This is the 15th sermon in the Wednesday night sermon series I’m preaching on Wednesday nights. I’m going through the book of John verse by verse. This sermon will be preached December 12th 2007.

John 5:1-9

How many of you have ever been desperate? I know that I have a few times in my life. I looked up the definition of desperate and it means, “reckless or dangerous because of despair or urgency; having little or no hope; giving in to despair.”

I can think of one time in my life that this feeling of desperation consumed me. It didn’t really involve me too much, but someone who happened to work under me in my department. This individual wasn’t the most stable of persons, he was rather vulgar not only in his language, but in his attitude toward people. One day, his wife up and left him. For some reason, I still don’t know really why, other than the Lord being involved, he calls me at work. He says, “Darrin, my wife just left me, and I have a knife to my throat, I’m going to kill myself!” He was talking like a madman. I got the attention of someone else, and told them to call 911, while I stayed on the phone with him. I got his address for them and continued on the phone, trying to calm him down, praying with him, trying to encourage him in some way not to end his life. Not only was it a desperate time for that person, but it was for me as well.

Now today we are going to look at another desperate person, the sick man in this passage in John 5:1-9.

Last week we saw Jesus healing an official’s son. We saw he healed in a different way, he didn’t go with the father of the son, he told him to return home and his son would be well.

We are going to look at this passage differently tonight. Let’s look at it in light of the world we live in.

With this in mind, let’s look at the passage and see what the Lord would say to us tonight.

1. Jesus returns to Jerusalem and attends a Jewish festival.

John 5:1 ISV – Later on, there was a festival of the Jews, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem.

The three synoptic gospels, Matthew, Mark, and Luke focus almost entirely on the Galilean ministry of Jesus. It is only John that we read of all these visits to Jerusalem and His ministry there.

We don’t really know what this festival was, it could have been, and most likely was a Passover, but again, the text doesn’t say. All we know is there was a festival, and Jesus attending it.

2. Act one in this drama: the pool of Bethesda.

John 5:2-4 ISV – Near the Sheep Gate in Jerusalem is a pool called Bethesda in Hebrew. It has five colonnades, (3) and under these a large number of sick people were lying-blind, lame, or paralyzed-waiting for the movement of the water. (4) For at certain times an angel of the Lord would go down into the pool and stir up the water. And the one who stepped in first after the stirring of the water was healed of whatever disease he had.

The pool of Bethesda was one of many pools located around the temple grounds. It’s location was near the sheep gate heading into the temple. The sheep gate was the gates or entrance that the sheep for the sacrifice was brought in. It was, according to one map I looked at on the north-side of the temple, away from the main entrance of the temple. The main entrance was on the east side.

The word Bethesda means, “house and mercy.” And the sick and afflicted would meet at the pool with the hopes of being healed as the waters were stirred. Notice in verse 4, that not all those who stepped into the water when it was stirred was healed, only the first one. So can you imagine the clamor and fighting to get into the pool first when the waters were stirring up, it is almost like Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving in Department stores.

Notice the type of crowd here in verse 3. It was the sick, lame, blind, and paralyzed.

Let’s apply this to our day. There are the sin sick, those with addictions (lame), those in false religion (blind), those bound up in sin (paralyzed) laying at the door of the gospel. They are searching, wanting a way out. And they think that religion, or another dose of drugs, or some other thing will help them find an answer. The only answer for them is the same as for this desperate man – Jesus Christ.

3. Acts two in the drama: Jesus and the desperate man.

John 5:5-9 ISV – One particular man was there who had been ill for thirty-eight years. (6) When Jesus saw him lying there and knew that he had already been there a long time, he said to him, “Do you want to get well?” (7) The sick man answered him, “Sir, I don’t have anyone to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up. While I’m trying to get there, someone else steps down ahead of me.” (8) Jesus said to him, “Stand up, pick up your mat, and walk!” (9) The man immediately became well, and he picked up his mat and started walking. Now that day was a Sabbath.

First off, this man had been sick for 38 years (verse 5). How many days in all these years did this man come up to this pool called, “House of Mercy,” and left, not receiving mercy.

But the good news has just arrived. You see it is not the pool that is really the “House of Mercy,” but the one who just came to the pool, Jesus Christ, He is the true “House of Mercy.”

Notice in verse 6 that Jesus saw this man, and he knew he had been there a long time. In the other Gospels it talks about Jesus being moved with compassion. And I think that this is what happens here. Jesus is watching the man struggle to get to the pool, but know one is there to help him, or even to have compassion to help him in the pool. I think Jesus heart is breaking for this man.

Church, there is a world out there that can’t help themselves, no matter how hard they try. Not only that, but it is a dog eat dog world out there. The Church is here as the hands of and feet of Jesus, we must be moved with compassion and speak those wonderful words of life that if they believe will set them free.

In verse 6, Jesus asked the man if he wanted to get well. Is he tired of fighting the crowds? Is he tired of always going home disappointed? Is he tired of being sick?

Why did He ask him that? I mean obviously the man wanted to be well?

I believe that Jesus’ question here shows that He will not force Himself upon anyone. He is sovereign, but we also have free will and choice. He will not intervene in someone’s life until they open up there life for Him to intervene in.

The man’s answer in verse 7 is telling. He is not looking to Jesus to heal him, he just wants someone to help him in the pool.

This is the same story as it pertains to our world. Those who are caught up in sin are not looking to Jesus for an answer, they just want out, not realizing that the only way out is Jesus Himself.

Jesus displays the power of his words (vv. 7-9a). The one who spoke the worlds into existence again shows the power of His spoken word. He speaks to the man to “stand up, pick up your mat, and walk.” Notice, immediately the man was healed and he picked up his mat and walked.

When pointing others to Christ as the answer, always use the word of God – the Bible – it has power to immediately change a person when they put their faith in Christ.

Romans 10:17 ISV – Consequently, faith comes from listening, and listening comes through the word of Christ.

Not trying to stir up controversy here, but I’m endeavoring to accurately interpret the Scripture. This verse in Romans is used for a lot of things. But if you read it in context it only has one meaning. Faith to come to the Lord, salvation, comes from hearing the Words of Christ or God. All of Romans 10 is talking about salvation. Look it up and read it yourself.

This healing took place on a Sabbath (v.9b). Next time we will see the controversy this causes. But today let’s look at it this way: The Sabbath was a day of rest. The day of rest for this man (his healing has come).

Anyone who comes to Christ for salvation, that day has become a Sabbath, or day of rest for them.

2 Corinthians 5:17 ISV – Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. Old things have disappeared, and-look!-all things have become new!

2 Corinthians 6:2 ISV – For he says, “At the right time I heard you, and on a day of salvation I helped you.” Listen, now is really the “right time”! Now is the “day of salvation”!


How can we apply to passage to our lives?

• There is a world outside surrounding our church walls that is sin-sick and in desperate need.
• They don’t need religion, they need Jesus.
• Sharing Jesus with them is to: (1) tell our story of how He saved us and changed us; (2) share the Gospel message itself.
• Don’t be afraid to lead someone to Christ, you don’t have to just invite them to church, but be willing to pray for them and lead them to Christ.


We all know people who are not only physically sick, but are lost and sin-sick. They can’t help themselves. They need Jesus. We are His hands and feet. Let’s go to them and do the work, knowing that the Holy Spirit is ever present to help.

Next time we are going to look at the Jews response to this man’s healing.