Why Have We Been Just Lying Here?
Sunday, April 15, 2012 – AM
Rev. James May
John 5:1 After this there was a feast of the Jews; and Jesus went up to Jerusalem.
John 5:2 Now there is at Jerusalem by the sheep market a pool, which is called in the Hebrew tongue Bethesda, having five porches.
John 5:3 In these lay a great multitude of impotent folk, of blind, halt, withered, waiting for the moving of the water.
John 5:4 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.
John 5:5 And a certain man was there, which had an infirmity thirty and eight years.
John 5:6 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?
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.
John 5:8 Jesus saith unto him, Rise, take up thy bed, and walk.
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.
Until this day, the ministry of Jesus had been largely unnoticed by the Jewish Religious leaders. Though He had done miracles, his fame had not spread across Israel. The miracles that Jesus had performed were centered mostly around the areas of Judea and Galilee. There was the first miracle that he performed at the wedding in Cana where Jesus turned water into wine.
The other recorded miracles in the first few chapters of John’s gospel are the meeting with the woman at the well in Samaria, where Jesus revealed himself as the Living Water, the Messiah of Israel, and transformed the life of this woman, and secondly, the raising of the nobleman’s son of Capernaum.
On this day, as Jesus came into the City of Jerusalem for the beginning of the celebration of one of the great feasts. There were three great feasts that were held in Jerusalem every year. They were the Feast of Passover in the spring, the Feast of Pentecost 50 days after Passover, and the Feast of Tabernacles in the fall. Which one of these feasts Jesus was coming to celebrate was unclear.
On this day, Jesus would offend the Religious leaders. He would begin the long journey to the Cross by defying the Laws of men, and even going against the laws of the Sabbath. He would begin to show that He was Lord of the Sabbath, and he would manifest his supernatural power to see men free like he had not done before.
As Jesus entered the Sheep Gate, the first thing to catch his attention was the Pool of Bethesda with its 5 porches. All around, surrounding the pool, the heart of Christ was stricken at the sights and sounds that he heard. People were moaning, groaning, suffering; just lying around waiting.
I wonder how much Jesus grieved at the sight of all of this suffering humanity? These were Jews, God’s chosen people in the earth; a people who called to glorify God and to show the world that there is truly a God that cares; a God that loves; a God of mercy and grace; and a sovereign Lord of all Creation that has power over all things; who rules the universe by the Word of his mouth. I don’t know how you would feel about that but to see all of the suffering of these people of God’s chosen nation, lying around a pool suffering and hoping beyond hope for some miracle, I just don’t see much glory in it. In the eyes of the world and all of the heathen nations that surrounded Israel, this sight would not have been much of an inspiration to make me want to know the God of Israel.
Knowing the heart of Jesus, as we do today from the perspective of being a part of the family of God, we still sometimes have a challenge understanding why God allows so much pain and suffering in this world. But we also know that it isn’t God that brings the pain; we bring it upon ourselves through our own rebellious actions. Had it not been for the sin that is found in the heart of every man, from Adam to today, this world would never have known suffering, pain, sickness, disease and death. But for the grace and mercy of God, man would have long ago disappeared from the face of the earth. But because God loved man so much, he has provided what we needed to continue to flourish in spite of ourselves.
Let us never forget that God’s promises cannot fail, and his Word will never cease to come to pass. In the very beginning God told Adam and Eve to multiply, fill the earth and subdue it, to become masters of all of creation under the direction of the Holy Spirit who would teach them all things. God’s intention for mankind has not changed; only the fulfillment of it all has been delayed for a time until the power of sin and darkness is forever broken.
One day, we will live in that place of perfect peace; that place where God’s original design for man to be blessed, never taste death and never go from His presence.
But on this day, as Jesus looked upon the suffering at the Pool of Bethesda, his heart was grieved for the suffering he saw. There were the blind, the palsied, those with withered limbs and paralyzed bodies; those who could not hear, nor speak and who were unable to move from one place to another. No doubt there was a lot of activity as those who cared for the sick and dying went from person to person doing what they could.
But the ability of man to help another in need is always limited. There is pain that we cannot heal. There is suffering that we have no power to control. Even at our best efforts, using the best medicine and latest technology, there is suffering that cannot be stopped until death brings sweet relief. Death itself is an act of love that God gives to suffering mankind. Death is a terrible thing, but to have to suffer in a disease ridden, pain filled body forever would be far worse. It is the love of God that limited the suffering that man would have to do in this body.
