Calvary Road Baptist Church

“HEALING THE IMPOTENT MAN” Part 3

John 5.1-18

 

When we first visited John chapter 5 and the healing of the impotent man lying beside the Pool of Bethesda, we surveyed the passage and glanced at a few things revealed in the text about our Lord Jesus Christ. When we next visited this miraculous encounter, we determined to consider the supernatural event from the perspective of the man who was on the receiving end of the Savior’s wondrous miracle of healing.

This morning we focus our attention exclusively on the Lord Jesus Christ, and what this portion of God’s infallible Word reveals to us of Him, be it His nature, His work, or His personality. With that in mind, turn in your Bible to John chapter 5. When you find John chapter 5, stand for the reading of God’s Word:

 

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.

4      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.

5      And a certain man was there, which had an infirmity thirty and eight years.

6      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?

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.

8      Jesus saith unto him, Rise, take up thy bed, and walk.

9      And immediately the man was made whole, and took up his bed, and walked: and on the same day was the sabbath.

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?

13     And he that was healed wist not who it was: for Jesus had conveyed himself away, a multitude being in that place.

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.

15     The man departed, and told the Jews that it was Jesus, which had made him whole.

16     And therefore did the Jews persecute Jesus, and sought to slay him, because he had done these things on the sabbath day.

17     But Jesus answered them, My Father worketh hitherto, and I work.

18     Therefore the Jews sought the more to kill him, because he not only had broken the sabbath, but said also that God was his Father, making himself equal with God.

 

May I suggest a frame of mind with which to approach today’s message from the Bible? It was the frame of mind of some Greeks in Jesus’ day who had heard of the ministry of this One born King of the Jews. Long after this miracle, and even after He had raised Lazarus from the dead (yet two years in the future from this setting) and His fame had spread even farther abroad, some Greeks who had come to Jerusalem approached one of His apostles and said, “Sir, we would see Jesus.”[1]

There is much contained in the sentiments of that statement. I suggest to you that we adopt the same frame of mind those wise Greeks held as they sought Him. We will not learn everything about Jesus from the passage before us, but perhaps we may catch an enlightening glimpse of Him with the eye of faith.

Let me point out nine things about the Lord Jesus Christ that we catch glimpses of in this portion of scripture.

 

First, IN OUR TEXT WE CAN SEE CHRIST’S PRESENCE

 

We already know the Lord Jesus Christ left heaven’s glory, clothed Himself in human flesh, and lived among us. However, our text informs us that He left Galilee to travel to Jerusalem. He then walked through Jerusalem until He came to a place where there was a pool called Bethesda, and then past any number of disabled, sick, withered, and impotent folk, to stand before one man.

What does that show you, my friend? Our text shows me that the Lord Jesus Christ was there for that man. Young people place great emphasis on their friends “being there for me.” At almost every high school graduation or awards ceremony some young person will thank numerous people for “being there for me.”

Keep in mind, however, that those you young people are so quick to congratulate for “being there” for you are only there for you when it is convenient for them. When you are sick they will not “be there” for you. When you are dying they will not “be there” for you. When you are facing eternity they will not “be there” for you. And even if they are there for you, what good can they do for you?

This One, however, was there for that impotent man when no one else was there, after all had abandoned him. He will be there for you, as well. Physically, of course, He is presently seated at the Father’s right hand, but His precious Holy Spirit will never leave you nor forsake you if Jesus is your Savior. More so than anyone else you will ever know, Jesus will always “be there” for you.

 

Next, IN OUR TEXT WE SEE HIS KNOWLEDGE

 

Verse 6 tells us Jesus “knew that he had been now a long time in that case.” That is but a hint of what the Lord Jesus Christ knew about that poor man. You see, the Lord Jesus Christ knows everything about everything and everyone. He is not only the God of the infinite, but He is the God of the infinitesimal, as well.

Notice that, though He knew everything about the impotent man there was to know, He still came to Him. He still approached Him. He still talked to Him. He still healed him. I am so glad that Jesus loves me, that Jesus loves me, even me. And this, despite the fact that He knows everything about me.

