Open Q: What are you like when you are sick? Attitude and behaviors to God and others? 

Review: in the last two weeks we looked at a man who desired to know the truth but he was cut off with the barrier of pride and traditions, then we saw a women who by her choices of sin and rebellion built herself a wall of shame, cut off from the living waters that renew and refresh, yet our Lord goes to these people and presents a battering ram to a seemly impenetrable barrier and leads these two to the ultimate reality and purpose in life, Himself Jesus Christ! 

Now we are at the threshold of a turn of events in the Gospel of John, after the introduction of the Word and the miracles to prove Christ’s claim, we now see what our Lord says to a man who had lost all hope, “Do you want to be healed.” A seemingly strange question, who would not want to be healed or restored? And then our Lord goes toe to toe with the religious leaders of His day who lift up their presumptions and rules as a god and oppress the people away from the truth, ultimately leading to our Lord’s persecution and cruecsafiction. 

SG 1: Groups: Read John 5:1-15 and make some observations: 

Q: What are your thoughts about the sick man?  

Q: What are the barriers that the sick man may have had to overcome to accept who Christ is?

These events take place at a pool that people flock too for healing. During our Lord’s time on earth it was overflowing with people hopping for an extra miracle because of the feast day, hoping for a healing miracle. Just as you may have seen on TV when a image of the Virgin Mary attracts swarms of devotees claiming healing and miracles. This pool of Bethesda was considered a myth by the liberal attackers of the Bible until it was discovered and excavated around 1967. The pool is located to the north part of the Temple Mount, near what was called Sheep Gate. There you are sitting in a mineral bath wondering what is that smell!

Undoubtedly healings did occur there. Just as today healings take place in these special areas where people go, believing they can be healed is a very powerful motivation and psychological event. When people believe they are going to be healed, and they are in a place where healings supposedly occur, and they do the expected thing, many of them are healed. Perhaps it is a miracle, as I believe, perhaps some fake it for attention and others only are temporally healed as their will power overtakes their symptoms for a while. Thus the pool at Bethesda had established a reputation as a place where people could be healed.

I used to think that this man laid at the pool at Bethesda for 38 years, but the Bible does not say that; it says he had been ill for 38 years. We do not know why probably because of some wasting disease — perhaps cancer, tuberculosis, or multiple sclerosis. In any event his disease made him unable to walk for 38 years, almost as long as his ancestors wondered in the desert.

So here was a great crowd of people — paralyzed, blind, lame, sick — all waiting for the water to be stirred. Out of that crowd Jesus picked one man. He did not empty the five porches, healing everybody. He did not invite them all to come down so that he might lay hands on them; He went to only one man. Perhaps he was the most needy and was the most helplessness that drew Jesus to him, after 38 years he would seem to fit the bill.

Perhaps we all can see in ourselves, in a sense of helpless, weak, crippled and lame, lying at the pool of Bethesda this morning. We all need help. We all find ourselves paralyzed at times, unable to do the thing we want or ought to do, or what we are called and made to do. Or go where the Lord has called us to go in our spiritual journey and growth. We come face to face with a barrier that lames us: thus we cannot walk very well spiritually. John goes on to say what Jesus did:

When Jesus saw him and knew he had been lying there a long time, he said to him, “Do you want to be healed?” {John 5:6 RSV}

What a strange question to ask of a man who had been sick for 38 years! “Do you want to be healed? But Jesus never asked a foolish question. Obviously it was important for this man to answer, maybe for us too!

Do we want to be healed, do we want to grow deeper in the precepts of the Word and character of Christ. Do we want to go through the barrier that stops us dead in our tracks? Jesus asks that question just as if you are in a 12 step program, you have to admit your need and the higher power before you can go anywhere out of your drunken state!

I have even seen many people turn their backs on a way of deliverance from their suffering they knew would work because they did not want to be healed. From a spiritual encounter or a medical surgery or a therapy. They do not want to receive divine help in their problems. They do not want to be helped out of their weakness. They love their weakness, their helplessness it is their comfort and identity. Perhaps it is the attention, perhaps it is from years of discouragement and are so beaten down they do not want to look up. Perhaps it is anger or pride, in whatever case they tend to crave the attention of others through their helplessness, or hide under the bed of discouragement. Resulting in stagnation and ignoring the One who can bring them comfort. I believe we can all be there at one time or another.

This mans answer was an excuse, he seemed to want to stay as he was at the same time wanted out of his misery. You cannot help somebody who does not want to be helped. We have to realize for us to go anywhere in life as a Christian, our Lord moves among us, that He will only ask this question of those who want to be healed. He may say nothing to those who do not.

Some, perhaps, may not have yet reached the place this man had reached. They are not helpless enough yet. They are not ready to give up on human efforts to solve their problems. They are not ready to admit they cannot make it on their own. They are still determined to get into the water themselves when it is stirred. Jesus can do nothing for them.

But this man at the pool of Bethesda wants to be healed. Notice his answer:

The sick man answered him, “Sir, I have no man to put me into the pool when the water is troubled, and while I am going another steps down before me.” {John 5:7 RSV}

In other words, “Yes, I want to be healed, but I cannot. I’ve tried, I’ve done everything I know how. I want to get into that water, I want to be healed, but I have no one to help me. I’ve given up. I have no hope.”

