Summary: This message deals with the theology of sickness and suffering in reference to sin.
The Theology of Sin And Sickness
Can you imagine living in a world without sickness? In such a world there would be no need for physicians, hospitals, health clinics, or nursing homes. There would be no sickness with fever, no crippling due to disease, no need for glasses and no loss of teeth. You say, you must be describing Heaven. The answer could be "yes," but actually I am describing the earth. I am describing an actual place identified in the Scriptures located upon the earth. The place is the garden of Eden before Adam and Eve sinned.
After their sinning, things changed drastically. There was a "quantum leap" from a world free of disease and death to a world plagued by disease and death of all description. The original sin ushered in a viral and bacterial invasions that began to make war against all the living. The Book of James tells us in chapter one, verse 15, "Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death." To die, many times that death must be preceded by sickness.
All sickness is a by-product of man’s original sin. But all sickness, when incurred is not always a result of a particular sin. However, in I Corinthians 11:29-30 it says, "For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body. For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep." The sin associated with the sickness mentioned here was not properly confessed and judged and therefore there was the chastening hand of God which resulted in sickness and finally death (I Corinthians 11:32).
There is a natural occurring of disease caused by either sinful habits or sinful lifestyles. Cirrhosis of the liver is often caused by alcohol consumption, whereas hardening of the arteries result from gluttony. Smoking can cause lung and vascular problems leading to sickness and death. There are also sexually transmitted diseases such as AIDS and different forms of venereal diseases that are the results of sinful lifestyles.
Also to be considered, there are many sickly, dying saints who have not been guilty of a particular sin or a sinful lifestyle. They have simply been called on to minister through their own personal suffering. This study is not to judge every sickness to determine for what purpose it is. Only God can ultimately do that. Yet a careful examination of our text discloses that this "certain man" had his sickness due to some sin. For thirty-eight years he suffered because of that sin, and after he was healed he was warned to "sin no more, lest a worse thing come unto thee" (v. 14). As we look at this man and his malady, may we observe, "the place that the sick man was found."
I. THE PLACE THAT THE SICK MAN WAS FOUND. vv. 1-6
While the Jews were piously observing their religious festivities, the certain man of our text was pitifully passing time in hopes of some measure of deliverance from his awful dilemma. Yet for thirty-eight years nothing had happened. The place where the man lay was a place of shelter for those who were sick. It also was a place of on-going suffering of the sick.
This pool was called in the Hebrew tongue Bethesda which means "house of mercy." This pool had five porches. As a student of the Scriptures, I could not help but notice the typology of the text. The number five in Bible hermeneutics speaks of God’s grace or of His goodness. The pool was called "mercy" and borrowing from that beloved pastoral, the twenty-third Psalm, the last verse says, "Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me of the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever." As pathetic and miserable as this person must have been, after having suffered for thirty-eight years, he was still under the providential watch care of God’s "goodness and mercy." Regardless of how wicked we may find ourselves to be, and how miserable in that state of wickedness we may be, we cannot escape the goodness and mercy of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
The poor miserable creature that lay in hopes of moving himself to the "moving waters" was enjoined by those who were described as "impotent folk, blind, halt, and withered." Again in the study of numbers, the number four is the world or creation number. There are four seasons: Spring, Summer, Fall and Winter. There are four directions,: North, South, East and West.
The typical message here is that there are four listed groups. These four groups represent all people of the world in their "sin-sickened" state. All are needy. The Lord Jesus visited one of these souls in his desperate need. The Scriptures tells us that it was a "certain man" that He was after. God is a God of certainties. He refers to certain men and things throughout the gospels. Just as their was a certain man here who was a benefactor of the goodness and mercy there was also in Luke a "certain rich man" who rejected God’s grace and mercy lifting "up his eyes, being in torments" (Luke 16).