In our previous text Jesus was at Cana of Galilee and he

healed a boy in Capernaum.  He did it without even going

there.  In our text today He goes back to Judea and He heals

a man at the Pool of Bethesda in Jerusalem.


I.  Jesus returns to Jerusalem where His opposition was the



    V. 1, "After this there was a feast of the Jews; and

Jesus went up to Jerusalem."  You will recall that the

reason Jesus earlier left Judea and went back to Galilee was

because of the great opposition from the Jewish leaders in

Jerusalem.  Now John tells us that Jesus has not only gone

right back to Jerusalem itself.

    However, John also tells us the reason that Jesus went

back into Jerusalem even though He knew that He would most

certainly again draw bitter opposition.  He went there

because it was again time to observe one of the Jewish


    There was a total of seven annual Jewish feasts.  During

three of those feasts the men of Israel were all required to

return to Jerusalem.  Back in chapter two Jesus had gone to

Jerusalem to observe the Passover, which was one of the

three feasts which the men were required to attend.  We are

not told whether of not this feast was another observance of

the Passover or some other feast.  Jesus felt duty calling

and He went to Jerusalem in spite of the danger for Himself.


II.  Jesus at the Pool of Bethesda


    V. 2, "Now there is at Jerusalem by the sheep market a

pool, which is called in the Hebrew tongue Bethesda, having

five porches."  You will notice that the word, market, is in

italics, which means that it was not in the original

writing.  It was supplied by the translators hoping that

this would make the meaning of the verse a little clearer.

It is generally thought by Bible students that it would been

better if they had supplied the word "gate" instead of

"market." There was no place in Jerusalem which was used

exclusively as a sheep market.  There was, however, a

particular gate through which the sheep were brought which

were to be sacrificed at the altar.  There was a pool just

inside that gate where the sheep would be watered.

    This pool near the sheep gate was called "Bethesda,"

which means house of mercy.  One of the reasons that it was

called "The House of Mercy" is because there was a building

there which contained five porches in which sick people

gathered and waited to be cured of their diseases.

    A porch was not a house in the sense of having four

walls.  But it did have a roof over it and it may have had

one or more walls, but would not be completely enclosed.

There were five such porches around this pool.

    V. 3-4, "In these lay a great multitude of impotent

folk, of blind, halt, withered, waiting for the moving of

the water.  For an angel went down at a certain season into

the pool, and troubled the water: whosoever then first after

the troubling of the water stepped in was made whole of

whatsoever disease he had."

    This pool was apparently fed by a mineral spring and was

said to have certain healing powers for various diseases.

John said that at a certain season an angel would come down

and trouble the waters of the pool.  I am not certain just

what the angel would do.  It seems that he would either

cause the waters to stir rather noticeably or, perhaps, he

would cause gasses to bubble up through the waters.  At any

rate, the people had some who become aware that whoever was

in the water immediately after the stirring of the water

would get well of whatever disease he had.

    You will note that there is nothing said about the angel

himself working a miracle and curing the people, but rather

that the sick would get well.  It seems that there was no

instant healing, but rather that there was some kind of

natural healing which would result from the waters of the


    I do not suppose this to be the same thing which we have

at Hot Springs, Arkansas, but that is the closest thing I

can think of to compare it with so as to illustrate what was

taking place at that pool.

    But as the season would approach when the waters of the

pool would be troubled, the five porches which were built

there would begin to fill up with sick people.  They would

all hope to be able to get into the water in time to be


    I used to understand this text to say that only the one

person who would get into the pool first would be healed.  I

no longer understand that to be correct.  I now think it

means that anyone who would get into the water quickly

enough would be able to stay in the water long enough for

the healing properties of the water to take effect.  It

would follow then that those who could not get in quickly

would not be in the water long enough for healing properties

of the water to do any good.


III.  A man who had an illness for 38 years


    V. 5, "And a certain man was there, which had an

infirmity thirty and eight years."  John does not tell us

just what the man's illness was.   He does tell us that he

had been ill for thirty-eight years.  Whatever he had was

slow acting.  If it had not been, it would have killed him a

long time ago.

    Whatever it was, it had cut him out of the joys of life.

He had spent 38 years in affliction.  He was no longer able

to participate in the usual activities of life.  It had

crippled him up and handicapped him greatly.  What is more,

it was getting worse all the time.

    Also, whatever the disease was, it would apparently

never get well all on its own.  Some diseases run their

course after a certain period of time and the patient

recovers.  That was not the case with this disease.