Perhaps there are people here this morning that feel like that. They have given up on their situation, refusing to believe there is any hope it can change. They see no way, from a human viewpoint, so they have resigned themselves to their barrier.  Maybe you have tried to stop drinking or you do not see any hope for your marriage, but feel you cannot or you can control it, maybe its pornography, or pride.  It is amazing to me how many people carelessly feel they are in control of something that really has control of them. You have heard of the person who says, “It’s easy to stop smoking. I’ve done it hundreds of times!” Or maybe you have tried to correct things and have failed. You have asked for help but nobody seems to care; and it only gets worse.

What did Jesus say to a man who had lost all hope, a man who had given up on himself? Did he say, “Oh, come on, I’ll help you get into the pool the next time the water is troubled”? No, he did not say that. He did not offer that kind of help. “Hang on Keep coming here. Perhaps some day you’ll make it in time. Some day it will all work out. Let’s get you a new mattress to lie on, put a few flowers around you and bring you two meals a day”? No, he did not.

Unlike most of Jesus’ healing he did not look to faith or the person determination, instead He asks an impossible thing; secondly, He removes all possibility of a relapse; and thirdly, He expects a continued success. All these are involved in the words,

“Rise, take up your pallet, and walk.” And at once the man was healed, and he took up his pallet and walked. {John 5:8b-9a RSV}

The Lord did not merely say, “Rise,” he said, “take up your pallet.” Why did he say that? I like the way G. Campbell Morgan has put it, “In order to make no provision for a relapse.” The man might have said to himself, “I’m healed, but I had better leave my bed here; I may need it tomorrow.” If he had said that he would have been back in it the next day. But he did not. Jesus said, “Take up your bed. Get rid of it; don’t leave it there.”

In those words he is saying something very important to people who need to be healed: do not make any provision to go back on what you have done. Many people fail right there. Go home and pour out the alcohol, get rid of the drugs, burn those magazines, surrender your pride! Say no to the friends who have been luring you on into evil. You will probably find that some of them will come back with you. Cut off any possibility of going back. Let somebody know the new stand you have taken so that they will help hold you accountable, this is what Jesus is saying.

The third thing: “walk.” Do not expect to be carried — walk. Many people want to be carried after they are healed. They expect everybody to gather around them and keep them going, because they got used to the attention and care they received. But if Jesus gives you the power to rise, Jesus is the One who can give you the power to continue to walk every day, to keep going. “Looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of faith,” {Heb 12:2 KJV}.

John now traces the immediate reaction of others to this event:

Now that day was the sabbath. So the Jews said to the man who was cured, “It is the sabbath, it is not lawful for you to carry your pallet.” But he answered them, “The man who healed me said to me, ‘Take up your pallet, and walk.'” {John 5:9b-11 RSV}

Now the man is in trouble over the Sabbath restrictions. Here John starts to trace the beginning of the movement that ended in the death of Jesus, the beginning of the official rejection of the Messiah. This was introduced by what seemed to the leaders of the Jews, and probably everybody else too, to be a perfectly proper concern. The Law of Moses did say that the Jews were to keep the Sabbath and not do any work on that day. The rabbis had carefully studied that regulation, and, figured out 39 different ways by which the Sabbath could be violated by certain types of work. And added many extra ways to follow it. Jesus violated on of the laws of the Pharacces, taking a passage out of their context, “Do not bring any burden out of your houses on the Sabbath day,” {cf, Jer 17:22}.

But the real motive of their hearts is instantly revealed when the man says to them, “The man who healed me said to me, ‘Take up your pallet, and walk.'” Their reaction, which you would think would be, “What? Somebody healed you? Who is the man who healed you?” was instead, “Who is the guy who told you to disobey one of our regulations?” This reveals them for the religious bigots they are, intent on the letter of the Law, but totally unconcerned about the mercy of God.

The man is in trouble. The Law said that anyone caught bearing a burden on the Sabbath was to be stoned. This punishment was not often carried out, but still the man is in real trouble. Yet he seems to hold no gratitude or loyalty to the One who healed him. Notice that the minute this man gets in trouble, Jesus is there. Verse 13:

Now the man who had been healed did not know who it was, for Jesus had withdrawn, as there was a crowd in the place. Afterward, Jesus found him in the temple, and said to him, “See, you are well! Sin no more, that nothing worse befall you.” {John 5:13-14 RSV}

The man had gone to the temple because the Law required that one who had been healed had to make a thanksgiving offering. Jesus knew where to find him.

Notice what Jesus said to him; He did not say to the man, “Sin no more. If you do you will lose your healing.” No, he said, “See, you are made whole.” Jesus never says, “Sin no more,” unless he first says, “You are made whole.” He calls the man’s attention to the fact that not only had he been physically healed, he had been spiritually healed. His sins had been forgiven; he had been washed, he had been cleansed; he was a new man — physically, and spiritually a gift of wholeness from God, without any merit or earning on his part.

