Summary: Too often in life, we find it easier to complain and wallow in our self pity, than to accept healing from Christ.
Hopeless and Helpless?
June 2, 2013
Have you ever felt hopeless — helpless — at the end of your proverbial rope? That’s a loaded question, because we’ve all been there. In one way, or many ways, we’ve been there. When we’re there, we have options, even when we don’t think so. Today and next week, we’re going to look at a passage which leads us to talk about being hopeless and helpless.
In John 5, we read a story about a question and a healing to a hopeless and helpless man.
2 Now there is in Jerusalem by the Sheep Gate a pool, which is called in Hebrew, Bethesda, having five porches.
3 In these lay a great multitude of sick people, blind, lame, paralyzed, waiting for the moving of the water.
4 For an angel went down at a certain time into the pool and stirred up the water; then whoever stepped in first, after the stirring of the water, was made well of whatever disease he had.
5 Now a certain man was there who had an infirmity thirty-eight years.
6 When Jesus saw him lying there, and knew that he already had been in that condition a long time, He said to him, “Do you want to be made well?”
7 The sick man answered Him, “Sir, I have no man to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up; but while I am coming, another steps down before me.”
8 Jesus said to him, “Rise, take up your bed and walk.”
9 And immediately the man was made well, took up his bed, and walked. And that day was the Sabbath.
10 The Jews therefore said to him who was cured, “It is the Sabbath; it is not lawful for you to carry your bed.”
11 He answered them, “He who made me well said to me, ‘Take up your bed and walk.’”
12 Then they asked him, “Who is the Man who said to you, ‘Take up your bed and walk’?”
13 But the one who was healed did not know who it was, for Jesus had withdrawn, a multitude being in that place.
14 Afterward Jesus found him in the temple, and said to him, “See, you have been made well. Sin no more, lest a worse thing come upon you.”
Do you want to be made well? Wow! What a loaded question. It sounds rude and callous. How could Jesus even ask that question to a man who was really, really weak? To a man who was obviously sick? Jesus was in Jerusalem and He went to this place called Bethesda. We don’t know why He was there, we just know Jesus was there.
Bethesda is quite the name of this place. Bethesda literally means “House of Mercy.” This was anything but a house of mercy for the sick. It was mostly a house of misery. For many years people didn’t believe Bethesda existed, because in the 5th century a Byzantine basillica was built over the vacated pool area.
According to verse 4, it’s believed that somehow an angel of the Lord would periodically, and we don’t know how often, would stir the water and there would be some type of healing properties which would be supernaturally put in the water and the first person in, would be healed. When the water would bubble, the people believed this indicated the presence and power of God. There were 5 porches where the people would wait for their opportunity to get into the pool and find healing.
Jesus was attracted to one poor sufferer. Jesus approached this man who was described as having an infirmity or as an invalid. Literally, he was a man who was without strength. Some say he was paralyzed, but I don’t believe that because in verse 7, he said to Jesus, “when the pool is stirred, and I am going another steps down before me.” He didn’t refer to others trying to help him in the pool, but he was trying to use his own limited power.
Now, remember the way people looked at sickness in that day. If you were really sick, it was caused by your own sin, or the sin of your parents. They believed God was always punishing us for our sin. Now, if that were always true, then we would all be in really bad shape, because we’ve all sinned and fallen short of God’s glory. But in this situation, there was some sin in this man’s life which caused this, or at least perpetuated his sickness.
After the man is healed, we read in verse 14, Jesus meets him in the temple and said to him, “See, you have been made well. Sin no more, lest a worse thing come upon you.” We can make lots of guesses, but that would not get us anywhere, so suffice it to say there was some sin issue. But sin does not have to be the cause of our sicknesses and struggles in life.