Evangelistic Outreach Ministries

Walking on the Water,
By Brian Baer

John 5: 1-16

There were three Jewish feasts, which were feasts of obligation—Passover, Pentecost and Tabernacles. Every adult male Jew that lived within 15 miles of Jerusalem was legally bound to attend them. If we take John 6, before John 5 we might say that this feast was Pentecost, because the events of John 6 happened when Passover was near (John 6:4). John always shows Jesus attending the great feasts, for Jesus did not disregard the obligations of Jewish worship. To him it was not a duty, but a delight to worship with his own people.

When Jesus arrived he found his way to a famous pool. It was either Bethesda, which means house of mercy, or Bethzatha, which means House of Olive. The word pool (kolumbethron) means, “to dive”. The pool was deep enough to swim in, and beneath the pool was a stream, which every now and then bubbled up and disturbed the waters. The belief was that an angel caused the disturbance and that the first person into the pool after the troubling of the water would be healed from any illness from which he was suffering.

We can assume that the man who Jesus came to had seen some sort of “miracle” but this day was not another ordinary day for this man. He was going to meet the one that would FINALLY free him of the burden that weighed him down.

Certain scholars think this passage is an allegory. The man stands for the people of Israel. The five porches stand for the five books of the law. In the porches the people lay ill. Showing us that the law could show a man his sin but could never mend it; the law could uncover a man’s weakness, but never cure it. The law sheltered the sick, but could never save them. However, John did not intend for this to be an allegory, it is a vivid stamp of factual truth. And there are always deeper truths below the surface and even simple stories are meant to leave us face to face with eternal thoughts.

From our text we know that there was a multitude of people by this pool, and many of them had different conditions, blind, lame, withered and crippled limbs.

Let’s notice two things about this wonderful story of grace and, ultimately mercy.

Things that WERE crippled:

 I.      Crippled Feet (Verses 5 & 6)

A.       Man’s Condition - Because of his disability it was unlikely, even impossible, that this man would ever be the first in the pool. He had no one to help him in, and Jesus was always the friend to the friendless, and the helper of the hopeless.

He did not read the man a lecture on the useless superstition of waiting on the water. His one desire was to help. And we are all by nature, blind, halt, withered, and lame in spiritual matters. Just as Mephibosheth, we were crippled by a fall, but thanks be to God, the Lord of Lords sent a king for me and invited me to eat at his table, and although each of us are unworthy to even have a Saviour, he cared for our condition and knew that he had to die so that we could be whole.

 II.      Crippled Feelings (Verse 7)

A.       Man’s Contempt- the word “contempt”, means “pity”. Not only was he contempt, he was Cynical, Cruel, Crushed, and Covetess (desires, yearn for). By the use of his word it was obvious that he had an alibi. This word stands for the men and women who ought, could, would, or should be something, but are not. An alibi is, basically, putting the blame on others, and the use of the alibi is as old as Adam, Eve, Aaron, and King Saul.

Adam had an alibi - “the woman whom thou gavest to be with me…” (Gen 3:12)

Eve had an alibi - “ The serpent beguiled me” (Gen 3:13)

Moses had an alibi - “I am not eloquent, I am of a slow tongue..” (Ex 4:10)

Aaron had an alibi - “The people were set on mischief. They asked me to make them some gods. I cast the gold into the fire and there came out this calf (Ex 32:24). Aaron put the blame on the people and the flame.

The ten spies had an alibi-“We were as grasshoppers... in their sight” (Nu. 13:33)

The non-church goer says he doesn’t go to church because of the preacher. The Christian says the church is full of hypocrites. Some blame their evil on heredity, saying I was a victim of it. They find comfort in a doctor, and they pass theirs sins off on the grandparents or others in the grave, perfectly safe, since none of them can deny the allegations.

There is the too busy alibi, used by those who say they do not have time for God, the church, Christian service and prayer. That is as foolish as a tree would say, “I have no time for sap.”

Jesus got through the self-pity, and self-righteousness, and gave him a question, Wilt thou be made whole? Do you want to have freedom?

 III.      Crippled Freedom (Verse 1-3)

A.       Man’s Carelessness

The Holy Spirit revealed to me something that I had never noticed before: Why wasn’t there a commotion when Jesus got to the pool of Bethesda? Usually in every account of scripture, those who need healing are thronging him. We know there were many there but they were careless of the fact that their freedom and their healing were walking in the midst of them. They were waiting on the water because either by tradition or concrete evidence, they believed that their cure was in the water. Many today put their faith on what others have said or what others have seen, and are still waiting on the water. Not realizing that the real cure for their freedom is not in the moving of the water, but in the moving of the blood on their lives. This man was really careless, we don’t know why God singled him out but it was obvious that he might have been the one who wanted to be free. God has a way of picking the ones who really WANT to be free.

