Series: The Gospel of John

Title: Jesus and the Lame Man

Text: John 5:1-29


Today we will look at John Chapter 5 and examine the third of seven signs John gives us in the first 12 Chapters as proof that Jesus is in fact the Messiah. These signs are miracles performed by Jesus, which John uses to pointout to us, that beyond the miracle itself is a lesson about Jesus divinity and his provision for our humanity. Jesus will even couple his sign with an explanation so that those who are truly interested will not miss the point. Today’s lesson in thethird sign is that Jesus gave us. is the giver of life.

Jesus crosses paths with a man has been crippled for 38 years and had repeatedly tried and failed to find healing. His predicament demonstrates the poverty of fables and superstitions and even the limits of modern medicine to cure all sicknesses and infirmities.

Ultimately, we are hopeless and helpless without Jesus. This miracle demonstrates that Jesus is the greatest physician and is not bound in any way by time. This man suffered for 38 years with his condition until Jesus came by and healed him. No matter how long you’ve been dealing with your situation, the good news is Jesus can still help you!

Let’s look at this miracle in John Chapter 5.

  1. The Miracle

Read vs 1-4.“After this there was a feast of the Jews, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. Now there is in Jerusalem by the Sheep Gate a pool, which is called in Hebrew, Bethesda, having five porches. In these lay a great multitude of sick people, blind, lame, paralyzed, waiting for the moving of the water. For an angel went down at a certain time into the pool and stirred up the water; then whoever stepped in first, after the stirring of the water, was made well of whatever disease he had.(Joh 5:1-4 NKJV)

We don’t know which feast this was but some suggest that this event occurred at every feast day during Jesus’ earthly ministry. Many scholars say that the part about the angel stirring the waters was not part of the original writings of John and do not belong in the biblical text. These scholars suggest it is a marginal explanatory note that later got incorporated into the text.

This pool was located near the Sheep Gate and wad called in Hebrew, Bethesda (House of Mercy).It had five porches. This pool has been excavated in the area just north of the temple area, and hasfive porches, just as John said. During the feast days, manysickand injured people would gather at this pool with the hope of being healing.

We don’t really know if this hope of healing was real as a God honored release of faith or was merely a hopeful legend. We do know that whatever the case,a great multitude of sick peoplebelieved it and gathered at the pool. If there were people genuinely healed by the waters of the Pool of Bethesda, it was one of many unusual occasions of healing in the Bible.We do know that God can and does do things in unexpected ways. But just because something unusual or unexpected happens doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a miracle from God.

Have you ever asked yourself, “When God looks at the human race, what does he see?” Probably something like vs3! People who are sick, helpless, self-absorbed and banking on false cures. We don't like to look at it this way. We’d rather say, "I've got a few problems, but I'm basically OK.” – or,“So what if I can't succeed in relationships, other people are struggling too!” “So I lack direction and purpose for my life. I know a lot of people like that!” We get so used to our condition, that it doesn't seem so bad. After all, we’re not skid-row bums. In fact, we even feel sorry for the homeless, and disadvantaged.

But God says we are "lost," and "without hope" (Eph.2:12); We are "sinners," "helpless," and "enemies of God" (Rom.5:6,8,10)! Political Correctness would say, “How insensitive of God to say that about us, right?” But the truth is, we are so alienated from God that we would never seek him unless he first sought us.

It doesn’t take a genius to realize we are broken society. In fact, our world is broken we are feeling the effects of it and around the globe. People today are damaged in every area of life (physically, psychologically, emotionally, and intellectually). And believe it or not, all of this is a result of our alienation from God. This is the true human condition!

That’s what this poor man at the Pool of Bethesda represents. Read verse 5. “Now a certain man was there who had an infirmity thirty-eight years. (Joh 5:5 NKJV) This man is especially helpless. So what does Jesus ask him in verse 6? “When Jesus saw him lying there, and knew that he already had been in that condition a long time, He said to him, "Do you want to be made well?" (Joh 5:6 NKJV)

Are you serious? Isn’t that a no-brainer? Of course, the man wants to be healed; he’s at the pool isn’t he?

At first, this sounds like a stupid question; but the man's answer reveals the wisdom of it. This man has suffered from a paralytic condition for a long time, and apparently he frequently came to the Pool of Bethesda in hope of healing. It was a hope that had been disappointed for thirty-eight years. It seems the multitude was fixated on the water and the angel instead of upon the Christ, the Messiah who could actually heal them all.

Jesus asks the man, “Do you want to be made well?”This was a sincere question.

