The primary goal of the Gospel of John is
not to give us a historical treatment of the life
of Jesus; John’s purpose is to exalt the person
of Jesus so that we may believe on Him and be
saved (John 20:30, 31).
Let’s observe Jesus as He delivers a man
from the bondage of his affliction. As we do,
remember that Jesus can do the same for you
if you will give Him the opportunity.
I. A SICK MAN (VERSES 1-5)
A. His wretched condition (verse 5)
1. He is disabled. According to the Scriptures,
this man had lived with this infirmity for
38 years. He had been sick longer than Jesus
had been on the earth! The Bible says that this
man had an “infirmity.” This word means that he
had some weakness or frailness that prevented
him from walking about as other men did.
What a picture of the sinner who is lost and separated from God by his sins (Isa. 59:2; Rom. 3:23). Regardless of what he tries, the sinner is still lost and unable to walk in the ways of the Lord.
2. He is desperate. The very fact that the man is here at this pool in his condition is proof positive that he is desperate for healing. Imagine him dragging his broken body toward that pool.
Sadly, there are too few sinners who are desperate about their spiritual condition.
3. He is disappointed (verse 7). The man
tells Jesus that every time he is about to get
into the water, someone else beats him to it
and goes away with healing instead. Year after
year, he has seen his hopes and dreams shattered
as another person beat him to the healing
Again, we can see the sinner in this scenario. A man can try many things to bring peace and salvation to his soul. He can try works, religion, goodness, giving, prayer, etc. But none of these things will ever be able to save anyone. Salvation requires the blood of Jesus.
B. His wretched companions (verse 3).
This man was surrounded by others who were
in the same condition he was. They offered him
no comfort or help. They wouldn’t have helped
him anyway, because they needed healing for
Again, these sad people mirror the sinner
in all of his helplessness, brokenness, blindness,
and uselessness before the Lord (See
also Eph. 2:12).
II. A SYMPATHETIC SAVIOUR (VERSE 6A)
Jesus is pictured here as the compassionate Savior. He is shown doing three great works that prove this true:
A. He is shown choosing the sinner. According
to the Bible’s own witness, there was
a “great multitude” there that day. Jesus could
have gone to any person in that place, yet, for
His own reasons, He went to this man. That
was nothing but pure grace!
What a picture of Jesus and His work of salvation! He knocks on our heart’s door (John 6:44). He reaches out to us in love and calls us unto Himself (Jer. 31:3; Matt. 11:28). When the sinner responds in faith (Rom. 10:9-10), Jesus comes in and does the work of salvation in our hearts and lives (verse 13). This is a work of grace and grace alone!
B. He is shown caring for the sinner. Jesus
knew everything there was to know about this
man. He knew that he was crippled, unable to
walk, unable to stand, and unable to carry his
own bed. Jesus knew that this man was totally
dependent on others for everything he had
in life. Yet, Jesus reached out to him anyway.
What a picture of His grace! In fact, the pool
was named “Bethesda,” which means “house
Jesus knows all about the sinner’s condition. He knows that we love our sins, that we cannot control our passions, and that we desire the things of the world that gratify this old flesh. And yet, He loves us still! Jesus refuses to see us as we are and chooses rather to see us as we can be through the power of His grace.
C. He is shown coming to the sinner. In
what may be the greatest move of all, Jesus
literally comes to where this poor man is lying
and reaches out to him in genuine grace and
There are three ways in which Jesus
comes to the sinner:
1. He came as a sacrifice. The first time Jesus came, He came to die. He went to Calvary and gave His life as a ransom for the sinner. He took your sins upon Himself and paid the price for your redemption. He became your sin and suffered the awesome wrath of God so you wouldn’t have to (2 Cor. 5:21).
2. He comes as a Savior. Today, when Jesus comes to the sinner, He comes as Savior. He comes and offers eternal life to all who will receive Him into their hearts and lives.
3. He comes as sovereign. One day, if the
sinner doesn’t respond to the gospel message
and come to Jesus, he will find himself facing
Jesus as judge. The same Jesus who has the
power to save you today will one day have the
power to sentence you to death (Rev. 20:11-15)
III. A STRIKING MIRACLE (VERSES 6B-9)
A. There is an offer. Jesus asks the man if
he would like to be healed. The man responds
by appealing to the flesh and tells Jesus that he
has no one to help him into the pool.
This man is guilty of the same thing that so many others are guilty of: confusing the physical with the spiritual. Even today, Jesus comes to the lost sinner and makes an offer of salvation.
B. There is an order. Jesus tells the man
to get up and walk. Jesus told this man to do
something that he hadn’t been able to do in 38
years, if ever. To me, this is a pretty incredible
command! However, all that was required of
this man was simple, childlike faith and obedience
to the call of Jesus.
When the call comes to the sinner lost in sin, the only necessary response is faith!
C. There is an outpouring. When this man
responded to Jesus’ command by faith, he was
immediately healed and was able to get up and
walk. This miracle required no input from the
crippled man; all he had to do was get up and
walk at Christ’s command.
Salvation works exactly the same way. Jesus
comes to the sinner and calls him to salvation.
All that is required of the sinner is humble
obedience to the call of Jesus. When this obedience
comes, the sinner is immediately and
instantly made right with God, transformed into
God’s child, delivered from wrath and made an
heir to all that heaven has to offer
Jesus demonstrated His power as the
Great Physician by healing this man’s body.
However, there is no indication that this man
ever became a believer in Jesus (verses 10-
15). How sad—to come face-to-face with Jesus,
experience His power and know His touch,
and yet continue in sin without Him. The Great
Physician is not only able to heal the body; He
can heal the soul!