Is it not astonishing that despite the fact that Jesus knows everything, He still loves me. John 2.24 tells us that “he knew all men.” The very next verse informs us that He “needed not that any should testify of man: for he knew what was in man.”

Keep in mind that you will never meet anyone who will love you like He does, all the while knowing everything there is to know about you. What great love that is, my friend. Yes, Jesus knows it all, knows all your sins, and died on the cross anyway.

 

Third, WE SEE HIS INTEREST, HIS CONCERN

 

It is one thing to be there. It is another thing to know what there is to know about you. However, what good is being there and knowing so much, if He does not care? You have perhaps heard the saying that no one cares how much you know until they know how much you care. Well, we see that beside the Pool of Bethesda the Lord Jesus Christ did more than stand over that man. He expressed interest. More than that, He expressed concern. Even more that that, He showed that man love. I mentioned Christ’s love previously, but here I explain how His love was actually shown to that poor man.

Do you ever think about that impotent man, laying there for 38 years? Ever wonder how long it had been since anyone showed interest in him? Ever wonder how long it had been since he felt anyone was concerned for his welfare? Then one day a stranger approached and asked him a personal question: “Wilt thou be made whole?” Consider the implications of what Jesus said to that man. He no doubt looked him in the eye as He asked him if he wanted something. He inquired. That revealed His interest in the man, His concern for the man, and I dare say His love for the man. No wonder the impotent man was flummoxed.

I doubt that you would have any interest in me, or be concerned about me, or love me, if you knew everything about me. I honestly wonder if I would be very interested in you, or be very concerned about you, or able to love you, if I knew everything there was to know about you. Aren’t you glad we don’t know everything there is to know about each other? How, then, do you explain the death of Christ on Calvary’s cross for sinners, all the while knowing everything about every sinner? You cannot explain such love. You can only experience it by embracing Jesus, or you can not experience such love by refusing Jesus.

His love for this man is first seen by His interest in the man. How do we know this? Think about it for a moment. Love cannot be disinterested. To put it another way, love must be interested. It was the Savior’s interest in the man that first revealed His love. And though we initially see only Christ’s interest in the man’s physical welfare, we shall soon see evidence of His interest in the man’s spiritual welfare, as well.

Contrast my Savior with any of the false gods of the heathen, or with any other religion or non-Christian religious figure in history. His presence, His knowledge, and His interest! You cannot say that about Buddha, not after he abandoned his wife and young child to begin his reflective wanderings. My Lord Jesus Christ has abandoned no one He has not made provision for, unlike the Buddha. As well, He did not begin any journey to learn anything, since He already possessed all knowledge, again unlike the Buddha. Then there is His interest, His concern. He is interested in me and He is interested in you. He is concerned about me and you. This is a complete departure from what the Buddha taught.

My Lord’s concern is seen beside the Pool of Bethesda, later on at the Temple, and then on the cross of Calvary. Don’t ever think Jesus is not concerned for you.

 

Fourth, OUR TEXT REVEALS AN ASPECT OF HIS GREAT POWER

 

Let me remind you that the miracle the Lord Jesus Christ worked to heal this man’s physical infirmity was not put on display after the fashion of His miracle of walking on the water, or His miracle of ascending into heaven after His glorious resurrection. The actual miracle in this text was not perceptible to anyone’s senses. That said, it is obvious Jesus did work a great miracle when He healed him of his impotency. At the precise moment Jesus said, “Rise, take up thy bed, and walk,” the man was healed. The very next verse reads, “And immediately the man was made whole, and took up his bed, and walked: and on the same day was the sabbath.”[2]

However, the Lord Jesus Christ possesses power far greater than that which is required to heal any physical impotency. He possesses far greater power than that which is required to walk on water or to raise the dead. His power is so great that He can actually make a dead soul alive, and forgive sins.

Drop your eyes down to verse 14 of our text: “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.” This verse shows us that not only did Jesus heal the man of his physical infirmity, but that He also saved him from his sins. He saved that poor man’s soul as well as healing his body. What an astonishing display of power!

