Grace Baptist Church Decatur, IL


Pool of Bethesda

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A Walk by the Water

“The Miserable Patient and the

Mighty Physician”

John 5:1-9




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Bethesda= “House of Mercy”

The “House of Mercy” was a house of misery for many. This pool was situated where there were intermittent mineral springs.  (The moving of the water) A descending angel is disputed by liberals for this reason, however we read in Rev.16:5 about the "angel of the waters." In some way or another when the waters moved, they had a peculiar power. The affect of the bubbling, moving water upon the afflicted bodies of the people indicated to them the presence of God.  

There were 5 porches which were covered areas where the sick folk would await their opportunity to get into the healing pool. [4 pics]


Jesus was attracted to one poor sufferer (He never lost sight of the individual)...Omnipotence met impotence!


Notice:  The Market. The Multitude. The Man. The Messiah. The Mercy. The Message.




The sheep market was just inside the sheep gate in the Jerusalem wall. (Neh 3:1)  This was the gate through which the lambs were brought to be offered as sacrifices by worshippers in the temple, and likewise the gate out of which Christ would have proceeded on his trek to Calvary.

Those who traveled to Jerusalem from other cities at Passover time could not bring their own sacrificial animals, and it was customary for them to buy a lamb at the sheep market.


“There is” – ever present.

“by the sheep market” – the sheep gate – the place where the sacrifice was made.

“a pool”. This pool had a miraculous healing balm about it.


“There is a fountain filled with blood –

drawn from Immanuel’s veins;

and sinners plunged beneath that flood;

lose all their guilty stains.”




There was a great multitude of people that filled these five porches waiting for the next opportunity to get into the healing waters.


        A. They Were Sick.

We see in Vs. 3 that a great number of sick (impotent) folk were laying on the porches by the sheep gate. Their condition speaks of physical blindness and paralysis, but it also represents a picture of lost souls blinded by the devil and crippled by sin. These sick folk were “waiting for the moving of the water” in the pool. This moving of the water was from heaven, not from earth, and there was no healing virtue in the water until that certain time.


        There were the blind who could not see.

        There were the lame who could not walk.

        There were the withered who were deformed and paralyzed.

        There were so many who were poor and beggarly.


Notice that the identity of these had no bearing on their being healed. No one received special attention because of who he/she was. There were no special support or interest groups that went from porch to porch doing social assistance. No one had advantage over others.


        Being wealthy had no advantage.

        Being good – no advantage.

        Having a goodly heritage – no advantage.

        Being the poorest – no advantage.


This would tell us that no one can claim any advantage when coming to the Lord Jesus Christ. (Acts 10:34 KJV)  "Then Peter opened his mouth, and said, Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons:" You have the same access to Christ as does anyone.


        B. They Were Sinners.

This man needed Christ’s forgiveness and His redemption. The rest of the porch dwellers needed that same healing touch…much more imp’t than any physical healing they needed, but God often gave both.


They were sick, They were sinners…


        C. They Were Sentenced.

(John 3:18 KJV)  "He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God."


        None of us are declared innocent until we are proven guilty, and let Christ bail us out!

All were condemned to die. The fact that man is a sinner automatically sentences him to death…Jew and Gentile alike. Heritage carries no influence for the sinner.  Kings, Queens, and Presidents alike are sentenced.


We see the multitude, that…

they were sick, they were sinners, they were sentenced.


III. THE MAN Vs. 5-7.


In Vs. 5 we see “a certain man” – no name is given – no personal details were given – therefore this could be any man. He represents you and me


Jesus came to Him. (John 6:44 KJV)  "No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day."

Jesus asked him..."wilt thou be made whole?"...Had he lost all hope of ever being healed?...Had his heart withered as well as his limbs?..."


        A. He Was Disabled.

(John 5:5 KJV)  "And a certain man was there, which had an infirmity thirty and eight years." No doubt this man was born with this disability, and was incurable. This pictures man’s inability to redeem himself.


That is the spiritual condition of mankind. He is disabled and incurable. We are all born with this incurable disease, and without the intervention of the Lord Jesus Christ everyone will die with this dreadful disease and go to hell. There are no exceptions. The thirty-eight years that the man lived in this condition is only a picture of God’s grace. It tells us that before the man died of his sickness, God intervened in his life and healed him.


If you are saved today, it is by that same grace. Before you died from your sin-sickness, God intervened in your life and healed you. The Holy Spirit of God came and convicted you of your sin against God and drew you to the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ.


        B. He Was Desperate.

He had been there for 38 years. How many of you would go to a doctor’s office and wait there 38 years without seeing the doctor? Once a year the nurse would come out and say, “Who’s next?” Everyone would make a dash to the door, and whoever got there first was the next patient. This would mean that the man had had 37 other opportunities to get into the pool but had failed. Time would run out someday. He knew if he could just get into that pool he would be made whole.


(Prov 8:34 KJV)  "Blessed is the man that heareth me, watching daily at my gates, waiting at the posts of my doors."