The suffering of fallen man is what Jesus saw and I can only imagine how his heart must have ached for those lying around without hope. It didn’t have to be this way! All it would have taken for this to have never happened was for man to have been faithful to God and not to have fallen into sin and become in league with the powers of darkness. Man had brought it on himself, but that still didn’t keep Jesus from being saddened by the condition of those at the pool that day.
As Jesus entered the Sheep Gate, he was also signifying that the Lamb of God had arrived. Through the Sheep Gate came all of the sheep and lambs that were destined to become sacrifices in the temple worship. By entering in through that gate, Jesus was showing that he was the Perfect Lamb of God, that he too was destined to be sacrificed. He would be the sacrifice that would take away the sin of all who would believe upon him.
The name Bethesda means “house of pity or mercy”. That’s certainly what these poor suffering people needed. It is terrible to think that right here at the Sheep Gate, where the sacrificial lambs were brought in, that there would such a display of suffering humanity. Right at the very entrance, if you will, of the path to worship, lay people without hope. There they lay, day after day, night after long night, with only one hope – to beat everybody else to the water when it began to stir from the presence of the Angel of the Lord.
I look around our world today, and sometimes right here in the House of God, and I see so many who are in the same condition as these people were around the Pool of Bethesda. Not a day goes by when we fail to hear of someone else in pain and suffering. Our world is filled with people who need both pity and mercy. It’s as though the entire world now was a giant Pool of Bethesda and everywhere you look there is nothing but suffering.
We need a visitation of Jesus once again! We need that grieving heart of the Savior to walk among us, take pity upon us, show mercy and grace once again, and lift us out of the place where we have laid for so long. We cannot lift ourselves up. There is no power in human flesh over that which is destroying the souls of men. The power to heal and deliver can only be found in the supernatural; that ability that only God can give.
The power of sin has immobilized the souls of men. They cannot see to walk with God, they cannot hear the voice of the Lord, they cannot understand the leading of the Spirit and they don’t perceive the Word of the Bible because it all must come as God enables. Flesh cannot break through to that spiritual realm without the grace and mercy of God to open our eyes and ears that we might see and hear the supernatural.
The story of the Angel that stirs the waters in the pool says that the angel would come down at a “Certain season”. This simply means that the opportunity to get into the water was always there but unless the water was being stirred by the angel, it had no power to do anything at all. It was the presence of the Angel of the Lord that made the difference. The water just happened to be the means by which men could touch the supernatural power of God. Without the supernatural power of God at work there was no healing in the water, no deliverance and no salvation.
This is to remind us that it is not by might, nor by power of men, but by the Spirit of God only that supernatural power to overcome can be made manifest in the church. We can’t conjure up the Holy Spirit. He comes when He wants and when his time is right.
There are a lot of things going on in churches today that are nothing more than fleshly works, things that men have tried to manufacture to make it seem that the Spirit of God is moving; but there’s no supernatural power. We can have a form of godliness without the power of God. Too many signs on the marquis of churches say, “Come and experience the Holy Spirit with us”, but the Spirit has departed because it’s all a show of the flesh.
We can stir the waters with our music. We can stir the waters with our eloquent speeches. We can stir the water with our shouts, our dancing, and our programs, but unless the Angel of the Lord, the presence of the Holy Ghost is really there, then there’s no supernatural power to deliver, save and set free. Men will come and go unchanged, untouched, still trapped in sin and darkness, only with their conscious soothed for a time, having been deceived into believing that all is well, but their lives are unchanged and their hearts still black with sin. If men and women, boys and girls are going to be changed, they must be drawn by the Spirit of God as he troubles the waters of their souls. They must experience the supernatural power of God to change the heart and life. Nothing else works but the power of God!
As Jesus looked upon the multitude of suffering people his eyes settled upon one man in particular out of all of the rest. I wonder why it was this man and none of the others? Could it be that Jesus saw in him a spark of faith that no one else had? Could it be that this man, more than all the rest, had a heart that Jesus knew would be receptive and believing?
