6-Week Series: Against All Odds


Summary: Jesus reverses people's fortunes. We're shocked that God loves us, has wonderful plans for our insignificant lives,and isn't limited by the options that limit us. In one minute, everything in this man's life changed. God wants to do it for you!


John 5:1-9, 14-15



1. David, a second-grader, was bumped while getting on the school bus & suffered a two-inch cut on his cheek.

2. At recess he collided with another boy and two of his teeth were knocked loose. At noon, while sliding on ice, he fell and broke his wrist.

3. Later at the hospital, his father noticed David was clutching a quarter in his good hand. "I found it on the ground when I fell," David said. "This is the first quarter I ever found. This sure is my lucky day."


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]


1. The Pool of Bethesda has been excavated and found to be trapezoidal, 165-220 feet X 315 foot long, divided by a central partition. The four sides and partition had columns -- thus John's "five porticoes." There were stairways at the corners that allowed descent into the pools (Raymond Brown, John, V. 1, p. 207).

2. The Sheep Gate is the one through which sacrificial animals were brought to the Temple. It's exceedingly significant that Bethesda "(house of) Mercy" was by the "Sheep" (Gate is not in the Greek). It’s only in Christ that the poor sinner can find Mercy.

3. We're going to look tonight at a hopeless situation, how Jesus passed by, and how the man got set for a miracle.

4. The title of this message is "God of the Unexpected."



1. LONG DURATION. 38 years -- half of a long lifetime.

2. This is the second longest recorded affliction healed by Christ. The longest was the man born blind, who was over 40 years old!

3. 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?

4. NO MAN TO HELP ME. Abandoned, friendless. They’d given up on him having a chance.

5. ROBBED OF HEALING. "Another gets in ahead of me." No mercy, only selfishness. Dog-eat-dog world. Every man for himself.


1. Hoping/searching for a way out.

2. ILLUSTRATION: Importance of Hope

a. In his book Winning Life's Toughest Battles, psychologist Julius Siegel wrote about the 25,000 American soldiers who were held by the Japanese in POW camps during World War II.

b. "Forced to exist under inhumane conditions, many of them died. Others, however, survived and eventually returned home. The survivors were different in one major respect: they confidently expected to be released someday."

c. "As described by Robbins Readers in Holding On to Hope, ‘They talked about the kinds of homes they would have, the jobs they would choose, and the kind of person they would marry. They drew pictures of their dreams and studied subjects related to the kind of career they would pursue.’"

d. Researchers have found that a hopeful attitude can improve the immune system -- the body's defense against toxins and disease.

3. People look to everyone else but the One who can really help them -- Jesus.


If only men were as anxious about their souls as they are about their bodies!

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