        C. He Was Disappointed. Vs. 7.


He tried to make his way to the pool on his own, yet never could. This is man trying to prepare himself for heaven. Man’s efforts will never get him to the healing station. Turning over a new leaf in life will bring nothing but greater disappointment. Trying to elevate yourself up the spiritual ladder will avail nothing but disappointment.

Don’t let disappointment overtake you today. Jesus Christ will come by where you are waiting and He will cleanse you of all sin. He will make you whole and pure. (Rev 3:20 KJV)  "Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me."


        D. He Was Destitute.

This may have been his last year. He may have thought, “If I don’t get there now I may never get in.” Time will run out for everyone. Every unsaved person will say, “No” for the last time.

        Are you destitute today?  At any moment you could be!




(John 5:6 KJV)  "When Jesus saw him lie, and knew that he had been now a long time in that case, he saith unto him, Wilt thou be made whole?"


        A. What He Knew.

                His omniscience. There is nothing about you that He does not know. He knows how sin sick you are.

                And He loves you in spite of who you are and what you are.


        B. What He Said. “Wilt thou be made whole?"

                1. Every person must answer that question.

                2. The question requires man’s approval. He will save no one against their will. No one will be in heaven that did not want to go there.


        C. What He Did.

Jesus didn’t just pat him on the head and say, “Everything is going to be all right. Just keep your chin up.” Jesus knew that the man could not do for himself. He knew that the man was disabled, desperate, disappointed, and destitute. He knew that the man was doomed within his own abilities; therefore, He did for him what he could not do for himself.


Oh! Let me announce to you today the Messiah is walking by where you are today. He is looking for you. He knows your condition. He died for your sin. He took your guilt and offense upon his own body, and He asks you, “Wilt thou be made whole?” What will your answer be?




Only by His mercy can we have the opportunity to be made whole.


The subject of this scripture is “a pool - a place of healing”. It is called ‘Bethesda’ – a place of mercy.” It had five porches on it that permitted the sick folk to wait until they could get into the pool.


Bethesda signifies literally, the house of mercy. It got this name probably from the cures which God mercifully performed there. It is likely the porches were built for more convenient access for these who would come hoping to be healed.


It does not appear that any person was obliged to pay man for what the mercy of God freely gave in mercy.


Vs. 8        Our Lord Jesus cures him with His words: “Rise, take up thy bed, and walk.”


He is told to rise and walk; a strange command to be given to an impotent man, that had been long disabled; but this divine word had divine power; it was a command to the disease to be gone, and his body to be strong.  But it was also His directive the man, to see if he would believe and give it a try in faith.


The conversion of a sinner is the cure of a chronic disease; this is ordinarily done by a word of command: Arise, and walk; turn, and live.


“Mercy there was great, and grace was free;

Pardon there was multiplied to me;

There my burdened soul found liberty, At Calvary.




“Rise, take up thy bed, and walk.”


        A. It Was A Complete Message.

                Called for faith and action!  He must accept and respond.


        B. It Was A Certain Message.

1. He didn’t ask the man, “Are you trying to get to the pool?”           


2. He didn’t say, “Let me help you into the pool.”

Here is the way it would be done today: The religious and social groups would have called for a united effort to raise money to build a portable, mechanized ramp to transport him to the water. [man’s wisdom]


3. His message had nothing to do with the pool at all.


The Lord’s message to him is loaded with faith. For thirty-eight years the man had been unable to walk, yet Vs. 9 says, “Immediately”. The man acted in faith.


If you’re not sure you’re saved, God’s message to you today is, “stand up, walk the aisle, and make this decision!”

The message to others today may not be, “Rise, take up thy bed, and walk”, but rather, “Take your Bible, and go talk to someone.”


The message may be, “Trust and Obey.” Or it may be, “Help others.” But the truth of the matter is that there is a message from the Lord for you today, and that message must be obeyed if you are to see the great works of the Lord.


Had this man refused to do as the Lord said, he would no doubt have died on that porch. He would have died having rejected the only cure that was available. He would have died having had the opportunity to respond. 


Complete, certain…


        C. It Was A Comforting Message.

Think of the joy and gladness that was flowing through this man when he made that effort to get up and he was able to get up. Think of the joy when he stooped over to pick up his bedroll and his body did what he told it to do. Think of the joy as he took that first step. What a comforting message it was that the Lord gave to him. 

        So it is w/ salvation…you take just one step, and God will take the rest!


There are other comforting messages from the Lord.  Here’s the real pool!

(John 4:14 KJV)  "But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life."

(Mt. 11:28 KJV)  "Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest."


Maybe you have a ton of pressure upon you: “Come unto me”.

Maybe you have talked to various ones about your problems, and there seems to be no answer: “Come unto me.”

Maybe the money matters in your house are hurting: “Come unto me.”

Maybe you feel all alone: “Come unto me.”

Whatever your problem is, Jesus says, “Come unto me.”

If you are still lost in your sins, Jesus calls out to you today.


If you are still following your own will over the will of the Lord, Jesus calls out to you today; “Will you rise, and be healed.”?


INVITATION—[remain seated, rise and walk!]