You see, everyone there at that pool was waiting for a sign. Unless the waters were troubled, they didn’t believe that anything could help them. They had tried the doctors, the priests, the sacrifices, everything they could to see God move, but they were convinced that their healing could only come one way. They limited the power of God because their faith was in the sign of the troubled water and not in the supernatural power of God to heal at any time that faith is put to the test. God wasn’t limited by the water; but that’s all they could see!
Was it that this man deserved any more than the rest? I don’t think so. But I do believe that he was in the right place, at the right time, and fore ordained to be the one man among all the rest that Jesus would heal so that the glory and power of God could be revealed.
Jesus looked upon this man who had laid there by that pool for 38 years. That’s a lifetime of suffering and waiting for the supernatural power of God. Jesus looked upon him through eyes of mercy. This was a man create in the very image of God; a man who had suffered the worst that life could throw at him; and a man that needed mercy and grace to help in his time of need.
The very heart of God was moved with compassion and Jesus initiated the miracle. The man who laid there may not have even noticed Jesus until Jesus spoke directly to him. After all, how many other men had walked by, looked at him in pity, shook their heads in compassion and then walked on, leaving him the same as always. That’s all that man can do in his own strength most of the time.
But this day, this man at the pool experienced the supernatural. He experienced the awesome power of God to heal and deliver. The waters weren’t troubled but it didn’t matter because the God that made the water and created the angel, stood there with him. While everyone else waited for the sign of the troubled water, this man was experiencing the power of God given from the hand of God himself.
He didn’t have to worry about being the first into the water. He was one on one with Jesus, the eternal Son of God. At this moment in time, it was as though Jesus had come to this world for but one purpose, to touch and heal this one man who had suffered so long.
That’s the way God moves – one heart at a time; one soul at a time. The good thing is that whether we are first or last doesn’t matter. All that matters is that God moves in our hearts.
With a word of his mouth, Jesus healed this man. 38 years of suffering were over in an instant.
John 5:6 … Wilt thou be made whole?
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. (Will we give excuses or just say, Yes Lord, I want to be made whole! We can make excuses, or we just have faith to believe.)
John 5:8 … Rise, take up thy bed, and walk.
Some of us may have been fighting with things in our lives that have kept us bound and limited for a very long time, perhaps your whole life.
Maybe it’s a secret sin, or something in your life that hinders the moving of the supernatural within you.
Maybe it’s a bit of doubt and unbelief that keeps you from believing that God could really move for you, that God will really answer your prayer and set you free.
Maybe its depression, or physical issues, that keep you from experiencing God’s best. Whatever it is, you’ve been laying in that place long enough.
Maybe you’re just waiting on a sign; something supernatural to stir the waters or a bolt of lightning out of Heaven; or the audible voice of God to speak to you? Pentecostals love to have signs before we believe, just like the Jews at the Pool of Bethesda. We have convinced ourselves that God can’t move without some kind of shout, or some other kind of stirring!
We can’t put God in a box. He moves when he wants and however he wants. The very Son of God is here right now, and the question is, “Will you be made whole”? Are you ready to get up and move on in God?
Jesus told him, “Rise up, pick up that thing that has had you bound, and walk on in victory!”
There’s nothing too hard for God. Whether it’s a lifetime of sin and shame, a load of guilt that suffocates you, or a hindering spirit that lingers near you always bringing doubt and fear that you will look foolish for believing God, or it’s a fear of just stepping out by faith – the supernatural power of God to set you free is here right now and there’s nothing too hard for him to do.
Why should we lay around, bound with chains that keep us from experiencing God’s best for our lives? The heart of God is grieved by those of his own household who won’t believe him, wont’ trust him, won’t rise up and walk in victory and in power. We have the supernatural power of God in our hands. The Holy Spirit is stirring the waters of your heart and soul. Jesus is asking, “Are you ready to rise up and walk, or are you going to continue lying in self-pity?”
It’s time we said, “Yes, Lord, and without excuse, just get up, rise up, and get about the Lord’s business.”
If there is anyone here who has not met Jesus, he is here right now. He is here now, looking over his people with compassion, and with pity. He wants to extend mercy and grace to all who will have it. He is asking, “Are you ready to rise above the life you’ve lived? Are you ready to be set free from the pain and suffering of a hopeless condition of your soul and let Jesus be Jesus in you?”
Today is your day. Today the Spirit is calling. Today the water is stirred and the supernatural power of God to heal and set free is here. Will you rise up and walk? Jesus is reaching out to take you by the hand if you want to!