THE STIRRING AT BETHESDA
A. HUMOR: MALE’S KEEN OBSERVATION
1. Jason was out shopping at the Woodlands Mall with his wife Latisha, but he wasn’t enjoying it. For over 45 minutes, he'd been 'stuck' with Latisha in the ladies department of the Forever 21 store. And he couldn't leave until she found a fashionable new outfit. So he was getting very tired and irritable.
2. Then, for the seventh time, Latisha came out of the changing room wearing yet another outfit. He looked Latisha up and down and said, "That's it, Babe! Not only does the outfit fit you perfectly, but it's your favorite color. Buy it and let's go get something to eat!"
3. She blew up. "You’re worthless, Jason!" said Latisha, "This is the same outfit I came in here with!"
5 Some time later, Jesus went up to Jerusalem for a feast of the Jews. 2 Now there is in Jerusalem near the Sheep Gate a pool, which in Aramaic is called Bethesda and which is surrounded by five covered colonnades. 3 Here a great number of disabled people used to lie—the blind, the lame, the paralyzed—and they waited for the moving of the waters. 4 From time to time an angel of the Lord would come down and stir up the waters. The first one into the pool after each such disturbance would be cured of whatever disease he had. 5 One who was there had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. 6 When Jesus saw him lying there and learned that he had been in this condition for a long time, he asked him, “Do you want to get well?” 7 “Sir,” the invalid replied, “I have no one to help me into the pool when the water is stirred. While I am trying to get in, someone else goes down ahead of me.” 8 Then Jesus said to him, “Get up! Pick up your mat and walk.” 9 At once the man was cured; he picked up his mat and walked. 14 Later Jesus found him at the temple and said to him, “See, you are well again. Stop sinning or something worse may happen to you.” 15 The man went away and told the Jews that it was Jesus who had made him well. [NIV with footnote included]
C. THESIS & TITLE
1. Tonight we’re looking at the phenomenon the Bible describes in John 5:4 & 7, the stirring of the waters of Bethesda.
2. We’re going to look at the Pool, the miracle that happened there, and the Angel who troubled the waters that final time.
3. The title of this message is “The Stirring at Bethesda.”
I. THE EXISTENCE OF THIS POOL
A. REALITY OF THIS POOL
1. The Pool of Bethesda was located on the eastern side of the city near the Fortress of Antonia.
2. Until the 19th century, there was no evidence outside of John’s Gospel for the existence of this pool; therefore, scholars argued that the gospel of John was wrong, that it was written later, probably by someone without first-hand knowledge of the city of Jerusalem. [Wikipedia, “Pool of Bethesda”]
3. What a turn around happened in the 19th century, when Conrad Schick discovered a large tank situated about 100 feet (30 m) north-west of St. Anne's Church. It turned out to have 5 porticoes just like John said! Someone then remembered that Josephus had written about the “Pool of the Sheep-market.”
4. This was the only Fountain/ Pool associated with healing. It’s very name, Bethesda, means "house of mercy," because there still appeared, in this sad & difficult world, a place where the mercy of God was manifested. Thank God for the Bethesdas!
B. WHO WENT TO THIS POOL
1. It was the gathering place of the sick and cripples (v. 3). John specified three sorts of diseased people that lay there: the blind, lame, and withered/paralyzed.
2. People came to this Pool from far distances and waited long for their cures. Don’t we wish people today showed as much concern for their spiritual healings as they do for their physical?
3. ONE SPECIFIC PERSON IS POINTED OUT
a. LONG DURATION. 38 years -- half of a long lifetime. This is the second longest recorded affliction healed by Christ. The longest was the man born blind, who was over 40 years old!
b. FALSE HOPE. There was constantly the possibility of healing. It might happen at any moment. He must not sleep or leave; he must be constantly alert, ready to jump. Can you imagine anything so frustrating or draining?
c. NO MAN TO HELP ME. Abandoned, friendless. They’d given up on him having a chance. HUMOR: Similar Feeling
1). Like the 2 guys walking in the field who see a charging bull and run for the nearest fence.
2). “We’re not going to make it, John. Please pray!”
3). “Ok, but I only know one prayer. ‘Lord, for what we’re about to receive, make us truly thankful!’”
d. ROBBED OF HEALING. "Another gets in ahead of me." No mercy, only selfishness. Dog-eat-dog world. Every man for himself.
II. WHAT MIRACLE HAPPENED AT THIS POOL
A. GOD’S AGENT: AN ANGEL
1. An angel went down, and agitated the water; and whoever got in first was healed.
2. The same crowd of anti-supernaturalists who didn’t believe there ever was a Pool of Bethesda – who’ve been proven wrong – also say that nothing supernatural happened there. Wrong again! (God forgive their unbelief!)
3. But the Bible says an angel went down into the pool, and stirred the water. Angels are God’s servants, and friends to mankind; and perhaps are more active in the removing of diseases (as evil angels in the inflicting of them) than we are aware of.
4. [Verse 4 is probably an early copyist’s note added to explain verse 7. However, there is strong mss evidence for keeping it in the text: A, C3, E, F, G, Delta, etc., Tertullian (200 A.D.), Didymus, and Cyril. It does have numerous variants.]
B. ANGEL’S DESCENT SIGNALED BY WATERS STIRRED
1. The troubling of the water was the signal given of the descent of the angel. This was similar to the “sound of marching of the angels” on the tops of the mulberry trees was to David. It was then time to move out.
