Summary: This is from a series on the life of Christ.
The Jesus Series
“38 Years at the Pool”
July 18, 2004
Jesus Christ was God come in the flesh, we believe, and we’ll discuss that some more today; at the same time, Jesus was a Jewish man, Who grew up with Jewish religious practices. Thus, it isn’t at all strange that we find Him returning to Jerusalem for one of the several Jewish feast times of the calendar year. We are not told exactly which feast is in view here; commentators differ in their guesses, to which my own personal response is that if God felt it germane to the story, He’d have included it in His perfect Word. As John tells the story, there was in Jesus’ time a pool—actually, according to archaeological research, likely two adjoining pools which were separated by and surrounded by five distinct porches. These twin pools lay on the northeast side of the city of Jerusalem, and were large and very deep, perhaps as deep as 75 feet. Now, the King James unfortunately contains what is almost certainly an addition by some overeager scribe, which make up the end of verse 3 and all of verse 4, which suggests that God sent an angel periodically to roil the waters of the pool. According to the King James, each time the angel disturbed the water, the first one down into the pool would be healed of whatever ailment afflicted him.
What seems clear is that this was the superstitious belief of many, who lay around on these porches that surrounded the pool hoping to win the health lottery, as it were. In point of fact, what is much more likely is that the periodic disturbances were caused by an intermittent underground spring which would from time to time burst into action and cause a bubbling appearance. Perhaps this natural phenomenon attracted this superstition for the same reason that mineral springs have long been frequented for their healing properties; during our trip out west, we visited just such a place: Hot Springs, South Dakota. For years the springs were valued for their medicinal purposes; today, the site of the main springs houses a building that is used for a…water park! Personally, barreling down a water slide is a bit more fun than sitting in mineral baths! But I digress…
At any rate, Jesus has an agenda in mind as He makes His way to the pool that day. Of all the people waiting there in what would resemble a doctor’s office waiting room (without the appointments), He chooses one man, a man who for some 38 years has suffered with some form of paralysis, and engages the man in conversation. He asks what at first blush might appear to be an obvious question: “Do you want to get well?” Let’s take a look for a few moments at the lame man, as we consider the study in contrasts that we find between the characters in the story.
A Study in Contrasts
I. The Lame Man
I’m going to ask you, this morning, to help out with some observations that you might have about this lame man. What might be true of him? (Allow for congregational participation; make sure to make the following points)
Desperate – despite the title of my message, the fact is that we’re not sure how long he had hung out at the pool, only how long he had been paralyzed. But the fact is that he has likely exhausted all other resources and is hanging out by the pool on the odd chance that there might there be found a cure.
Gullible – we must say that he is gullible if he has pinned his hopes on the magical. At the same time, we see so much of this today, do we not? Last week we read of a woman who won $118 million after taxes playing the lottery; what we didn’t hear of was all of the losers, which was everybody else, from the guy who threw away a buck to those who wasted much greater sums. The lottery ads say, “odds are, you’ll have fun!” Well, maybe so, maybe not, but odds are that you will lose far more money than you will ever win! Others believe that they’ll get out of their fix if they say enough “Hail Mary’s” or make the sign of the cross enough or put a plastic Jesus on their dashboard. We could go on and on, but this fellow is banking on a miracle from a dubious source.
But notice as well
II. The Loving Savior
Jesus is the hero of the story; in fact, if we were to skip over to John 20:31, we’d read that John says that he has written his entire gospel for the purpose “that (people) might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing (they) might have life in His name.” Though we’ll talk about the Jewish leaders, they aren’t the point. Though a man goes away healed, his healing isn’t the point. Jesus healed many people, and yet only a select few have their stories recorded in the Bible. John chooses this story because it helps us know more about Jesus, Who is the Point!