House of Mercy

Today I will be preaching out of chapter 5 of the book of John. This is the second time the passage has come to me in the past year. The first time I was not sure how to preach on it, but this time I have clear direction.

John 5:1-16 (NKJV): After this there was a feast of the Jews, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. Now there is in Jerusalem by the Sheep Gate a pool, which is called in Hebrew, Bethesda, having five porches. In these lay a great multitude of sick people, blind, lame, paralyzed, waiting for the moving of the water. 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. Now a certain man was there who had an infirmity thirty-eight years. 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?” 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.” Jesus said to him, “Rise, take up your bed and walk.” And immediately the man was made well, took up his bed, and walked. And that day was the Sabbath. The Jews therefore said to him who was cured, “It is the Sabbath; it is not lawful for you to carry your bed.” He answered them, “He who made me well said to me, ‘Take up your bed and walk.’ ” Then they asked him, “Who is the Man who said to you, ‘Take up your bed and walk’?” But the one who was healed did not know who it was, for Jesus had withdrawn, a multitude being in that place. 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.” The man departed and told the Jews that it was Jesus who had made him well. For this reason the Jews persecuted Jesus, and sought to kill Him, because He had done these things on the Sabbath.

Some observations from the text:

  • Jesus had come to Jerusalem because of Passover. We do not know which feast was being celebrated because it does not specify in the text.

  • Jesus had purposely gone to Bethesda to meet this lame man. This is much like the woman at the well, but He was there for a different purpose.

  • Bethesda means House of Mercy.

Here are some picture of the pools of Bethesda:

Bethesda 1.jpg
Bethesda 2.JPG

I find it it interesting that this text was almost thrown out because they could not find anything in Jerusalem that resembled the description of these pools in Bethesda. The pools were uncovered by Archaeologists in the 19th century.

Here is another interesting thing I found during my studying of the text. Verse four is not included in most modern translations. This was probably added into the text to explain why there were so many invalids at this pool. There was a legend that after the water was stirred by an angel, the first person in would be healed.

I can’t imagine this is a place where many people would want to hang out. It was probably a depressing atmosphere. These people would probably need and ask for help regularly and probably ask for money as well. The name “House of Mercy” fit with this place. Jesus saw a man with an infinity mat lying there. He knew that he had been in that condition for a long time and asked him, “Do you want to be made well?” You would think he would say yes immediately but he doesn’t.

John 5:7: 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.”

Three reasons why we don’t say yes to being healed

  1. Excuses

  2. Effort

  3. Experience

I. Excuses

It is always somebody else’s fault. The man said he had no one to put him in the water. If you were there every day for years, wouldn’t you come up with a plan to ensure you were the first one in the water? He could lay right on the edge and roll in after the water was stirred.

Marriages sometimes fall apart because of these types of excuses. God can restore any marriage but everyone has to take ownership of his or her own flaws.

  • It’s my parents’ fault - I’m this way because of how I was raised.

  • You don’t know or understand what I am going through or the challenges that I face.

  • God may have healed ____, but what I am dealing with is far more difficult. I don’t know of anyone healed of _______.

God knows and He can heal or restore anything. Think about this. Jesus is right there and the lame man doesn’t even know it. He just makes up an excuse why he can’t be made well.

II. Effort

Notice Jesus says, “You are healed.” He does’t pray for him. He tells him to rise, to pick up his bed and walk. The man has an infirmity. He was lame and could not walk. He had been lying there for years. He doesn’t move much. Jesus was telling him it was going to take some effort on his part to be healed. He had to move as a step of faith.

Two illustrations:

  • I met with a man who was dealing with pornography issues in one of my previous churches. I was his accountability partner. He had software on his computer that alerted me when he was on sites that he shouldn’t be on. However, he found a way around the software and kept falling back into old patterns. I knew that the only way to change was for Him to pursue Jesus, and that was going to take effort on his part.

  • A man in a previous church kept having health issues that were life threatening because of poor eating habits. Even after near-death experiences, he never changed those bad habits. It takes effort. You can ask for all the prayer you want, but you have a part in it as well.

Sometimes we want things to just happen with no extra effort on our part.

III. Experience

Experience is all about how we have seen God move in the past. This lame man in Bethesda thought the only way that he was going to be healed was to be the first in the water after the it was stirred. Our experience will sometimes limit God in our lives, because we put God in a box. He has to work this way.

If you are waiting for God to do something, don’t get so fixated on it happening in a certain way or during a special service. We don’t have to have a message on healing for someone to be healed. If you are wanting God to do something in someone, follow the leading and promoting of the Holy Spirit and it will happen.

John 5:4: 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.”

It seems that this man may have been in the condition that he was in because of sin. Now I am not saying that every ailment that people have is because of sin or demonic influence. People have made doctrine on this topic and I don’t agree with it. There are several examples in Scripture with that being the case, but God’s ultimate goal in any work that He does in our lives is transformation and drawing us closer to Him. There are dangers when we live our lives like Jesus never did anything and things can get worse.

James 1:6-8: But when you ask him, be sure that your faith is in God alone. Do not waver, for a person with divided loyalty is as unsettled as a wave of the sea that is blown and tossed by the wind. Such people should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Their loyalty is divided between God and the world, and they are unstable in everything they do.

The context of this verse is asking for wisdom but I believe that it goes for anything that we ask of God to do in our lives. Don’t allow doubt to enter your life. Don’t allow self-pity, complaining, or apathy. Let faith grow and deeper intimacy with the Lord. Allow a greater sensitivity and awareness of His Spirit to come into your life.

Let me close with this question. What if Jesus showed up right now in our midst? Do you think He could make you well in whatever way that needs to happen? Could He heal a weakness in your life today?