Not every sick personwantsto be healed. Their comfortable with their condition and like the attention it provides. Others are so discouraged that they’ve put away all hope of being healed. The man Jesus spoke with knew he was not one of the favored, and had no real hope to be healed. William Barclay writes, “In this man’s particular case, it was reasonable to wonder if he really wanted to be healed. “An eastern beggar often loses a good living by being cured of his disease.” As bad as his current situation was, at least he was familiar with it.

Amazingly, he doesn't answer Jesus' question; he just complains about the neighbors and the injustice of the system! Read verse 7. “ The sick man answered Him, "Sir, I have no man to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up; but while I am coming, another steps down before me." (Joh 5:7 NKJV)

He is so thoroughly defeated that he has given up all hope. Have you ever been in a situation like that? And by the way, the situation doesn’t have to be physical to render you discouraged and defeated. Christ is asking us "Do you wish to be whole?" We focus on how bad we have it or how others have mistreated us or on how much better others have it than we do. There’s always a kind of perverse pleasure and security in playing the victim. Sometimes we would rather just complain about our situation than allow Jesus Christ to make us whole!!

The sick man does what we all tend to do: He limits God’s help to his own ideas and does not expect any more than he conceives in his mind. So what does Jesus do? Read verse 8. “ Jesus said to him, "Rise, take up your bed and walk."(Joh 5:8 NKJV)

Jesus tells the man to do what he believed he could not do. It was impossible for him toget up, roll up his mat, and start walking! That would require several miracles! What Jesus does is challenge this man to believe for the impossible.

Andimmediately the man was made well! Jesus pushed past all of the difficulties, objections and excuses of the past 38 years and simply said, “Be healed!” Sometimes we’re our own worst enemy to health and healing and Jesus has to intervene in our lives and simply say, “Be healed!”

The fact of his healing was confirmed when he realized he had the strength to walk and carry his ownbed-mat. Jesus didn’t need to stir the waters, he simply spoke the word!

  1. The Message

The Bible says are many different ways people may be healed:

  • James 5 says the elders of the church may anoint to be healed.
  • God’s people can lay hands on each other in prayer, ask God for healing, and people may be healed Mark 16:17-18.
  • God may grant someone a gift of healing – either that they are directly healed, or have the power to bring healing to another 1 Corinthians 12:9.
  • God may grant healing in response to the faith of the person who desires to be healed Matthew 9:22.
  • God may grant healing in response to the faith of another on behalf of the person who is healed Mark 2:4-5,Matthew 8:13.
  • God may heal through medical treatment. 1 Timothy 5:23,James 5:14withLuke 10:34.

God wants you to be healed! When will it happen? I don’t know! It could take 38 years. It could take until Jesus comes. Or it could happen before the end of this day. But one thing is for sure! It will happen for all who believe in Jesus!

  1. The Controversy

This healing is also a picture of salvation. We must realize that we are alienated from God and unable to save ourselves. Then we must be willing to put our trust in Jesus to reconcile us to God. When we do that we are instantaneously and completely restored to spiritual life.

However, as is always the case when you mess with the status quoyou have to deal with the controversy.Read verse 9. “And immediately the man was made well, took up his bed, and walked. And that day was the Sabbath. (Joh 5:9 NKJV)

Uh-oh! It was the Sabbath! Read vs 10 “The Jews therefore said to him who was cured, "It is the Sabbath; it is not lawful for you to carry your bed."(Joh 5:10 NKJV)

This is so typical. Jesus does something incredible that changes a person’s life for good and here comes the Sabbath Police! “Pull over buddy! You’re not playing by our rules! Why is this such a problem? The Old Testament lawof the Sabbath observance was given to memorialize God's work of creation and to give people and animals a break and remind them to trust God to provide for them.

Unfortunately, the Sabbath observance became a hallmark of Jewish piety. Religious Jews had a super-obsession with determining exactly what it meant to "work." In the Talmud, there are 39 classes of work forbidden on the Sabbath which take up 24 long chapters and goes into such detail that any sane person would seriously question. For example:

  • You were allowed to pick up a chair and set it down somewhere else in your own home--but you weren't allowed to drag it because this might make a groove in the dirt floor and thus be considered "plowing."
  • Women were forbidden to look in the mirror on the Sabbath, because they might discover a white hair and pluck it out--which was "reaping."
  • You couldn't tie or untie a knot.
  • You couldn't climb a tree, or ride, or swim, or clap your hands, or dance.
  • In the area of "carrying," you couldn't carry anything heavier than a dried fig.
  • And of course, Sabbath laws forbade helping sick people unless their sickness was life threatening.