He seemed to ask him a stupid question: “Wilt thou be made whole?” You might say, “of course he was wanting to be made whole, he had been sick for 38 years.” I submit to you that Jesus never asks stupid questions. And he wanted to know if he wanted to be healed. Some people are satisfied with being lame. If he were cured he would have to shoulder the burden of making a living. There are people who want to stay lame, because someone else does the work, someone else does the worrying, and they would rather sit and die by the pool, instead of stand and live for Jesus. I am glad Jesus wasn’t crippled, he was careful.

And because He was careful in who he picked, we soon realize that although there were many crippled things at the pool, there were also:

Things that WEREN’T crippled:

I.      Crippled Friend (Verse 6)

A.        Master’s Compassion

This man was friendless, he already used the alibi, now he was probably shocked by a man, who he didn’t know coming up to him claiming to be able to heal him of his 38 year infirmity. I am sure he might have said, “Friend, you are waiting on this water to heal you, but I am the living water which can spring up in your soul. I was just down in Samaria….

“Wait, “ the man might say, “you were in Samaria. But us Jews do not associate with Samaritans.”

Jesus might have said, “ I know, but you see there was this lady who was friendless, and I sat and waited on her and singled her out, because I wanted to free her just like I want to free you.” What a beautiful picture of the Master’s compassion, on people who deserved to die by the pool.

But thanks be to God, he is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother, and he told us, “I will not leave you comfortless.”

Isn’t it good to know that Jesus saw us by the pool and sought us out and he CHOSE to be our friend, and gave the man his desire?

II.      Crippled Faith (Verse 9)

B.        Master’s Cure

The man had to realize that if he were content on staying then he would not have been changed. Jesus told him to get up, as if he was telling him, “Bend your will to it, and you and I will do this thing together!” The power of God is not given with the effort of man. Nothing is truer than we must realize our own helplessness; but it is also true that miracles happen when our will and God’s power cooperate to make them possible. Jesus was commanding him to do the impossible.” Get up and carry that bed.” His bed was a light stretcher like frame-the Greek is krabbatos, which really means pallet. The man could have said, “There is no way, this pallet has carried me for 38 years, and I will never carry it. But he made the effort and along with the power of Christ, the impossible was made possible, the intangible made tangible and the abstract made concrete. The healing was complete. There are many things in this world that can defeat us. And we can decide are we going to:

      Lay on the pallet of pity or are we going to have power over our principalities.

      Lay on our bed of blame, or are we going to battle for our blessings.

      Lay on our cot of confinement or are we going to conquer with Christ.

We know the man had the faith because, immediately he got up and TOOK his bed away. That was a sign to all the multitude, “I ain’t coming back.” When God tells us to get up, carry the pallet of pity, the bed of blame, and the cot of confinement away and tell the devil, “I ain’t coming back."

WE have people that want to test drive God and bring him back in if he doesn’t drive just right. The Bible says, “Taste and see that the Lord is good” and when you get a good taste you won’t ever want to feed on the husks anymore, you’ll want hamburger. You won’t want to eat with the swine; you will want to eat sirloin. You won’t want the pit; you’ll want the porterhouse. And you will be a new creature ready to live a new life with Christ.

Lastly we notice that there was not a:

III.            Crippled Future (Verse 14,15)

A.        Master’s Charge

He was warning him in verse 14, that the eternal consequences of sin are more serious than the physical ailment. I am sure that he was excited that he was healed but Jesus let him know that even though I healed you, in order for you to be whole, you must sin no more. And when the Jews asked the man who was this that done this to you, you can tell from his words, his future was not going to be crippled.

His motive was not to agitate the Jews or try to blame Jesus for breaking the Sabbath.

He was grateful to God for his healing,

He desired to make him known to others in similar distress.

He wanted to bring the Jews to recognize Jesus for who he was.

And you need to recognize Jesus for who he is, the one who can make you WHOLE. 

Preachers: Print the above sermon and use it in your ministry. The Lord will get the glory. All we ask is that you pray for us, and let us know it is helpful. Please contact us and let us know of those being saved or helped. Return to our www.calvinevans.org Web site for more sermons.