends, today Jesus is asking you to turn from your wicked ways. Yes, he’s asking you to be perfect. He’s asking you to stop sinning and claim the victory that is found in Jesus Christ! It’s found in His grace and in His mercy.
Jude tells us this:
- Jude 1:24
Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy.
Jesus is able to keep us from falling. He’s able to heal us and also keep us from going back to our old lives. It’s not only His command, it’s a promise that He will do it for us as well. But we need to try, to put in the effort to change. And God will work in us to will and to do of His good pleasure.
May God grant you that victory today!