Obviously, this man and Jesus, were definitely guilty!And these hypocritical leaders were more concerned with keeping their rules then they were with a miracle of healing that helped someone. Read vs 11.“He answered them, "He who made me well said to me, 'Take up your bed and walk.' "(Joh 5:11 NKJV) These leaders didn’t say, Wow! Praise God! This guy healed you after 38 years of being paralyzed? Oh nooo! Read vs 12. “Then they asked him, "Who is the Man who said to you, 'Take up your bed and walk'?" (Joh 5:12 NKJV) They wanted to know who it was so they could get him for conspiracy to break the Sabbath!

Verse 13-15.“But the one who was healed did not know who it was, for Jesus had withdrawn, a multitude being in that place. Afterward Jesus found him in the temple, and said to him, "See, you have been made well. Sin no more, lest a worse thing come upon you." The man departed and told the Jews that it was Jesus who had made him well. (Joh 5:13-15 NKJV)

We don’t know what the man’s motive was for going to tell the Jews that it was Jesus. Maybe he wanted to get the leaders off his back. Or maybe he was so excited about his healing he wanted them to know it was Jesus who healed him.

Jesus is interested in his spiritual condition more than his former physical situation.

What could be worse than experiencing God’s healing touch and yet not have enough faith in Jesus to keep from going to hell.

Verse 16.“For this reason the Jews persecuted Jesus, and sought to kill Him, because He had done these things on the Sabbath.” (Joh 5:16 NKJV) This is not just a Jewish problem! This is religious world-wide problem, and it is still with us today! Christianity focuses upon finding freedom from things like greed, hatred, bigotry, racism, exploitation and a host of other things, by focusing upon a relationship with Jesus Christ. But religion focuses on man-made, external, keepable rules like driving 2 mph over the speed limit, or reusing an unmarked stamp, or the color of your lipstick, or the length of your hair because it makes you think your righteous if you keep all these rules religiously. And in our culture today, you don’t even have to keep these man made rules along as you give mental assent to them.It provides a way to avoid admitting any real moral failure and dismissing any need to come to God with honesty and humility.

There’s no question religion is the enemy of biblical faith.Religion called God the devil in Matthew 12. Religion nailed Jesus to the cross.Religion nailed to the Cross the God it claimed to love.Jesus was not a fan of religion! He reserved his harshest words for these hypocritical leaders (Matt.23 curses)!! He confronted the "sinners," but not with the kind of fierceness he confronted the religious leaders.

Sinners knew they had a problem with God. But the religionists deceived themselves into thinking they were righteous (Pharisee vs. Publican).

  1. The Claims

Jesus knew it was the Sabbath, and he purposefully healed the man on this day to provoke this controversy! The controversy between them centeredupon the issue of authority. All of these signs in John have to do with authority! If Jesus rejected their authority to interpret the Sabbath law, what higher authority did he appeal to?

His answer was His divine authority--because he is God! Read verses 17-18, “But Jesus answered them, "My Father has been working until now, and I have been working." Therefore the Jews sought all the more to kill Him, because He not only broke the Sabbath, but also said that God was His Father, making Himself equal with God. (Joh 5:17-18 NKJV)

The rabbis agreed that God could work on the Sabbath, after all He is God!But Jesus claimed to have aunique relationship with God. He says that He shared God’s nature; and he does not correct their conclusion! Read verses19-20, “Then Jesus answered and said to them, "Most assuredly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He sees the Father do; for whatever He does, the Son also does in like manner.For the Father loves the Son, and shows Him all things that He Himself does; and He will show Him greater works than these, that you may marvel.” (Joh 5:19-20 NKJV)

Jesus claimed the healing had the Father's approval in spite of their censure. Verse21, “For as the Father raises the dead and gives life to them, even so the Son gives life to whom He will.” (Joh 5:21 NKJV) Jesus also claims to be the life giver just like the Father. Therefore, He is not under their authority. Because as God, he has the authority to give life to whomever he wishes.

Verse22-24, “For the Father judges no one, but has committed all judgment to the Son,that all should honor the Son just as they honor the Father. He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent Him."Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life.”

(Joh 5:22-24 NKJV)

Now, that had to frost them! Jesus claims to have the authority to judge, which exclusively belonged to God! Jesus claims to deserve the same honor as the Father. That was especially blasphemous when we realize that these claims were made to strict monotheists, so it is undeniable that Jesus was claiming to be the one true God.

You can't make Jesus into a good moral teacher who only pointed to God--because he claimed to be God.You can't make him into a pantheistic spiritual master who was saying we're all gods--because he simply isn't saying that. You have to reject him as a liar or a nutcase--or you have to cast yourself on him as your Lord and your God. So which will it be???