“The Works That I Do In My Father’s Name, They Bear Witness Of Me.” (John 10:25)
Please have your Bible open to the Gospel of John chapter 5:1-16.
Imagine for a moment that back in in the year 1975 you took sick with some debilitating illness and for the last thirty-eight years you have been unable to find any relief. What would make your desperate situation even more discouraging is the knowledge that there is a specialist at the hospital right down the street who has an opening on his schedule—but you can’t find anyone to take you to see him.
What a helpless and depressing situation!
Imagining such a situation might help us understand what the man in our text had been going through. The evangelist John reports that for thirty-eight years “a certain man” suffered from a debilitating “infirmity” of some kind. And then consider that this poor man was within reach of relief from his illness, but he had no way of grasping it.
You see, in the city of Jerusalem a sort of hospital or infirmary had been set up at the pool of Bethesda. Many sick people were brought there to lie in the shelter of five porches built near the pool. Whenever the waters bubbled up, the sick were placed in the water, and God caused them to be healed.
Having been sick for thirty-eight years, the man did not have the strength to get his weak body off his mat and into the water. And what had to be even more disheartening is that no one there would help him into God’s healing waters at Bethesda.
No one, that is, until Jesus arrived. Jesus helped the man in a way no one else ever had or could. “Jesus said to him, ‘Rise, take up your bed and walk.’ And immediately the man was made well, took up his bed, and walked.”
In just an instant Jesus, the Great Physician, overcame what had been plaguing the body of this man for almost four decades! His withered and weakened body was immediately restored so that not only did he have the strength to walk, but he also had the strength to carry the very bed to which he had been confined for so many years.
This was truly a miracle—that is, something that doesn’t occur naturally but requires the divine power of Almighty God. Such power Jesus as the Son of God possessed.
But there is more! As is often the case, the Great Physician was interested in more than caring for physical or bodily needs. He cared for both body and soul. Having taken care of the man’s physical infirmity, Jesus later found the man in the temple and told him, “See, you have been made well. Sin no more, lest a worse thing come upon you” (v. 14).
“Worse…?” What could possibly be worse than suffering from a crippling illness for so many years? Well, what about the everlasting “infirmary” of hell?! In that place of torment there will be found no patio awnings to give shade from the wrath of God nor pools of water to give relief from hell’s scorching fire!
The Lord Jesus did not want a “worse thing” to come upon this man, nor does He wish such a thing to come upon us. Therefore He warns about the reality of sin and calls one and all to repentance.
But, dear reader, Jesus does more than warn us—much more! Quoting from the book of the prophet Isaiah, Matthew writes of Jesus, “He Himself took our infirmities and bore our sicknesses” (Matthew 8:17). The holy Son of God took our sin upon Himself, in His body, and suffered that “worse thing” on account of our sin. On Calvary’s cross Jesus suffered the wrath of God and the pains of hell in order to redeem and rescue us from sin and its consequences!
Fellow Christians, Jesus’ healing of this sick man proves both that He is God and that He has the power to take away the spiritual infirmity of sin! As the Great Physician of body and soul He provides instant and immediate healing also to our souls through His word of forgiveness.
Hear the crucified and risen Lord say also to you, “See, you have been made well…!”
Jesus, grant that balm and healing
In Thy holy wounds I find,
Every hour that I am feeling
Pains of body and of mind.
Should some evil thought within
Tempt my treacherous heart to sin,
Show the peril, and from sinning
Keep me ere its first beginning. Amen.