 

Fifth, THERE IS HIS GUIDANCE

 

The Lord Jesus Christ does not leave those He is interested in to fend for themselves, but is a shepherd to His sheep, and leads them where they should go with careful guidance. When He told the man to “Rise, take up thy bed, and walk,” He was providing clear direction at the time of his conversion so the man would quickly discover the reality of his healing. Then, when He found him in the Temple and said, “Behold, thou art made whole: sin no more, lest a worse thing come unto thee,” He provided spiritual guidance for him.

However, notice that the Lord Jesus Christ provided clear spiritual direction to the man when he encountered the man where he was rightly supposed to be. It was the Sabbath day, the man had been unable to observe the Sabbath for 38 years, so it was both proper and to be expected that this new creature in Christ would hasten to God’s house. It is no accident that it was in God’s house that the Savior’s further direction for his life was provided: “sin no more.”

The formerly impotent man may not have realized precisely what he was doing by going to the Temple, but I will tell you what he was doing. He was making use of the means of grace. He was in the right place on the right day to receive a blessing from God by means of the spoken word. It just so happened that being in the Temple on the Sabbath positioned him to receive the spoken word from none other than the living Word, Himself.

So, what do we see of Jesus in this passage so far? We see His presence. We see His knowledge. We see His interest and concern. We see His great and mighty power, both to heal as well as to save from sins. And we have just seen His guidance, providing direction so this sheep of the Shepherd will know where to go and what to do.

 

What Is The Sixth Thing We See? WE SEE HIS TIMING

 

What do I mean by timing? By timing, I am suggesting that not only did the Lord Jesus Christ make use of miraculous power to effect this man’s salvation and healing, but He also made use of His providential power to work behind the scenes so that conditions and situations would properly come together at precisely the right time for this man.

Consider several things: First, why at this time and not any other time in the previous 38 years of this man’s infirmity? Next, why did the Lord Jesus Christ arrive in Jerusalem from Galilee to encounter this man on a Sabbath day, and to then heal and provide direction to this man that would be sure to raise the ire of the Pharisees, first for this man carrying his bed roll on the Sabbath, and also for Jesus daring to work a miracle on the Sabbath?

I would suggest to you that our Lord’s timing had to do with a number of considerations: First, since there is the suggestion that this man’s infirmity of 38 years was the result of personal sin, if our Lord’s words in verse 14 are correctly understood, it likely took 38 long years for this man to suffer enough to be genuinely sorrowful and sick to death of the sin that left him this way. As well, this Sabbath, likely occurring the weekly Sabbath day before the Day of Atonement, would ensure that the Pharisees in Jerusalem were particularly sensitive to anyone rocking their religious boats and threatening their niche in the ecclesiastical status quo.

In other words, there are things going on at different levels here. There is the personal level of this impotent man. Then there is the geopolitical situation with the Jews and their Roman occupiers. Third, don’t forget the cease fire in the low intensity conflict that existed between the Sadducees and the Pharisees for the hearts and minds of the Jewish people. Our Lord’s timing was perfect to save this man’s soul and heal His body, but it was also perfect to destabilize the political situation that then existed, as well as the religious situation that then existed. Timing. It’s everything.

 

Seventh, WE CATCH A GLIMPSE OF HIS PURPOSE

 

I explained in my message last week that the Lord Jesus Christ very thoroughly and very systematically displayed His authority as the King of the Jews in a variety of ways. He walked on water. He gave sight to the blind. He made the lame to walk again. He raised the dead. He fed thousands with but a few loaves of bread and a few fishes, with more left afterwards than He started with. And He cleansed lepers. All of these things have been stated before, but it is beneficial to remind you of His purpose in healing the impotent man at this time, and particularly on this Sabbath day. He performed this great miracle to demonstrate His authority over the Sabbath day, that day of the week that God commanded to be set aside and consecrated as holy, to commemorate His seventh day rest after His six days of creative work in the beginning.

So, you see that the Lord Jesus Christ has reasons for the things He does. Therefore, His claim to be the King of the Jews, with His corresponding right to rule and reign in the lives of His subjects, was at least one of His purposes for working this miracle, on this day, in this way.

 

Eighth, WE SEE HIS SONSHIP

 

Verses 17 and 18:

17     But Jesus answered them, My Father worketh hitherto, and I work.

18     Therefore the Jews sought the more to kill him, because he not only had broken the sabbath, but said also that God was his Father, making himself equal with God.