2. We shouldn’t think it strange that there were times of special healing manifested. Luke says "... and the power of the Lord was present to heal the sick." (5:17). There was a special liberty/ presence of God there to heal the sick.
3. When the waters were troubled. Those who stepped in immediately were healed. What lessons does this teach us?
a. That we must “hit the iron while it’s hot;” that we should immediately respond to opportunities that God gives us. If we delay, the opportunity may pass. When God moves, you need to move with Him!
b. Another truth is that God will offer to heal us, but we must make an effort in obtaining it. Verses that tells us to “receive” from God, also means to “take!” (the Greek word lambano; Mt. 21:22; Jam. 1:7; 1 John 3:22). So we’re to “take” the gifts proffered to us by God.
C. OTHER TIMES THE WATERS WERE STIRRED
1. “And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters” Gen. 1:2.
2. At Creation, God divided the waters and made the dry land appear, Gen. 1:9.
3. At the Flood of Noah, God loosed the waters from the great deep and washed the world. Gen. 7:7.
4. In the Exodus, God opened the waters of the Red Sea and divided them (Ex. 14:22) letting the Israelites go through.
5. God made the waters of the Jordan stand in a heap (Josh. 3:16) for Joshua & Israel to pass over on dry ground.
6. Elijah & Elisha struck the waters with their cloak & divided them (2 Kgs. 2:8,14).
7. Naaman was healed by submerging in the Jordan 7X (2 K.5:12). He got in the water and got his healing (like the lame man of John 5 was trying to do).
8. “Your way is in the sea, and your path in the great waters…” Psalm 77:19.
9. Jonah, when disobedient, was tossed in a violent storm.
10. On the Sea of Galilee, when there was a terrible storm, Jesus rebuked the winds & waves & it was calm!
D. PRECURSOR OF THE HOLY SPIRIT
1. It seems to me that the stirrings at Bethesda are parallel to the moving of the Spirit in the Book of Acts.
a. The early Christians learned to COOPERATE with the Holy Spirit.
b. They learned to WAIT on Him.
c. They learned to become aware of His moving; to be SENSITIVE to His desire to manifest Himself at key moments.
d. They learned to YIELD to Him.
e. They learned to let Him MOVE in THEM and through them.
f. They learned to EXPECT the miraculous, to ALLOW the supernatural.
2. For all his foibles, the man at the Pool of Bethesda was trying to cooperate with God. My concern is that many Christians today aren’t doing that. Waiting, sensitive, watching, hungry, seeking.
III. JESUS COMES IN PLACE OF THE ANGEL
A. AN UNUSUAL VISIT
1. This pool is no tourist spot. You don't go to a garbage dump, slum, or emphysema ward while on vacation. This pool was similar to a hospital.
2. When Jesus came to Jerusalem, He didn't visit the palaces, but the hospitals.
3. Foreknowledge. He knew and considered how long he’d lain in that condition! Take courage! God knows how long you've suffered!
B. COMPASSION OF JESUS
1. Out of all the multitude, Christ chose this one. The most helpless of all attracts Christ's attention.
2. JESUS ALWAYS SURPRISES US!
a. We’re SHOCKED HE CARES ABOUT US! David said, “When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him?” Ps. 8:3-4. Wow! How true!
b. SHOCKED HE HAS PLANS FOR US! He is so awesome, compassionate, kind, and loving. “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future” Jer. 29:11. Sweet!
c. SHOCKED BECAUSE GOD DOESN’T HAVE THE LIMITATIONS we perceive as limiting our options.
3. As a result, we’re BLINDSIDED BY LOVE! As David says, “He does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities” Ps. 103:10.
a. Instead, He loves us.
b. He cares about our insignificant lives.
c. He plans wonderful things for us.
C. UNEXPECTED QUESTION
"Will you be made whole?"
1. "Whole" implies spiritual, as well as physical healing, was needed. This was verified when Jesus told him, "Sin no more,
lest...." Evidently his sickness was the result of a sinful lifestyle.
2. A Crazy Question.
a. Would you like $1 million? Sure! That would be a silly question if coming from us, because we don't have $1 million.
b. But not for Jesus: He has the resources. He could do it!
D. HIS FORTUNES REVERSED
1. Lange’s Commentary states that this feast that brought Jesus to Jerusalem was the Feast of Purim, the
feast of the ‘Reversed Lot.’
2. This Feast was related to Queen Esther, Mordecai, and Haman -- who cast lots for the destruction of the Jews. But God, in His providential power, reversed what seemed to be decreed!
3. And here at the Pool, Jesus again reversed what seemed to be decreed, and changed this lame man's fortunes from forlorn to fantastic. Praise God!
1. 1. Leonardo da Vinci had once worked on a great masterpiece for a long period of time.
2. There was a young student allowed to stand next to him as da Vinci worked, and the student watched as the painting evolved in front of him. The student was awed by da Vinci’s technique and observed him in hopes of picking up some of the master’s skill.
3. Just before finishing the painting, da Vinci turned to the student and gave him the brush saying “Now, you finish it.”
4. The student backed away and protested that he wouldn’t dream of touching the Master’s work, but da Vinci said, “Will not what I have done inspire you to do your best?”
5. The Lord Jesus wants us to start where He left off and take up His work.
B. THE CALL
1. For that work we need the same power Jesus had. Will you make yourself available to the Spirit so He can fill you and use you in the way He wants?
2. Will you ask God to help you become sensitive, yield & cooperate with the Holy Spirit, and expect the miraculous?
3. Let’s pray!