Whatever it was, it would eventually kill him unless he

found a cure and the doctors, so far, had not been able to

help him.  He was bound to be getting pretty close to death

at this time.  Time was running out.


IV.  The question Jesus asked


    V. 6, "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?"  John says that Jesus took special note of

how long this man had been in that condition.  I cannot help

but wonder if he had not been afflicted longer than anybody

else at the pool at that time.  I personally think that this

was one of the reasons Jesus chose to heal his particular

man.  Jesus had mercy on him because he had been afflicted

longer than anybody else at the pool.  Or, perhaps that was

not the reason.  Perhaps it was something Jesus saw in this

man's heart rather than what He saw in his man's physical


    At any rate, note the question that Jesus asked him.

Jesus asked, "Wilt thou be made whole?"  That is, "Would you

like to be make whole?"  Or, "Say, mister, how would you

like to be made whole?"

    The answer one might expect would be:  "Would I!  Oh,

how much I would like to be made whole!  I would give

anything if I could just get well again!"  I think you could

have asked the same question to anybody in those five

porches and the answer would be, "I would like to be made

whole."  That would have been especially true with this man.

He had been sick for thirty-eight years.

    However, note what he actually said to Jesus.  V. 7,

"The impotent man answered him, Sir, I have no man, when the

water is troubled, to put me into the pool: but while I am

coming, another steppeth down before me."  In essence what

the man said was, "I have tried to be made whole.  I have

been to I the doctors.  I have come to this pool for many

years.  I have tried for thirty-eight years to be made


    I think that the reason that he answered Jesus as he did

was that he was trying to get on the sympathy of Jesus or

somebody.  He was hoping that he would be able to prevail

upon Jesus of somebody to stay with him and be ready to help

him get into the waters the moment they are troubled.

    He did, indeed, get sympathy from Jesus and Jesus would

help him, but not in the way that he was hoping.  He could

not have possibly imagined that Jesus would do what He did.


V.  Jesus with a cure


    V. 8, "Jesus saith unto him, Rise, take up thy bed, and

walk."  I can almost imagine that man saying, "Say that

again!  I must not have heard you right.  It sounded to me

like you said for me to get up and walk.  It sounded like

you said for me to take up my bed and walk.  You couldn't

have really said that, could you?"

    Of course, that man did not answer in that way, but it

must have sounded too good to be true.  He could never have

dreamed that such a thing would happen.

    V. 9, "And immediately the man was made whole, and took

up his bed, and walked: and on the same day was the

sabbath."  John said that immediately that man got up and

immediately he picked up his bed and immediately he walked."

It had been a long time since he had walked without

difficulty.  But now he walked without any difficulty at

all.  He was completely well.  He not only walked, but he

walked with a spring in his step.  You could see happiness

and joy on his face and spring in his step.


VI.  The question for us today


    But now I want to take that same question which Jesus

asked that man and direct it to you with just a little

different slant.  You see, you have been living in a body

that is afflicted.  Not that you have the same physical

affliction which that man had.  You don't.  But you have a

spiritual affliction.  From the time that you were born into

this world you have had a bad spiritual affliction.  The

affliction that you were born with was sin.  You were born

with the affliction of sin.

    It was an affliction that was as certain to send you to

the grave as the physical affliction that man had would send

him to the grave.  We have all sinned and the Scripture says

that the wages of sin is death.  Sin would send us all to

the grave.

    But worse than that, the affliction we had would send us

into the very pits of hell.  It would shut us out of heaven.

Sin is a terrible terrible affliction.

    What makes it so terribly bad is that there is no cure.

You can try all the good remedies you can find and you will

not be able to whip this disease.  There is no one to help.

I cannot help you.  I could not even help myself.

    The only help is Jesus.  The only cure is Jesus.  God

sent His only begotten Son into the world that whosoever

believeth in Him should not perish but have everlasting

life, and He is the only one who can save.

    Yet today through the preaching of the gospel Jesus is

asking everybody that question: "Would you like to be made

whole?  Would you like to have all your sins forgiven?  Do

you want to stay out of hell?  Do you want to go to heaven?

Do you want to be saved?"

    If you do, then let me tell you what the Bible says for

you to do.  In Matthew 11:28 Jesus says, "Come unto me all

ye that labour and are heavy laden and I will give you

rest."  In Romans 10:13 the Apostle Paul said, "For

whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be

saved."  In Acts 16:31 Paul and Silas said, "Believe on the

Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved..."



        Are you ready to come to Jesus and place your faith in

Him?  You can come to Him today if you want to.  You can

come to Him now if you want to.  Will you come to Jesus and

ask Jesus to save your soul?