Summary: The healing of the man at the Bethesda Pool around the theme of Mercy.
This third miracle of Jesus recorded in the Gospel according to John is very important in our understanding of our Lord’s Ministry. It is on this occasion that the Jewish leaders begin to build their case against their Messiah by judging Him negatively because this miracle is done on the Sabbath. In fact, the next verse (v.16) says, "For this reason the Jews persecuted Jesus, and sought to kill Him, because He had done these things on the Sabbath."
As is always our goal, we want to know what this story was about for those who experienced it firsthand, but also to determine what God wants us to learn from the incident.
I. House of Mercy
A. This Bethesda pool near the Sheep Gate has actually been found under the site of the Church of St. Anne, near the sheep market gate in Jerusalem.
B. There is some question as to whether the last part of v.3 and all of v.4 should have been included in the Authorized Version of 1611. The oldest manuscripts available do not have these verses about the angel stirring the water.
C. Whether or not Vv.3,4 were in the original inspired manuscripts, we do note from the man’s statement to Jesus in v.7 that something unusual happened in the water and was associated with healing for the first one to get into the "troubled water."
D. It is not known if the troubling of the waters and the resulting healings brought about the name of this pool - Bethesda, which means "House of Mercy."
E. One thing we can be certain of: Any place that Jesus visits is a "House of Mercy."
II. Need of Mercy
A. People with various diseases and disabilities populated the porches around this pool.
B. These people are representative of the multitude of spiritually sick in our world today.
1. Without Christ, we are helpless invalids in a cruel and unfair world.
2. Let’s face it! Life’s not fair! It throws hard things at every one of us; things that we wouldn’t wish on anyone else.
3. Sure, some people can handle difficulty better than others, but no one is immune to the pains of cursed humanity.
C. It is important to be aware that hurting people constantly surround us and hurting people need love.
1. The compassionate Jesus was drawn to hurting people whether it be an adulterous woman, a questioning Pharisee like Nicodemus, or a roughneck fisherman like Peter.
2. God continues to call us to reach out to the wounded of our world.
III. Offer of Mercy
A. It is at this point in the story that Jesus asks what some consider to be an unusual, almost silly question, He asks the crippled man, "Do you want to be made well?"
1. On first thought, we might answer for him and say, "Well of course he wants to be made well, who wouldn’t."
2. Don’t be so bold as to answer for him.
a. He had been in this condition for 38 years.
1) To become well would mean a radical change in his life.
2) Would he be able to make it in society?
3) Would people treat him differently?
b. No doubt he had become close to those who gathered at the pool on a daily basis.
1) There is a sense of comfort that we receive when we are around people who share our experiences.
2) But never let that subconsciously keep you from receiving God’s blessing or highest will for your life.
c. This is in no way to say that people, who are not healed, do not really want to be healed. That mean-spirited talk has unnecessarily hurt countless people.
B. The crippled man did not even answer Jesus’ question.
1. He often asks us the same questions and we give the same responses.
a. "Well Lord, we’ve prayed and held on and we just haven’t received the answer yet."
b. "The doctors said the cancer is too far advanced."
c. "I just got laid off from my job."
d. "My husband just came home with another woman’s perfume on him."
e. "All the other kids laugh at me and call me names."
2. The crippled man gave what he considered to be the reason for his not receiving healing to this point. (read v.7) But he didn’t answer the question.
C. James 4:2 says that we have not because we ask not. I don’t think I am going to far to say that sometimes we have not because we answer not.
IV. Word (or Gift) of Mercy
A. Jesus patiently listened to the man’s sad story and then said, "Rise, take up your bed and walk."
1. What wonderful words! They must have been like cold water on a dry tongue; like soft music to frazzled nerves; like a beautiful crocus, daffodil or tulip after a long cold winter!