 

Verse 17 records the Savior’s answer to those who persecuted Him for healing on the Sabbath: “My Father worketh hitherto, and I work.” Jewish people did not refer to God as their Father, because the relationship that was established by the Abrahamic Covenant, as well as the relationship that was in force by virtue of the Mosaic Covenant, was one of Master to servant. Thus, when the Lord Jesus Christ referred to God as His Father, He was declaring His unique relationship with the God of Israel, the implications of which clearly infuriated them. You see, if God is your Father, then you have to be . . . His Son. That is exactly what verse 17 shows us, that Jesus Christ is God’s Son.

Astonishing.

However, there is one more observation to be made from our text about the Lord Jesus Christ. We began with His presence, followed by His knowledge, and His interest and concern, which gave way to observing His power, followed by His guidance, His timing, and His purpose. His Sonship, however, is a revelation with an implication the Jewish people find especially provocative.

 

Finally, WE SEE JESUS CHRIST’S DEITY

 

Read verse 18 again with me: “Therefore the Jews sought the more to kill him, because he not only had broken the sabbath, but said also that God was his Father, making himself equal with God.” Keeping in mind that the Lord Jesus Christ is the Master Teacher, and that He spoke to His people in their time, using their vernacular, to communicate in a way they would understand, notice what they understood Him to be declaring to them. They thought His miracle of healing the impotent man was a violation of the Sabbath day’s rest, deserving capital punishment. However, the miracle, by which He sought to established His authority over the Sabbath, set the stage for Him to publicly refer to God as His Father, thereby asserting His deity as His Father’s equal.

My friend, it does not matter at all that Roman citizens did not view their sons as their equals, retaining the power of life and death even over their adult sons. Neither does it matter whether or not Americans view their sons as equals to their fathers. All that matters is that the Jewish people of Jesus Christ’s day did believe that any son of his father was his equal. Thus, when the Lord Jesus Christ referred to God as His Own Father, He was making the claim to His Jewish audience that He was equal with God.

 

A wonderful Savior is Jesus, my Savior, a wonderful Savior to me. In these 18 verses in God’s Word, where we see the Creator of heaven and earth displayed in a most wonderful and personal way for us, let us consider some memorable attributes about Him.

Let us remember that He is the Son of God, and that since God is His Father, He is certainly equal with God. Astounding, when you think of it. But there is so much more.

To fulfill a purpose, at a preordained time, He left heaven’s glory, was born into the family of man, lived and physically matured, and one day walked past a number of people to stand before a man who had suffered terribly for 38 years.

The Lord Jesus Christ was there for him because He was interested in that man, concerned for that man, and because He loved that man. It was not an ignorant sentimentalism, since He had knowledge of that man, the good as well as the bad. Yet He loved the man anyway.

We then saw that the Savior who was there for him, who knew about him, who was interested in him and concerned about him, brought His omnipotent power to bear in healing the man’s physical infirmities, and saving the wretched man’s soul. He then provided guidance for the man, as you would expect from the Great Shepherd of our souls.

Think of it, my friends. All these things about the Lord Jesus Christ in just 18 verses. Things that show us that not only does my Jesus care, and that He is there, but that He has the power to do something about my problems, my issues, my sins, and my life. That means, whatever His ultimate purpose happens to be, He has the authority and the might to accomplish what He sets out to do.

What else could you want from a Savior? What else would you need from a Savior? If He was good enough for that impotent man, He is good enough for you. If He was caring enough for that man, He is caring enough for you. And if He was powerful enough for that man, He is powerful enough for you.

Perhaps your physical condition is not nearly as bad as that impotent man’s was (laying him low for 38 years), but your spiritual condition is as bad as his was. Oh, my friend, don’t you need a Savior? And don’t you need a Savior’s soon?

Trust that He knows, that He is concerned, that He has the power, and that His timing is best. He is not only God’s Son, but He is God Himself and able to save. Won’t you come to Christ today?



[1] John 12.21

[2] John 5.9

Would you like to contact Dr. Waldrip about this sermon? Please contact him by clicking on the link below. Please do not change the subject within your email message. Thank you.

pastor@calvaryroadbaptist.org