Summary: Looking at what God's grace accomplishes in the life of a sinner!
God’s Amazing Grace
We preach about it, we sing about it, we even testify of the amazing grace that God has so wondrously shed abroad in our lives. What do we mean by the term grace? G.W. Knight wrote these words to describe grace: “When a person works an eight-hour day and receives a fair day's pay for his time, that is a wage. When a person competes with an opponent and receives a trophy for his performance, that is a prize. When a person receives appropriate recognition for his long service or high achievements, that is an award. But when a person is not capable of earning a wage, can win no prize, and deserves no award--yet receives such a gift anyway--that is a good picture of God's unmerited favor. This is what we mean when we talk about the grace of God.”
It appears that much of what John writes about Jesus is centered on the theme of feasts that the Jews celebrate. For example, in chapter two and verse thirteen, we have the celebration of the Passover taking place as Jesus enters the temple and cleanses it. In chapter six and verse four John tells us the Passover was nigh when Jesus did the miracle with the loaves and fish. In chapter seven and verse two John says it was the feast of the Tabernacles that was taking place in this particular instance. John tells us that it was the feast of Dedication in chapter ten and verse twenty-two when Jesus was charged with blasphemy and finally, in chapter eleven and verse fifty-five that the Passover was near when a plot was hatched to kill Jesus. Two things come to mind when we read such information. We have a decent idea of what time of the year some of these events were taking place, and we see that Jesus was very much involved in his culture as a Jewish man during his ministry.
In our particular passage of John chapter five, Jesus has come to Jerusalem and has come through the sheep gate where there is a pool nearby called Bethesda. Bethesda, according to one scholar has been excavated and found to be made up of five porches; it was spring fed; and most likely had two pools instead of one. Our text tells us it was a place where people brought the sick, lame, and diseased for healing. John records some kind of miraculous stirring of the waters and the first to step in would receive healing. This pool was a place filled with people who had no hope in life and could not help themselves. This is a clear picture of many people in our world that are in the same condition as this man. Their lives are wrecked and ruined by sin. They call out for help, but unfortunately everywhere they turn for help there is none found because they haven’t turned to the right Person. In this passage, this would become a place where one man was able to find the grace of God sweet to his soul. He would experience something through Jesus Christ that would change his life forever. His condition would no longer remain the same but he would experience radical change. This is what grace brings to the lives of the lame, the broken, and the sick in sin. Have you experienced the grace of God? Has your life had such a radical change as this man had? Is your life in such a condition that you’re not sure what to do next or where to turn to? My friend, you need to experience the wonderful grace of God. Allow me to show you five things about the grace of God from this passage!
First, I want you to notice the Place of Grace (v. 2). Verse tells us that Jesus comes to a pool over by the sheep market which is called in the Hebrew tongue Bethesda. We are also told that in this pool there are five porches where the sick and helpless people needing healing are laid. Why would we assume this is a place of grace? Because Jesus performed a miracle? Because every year God sent an angel to stir the waters to heal those of their diseases who got in the water first? I think we could come to this understanding from these conclusions alone. However, I think there is something even more conclusive than those of which we just considered. One might simply pass right over the clue of what makes this a place of grace with a simple cursory reading of the text. Did you notice that John, by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, intentionally tells us there are five porches in this pool area? You ask, “Pastor, why would such a piece of information be so important to consider? We know through archeological discovery this place has five porches and possibly two pools? Why is the number of porches so important?” I am glad you asked. My friend, Michael Hoggard writes in his book By Divine Order, “The number 5 is, without a doubt, the number for grace and redemption. It is the number that is associated with the future translation of the Church. All of these themes can be discovered in the Authorized Version of the Bible. First, we find that the 5th time Noah’s name is mentioned, it is mentioned with grace. ‘But Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord’ (Gen. 5:8). It might also be mentioned that Noah was 500 years old when he begat the lineage that was to repopulate the earth after the Flood. The first time Noah’s name is mentioned is in Genesis chapter 5. The Bible tells us that the flood waters prevailed on the earth for exactly 150 days. This breaks down to 5 months. The name of Titus is found 13 times in the Bible. For what reason I do not know at this point. However, the fifth time Titus is mentioned, it is mentioned with grace (2 Cor. 8:6).” His point is simply the number five is associated with grace throughout the Bible. From his premise on the number five we can discover that God intended to show grace in such a place as this. I am thankful that the grace of God, however, is not limited to one particular place. I am thankful that God’s grace extends far beyond the boundaries of any limitations that men might try to place upon it. The place of grace is the place where God meets you with his mercy and undeserved favor, and bestows on you the greatest healing of all; spiritual redemption and restoration! Where did such a wonderful idea of grace originate? It originated in the heart and mind of our God. If you would, Calvary is one of the most beautiful pictures of grace. It was Calvary that God, through his dear Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, expressed his grace beyond measure. I remember the words of that blessed hymn that we sing, “At the cross, at the cross, where I first saw the light; and the burden of my heart rolled away. It was there by faith I received my sight; and now I am happy all the day.” Praise God, that because of Calvary we might all come to the place of grace and receive freely.