We do not know what kind of sin this man had been committing. Perhaps it was a bitter spirit toward somebody. That will sap all the energy and vitality of life and turn one into an invalid. I have seen that happen. Perhaps it was a shameful habit he continually indulged in; an injury he had done to someone and he had refused to correct it. Our Lord reminds him that God is concerned about areas like that.

John gives a final word about this incident in Verses 15-17:

The man went away and told the Jews that it was Jesus who had healed him. [He had to explain who it was had healed him, and he told them.] And this was why the Jews persecuted Jesus, because he did this on the sabbath. {John 5:15-16 RSV}

From here on this was their justification for their persecution of Jesus — they could hide behind what looked like a violation of the Law. They had heaped all these regulations on the Sabbath law, but Jesus ignored them frequently because the regulations were “the tradition of men,” {Mark 7:8}. Now they had an excuse that made their persecution of him look valid.

What Jesus said is true for us today: God is working in this new twenty-first century. He is working in international events; He is working in the pressures and problems that come to each one of us; He is working in the very circumstance in which you find yourself today. What you need to know is, where is God moving in your life, and then work with Him. Allow Him to carry you over that barrier and be his instrument t yourself and others. Then allow it to endure to be in line with what God does. Only God’s work will last.

In some area of your life, do you want to be healed? If you say, “Yes,” He will say, “Then stand up, take up your bed, and walk.” Perhaps a miracle will occur, perhaps it is your attitude that needs to change, in any account out plight is temporary in the scope of eternity, focus on Him, overcome those barriers!

SG 2: Small groups:

 Q: The question we have to ask ourselves is what barriers do we place in the way of knowing Christ as our Lord?

 Barriers from knowing Christ?

Barriers from growing in Christ?

Barriers from following His will? 

Discussion: On the Barriers!  

Q: Maybe this is not a problem, but what perceptions and presumptions do you have that keep you from growth in sanctification?

Q: what did it take for you to realize if you did, the reality of Christ in your daily liffe?


Lord Jesus, we have sensed this morning that we are here, like a great multitude lying by the pool of Bethesda, waiting to be healed; trying various ways and means, hoping somebody will help. We have not yet listened to that wonderful voice that says to us in the inner heart, “Rise, take up your bed, and walk.” Grant that we will do so from this moment. We pray in Jesus’ name, Amen. Ray C. Stedman 83 John 5:1-17 

If you have any Bible other than the King James Version you will notice that Verse 4 is missing. Many versions include the verse in a footnote which explains why these people were there. They believed in a rather superstitious way that from time to time when the water was troubled — when it would rise rapidly and then sink again — that this was caused by an angel who visited the pool, and the first man who got into it when it was so troubled would be healed. This is akin to what is found in many parts of the world today. Lourdes, in southern France, has a spa which many believe has healing capacities. The shrine of Guadalupe, in Mexico City, has thousands of crutches stacked along its walls where people have been healed in this special place where they thought they could receive a blessing from God.

Additional Discussion:

  • Perhaps what happens is we get ourselves so comfortable in the life of the church we forget what the church is all about. Thinking I go to church, I serve on a committee, my kids are in Sunday school, what more could there be?
  • Perhaps they were born into it, the church that is, grew up hearing all there is to know; yet it never sank in and transformed them.
  • Perhaps, they got turned off from the pious frauds they may have observed on TV or in the walk of life, psuedo Christians who talk the talk but do not walk the walk.
  • Perhaps they see the radical commitments of some of the born again Christians and think they are crazy
  • Perhaps there is a fear of commitment or a fear of conversion, they do not want to be confected of sin, they do not want the lights turned on, because they do not want to see what is hidden in the dark.

The point I’m trying to make here is we all set up so many barriers and walls in front of the our growth in Christ is cause us to hold back or stagnate from receiving and living the best He has for us.

“the sixth hour” By Jewish reckoning that would be noon. But according to Roman time, which John uses throughout his gospel (19:14), it was six o’clock in the evening, the same time as we use today. So it was no surprise that Jesus was weary. He had been walking in the hot sun all day. He was thirsty, so he sat beside the well to rest while the disciples went into the city to find something to eat. Thus we have here a very beautiful picture of our Lord’s humanity.

God really does have a purpose for our problems discussion:


About Biblical Guy

Pastor, Teacher, Missionary, Researcher, Church Planter, Author and Equipper. Dr. Richard Joseph Krejcir lives in Southern California and is married to the beautiful MaryRuth and a precious son Ryan, a miracle from God. He is a child of God who is committed to biblical understanding, prayer, spiritual growth, and integrity. He is the Founder and Director of Into Thy Word Ministries, a missions and discipling ministry, with a call upon his heart to bring discipleship materials to pastors and everyone who needs them here and overseas. He is also a researcher at the Schaeffer Institute and spent over fifteen years on an in-depth, careful and through study on End Times. He is the author of numerous articles, curriculum's and books such as "Into Thy Word," and is also an ordained pastor, teacher, and speaker. He is a graduate of Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena California (Master of Divinity) and holds a Ph.D. (Practical Theology) from London. He has amounted over 25 years of teaching and pastoral ministry experience including serving as a church growth consultant.
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