Saved By the Power of God
(Sorry for the static, we are meeting in a new location while renovations continue)
Primary Truth Taught- We are dead in sin and only God can raise us from the dead and save us.
Today we’re looking at an account that has a lot to say about the inability of man and the power of God. We’ll look together at a sad scene as Jesus walks around the great city of Jerusalem. John tells us that there is a multitude of sick and lame and paralyzed all waiting for something that will never happen, all waiting to somehow be miraculously healed by the water in the pool of Bethesda. There was a tradition or really a superstition that said that the water would be stirred and the first one in would be healed. This shows how desperate these people were.
Human Need Met
Do you believe God can heal the sick, raise the dead, and save the sinner? These are foundational questions that this passage addresses. Our need today is to have our faith strengthened. God can but if He doesn’t then the suffering is best for us. This too we must believe.
In God’s providence we approach this passage today. This is God’s Word for us today at GCC.
John 5:1–9 (ESV)
5 After this there was a feast of the Jews, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem.
2 Now there is in Jerusalem by the Sheep Gate a pool, in Aramaic called Bethesda, which has five roofed colonnades. 3 In these lay a multitude of invalids—blind, lame, and paralyzed. 5 One man was there who had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. 6 When Jesus saw him lying there and knew that he had already been there a long time, he said to him, “Do you want to be healed?” 7 The sick man answered him, “Sir, I have no one to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up, and while I am going another steps down before me.” 8 Jesus said to him, “Get up, take up your bed, and walk.” 9 And at once the man was healed, and he took up his bed and walked.
After this there was a feast of the Jews, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem.
2 Now there is in Jerusalem by the Sheep Gate a pool, in Aramaic called Bethesda, which has five roofed colonnades. 3 In these lay a multitude of invalids—blind, lame, and paralyzed.
Here we look to the setting. Jesus had journeyed up to Jerusalem. This was His second visit there since His ministry began, the first visit was marked by Him turning over the money tables that some had set in the Temple to make a profit.
John is not specific here. Many believe that there was probably a number of months that had elapsed since Chapter 4, maybe even as much as a year. So there seems to be a transition from Chapter 4 to Chapter 5. We see the phrase, After this.
No one really knows exactly what feast it was that Jesus was attending. So this section begins with some unknowns.
Let’s look to the scene a little bit more closely…
The Jews were feasting and celebrating and within a stones throw laid many people who were sick and paralyzed. I believe John has given us an amazing contrast here. First we see that the Jews, it seems, did not care for the sick and lame within their midst. They were good at turning their head the other way when there was someone who was in need. We should also notice at this pool the Bible tells us laid a multitude on sick people. Some were blind, some lame, some like the in our story today was paralyzed.
As Jesus comes to the pool a scene of desperation greets him, a multitude of people lying helpless. All these were made in God’s image and all totally unable to do anything to help themselves.
Would I be out of place to suggest that what Jesus saw that day is a picture of sinful depraved humanity? These folks lay helpless unable to save themselves, unable to to the first thing to help themselves, desperately clinging to some small shred of hope.
John presents this miracle to show that Jesus came to save those who are totally depraved and those that cannot save themselves.
There are two doctrines today that we must look at to really see the setting here. The first is the doctrine of original sin. By original sin we mean that because of the fall, the sin of Adam, we as his offspring and he as our representative head, we are all plagued by sin. Original sin is so pervasive that it has affected us in every way. Original sin is the condition we were born in.
Psalm 51:5 (ESV)
5 Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity,
and in sin did my mother conceive me.
King David, like all people was a sinner before he ever committed his first sin. This is because the Fall of Adam and Eve took us all with them. While we are born physically alive we are also spiritually dead at birth. Original sin means that we are sinners not because we have sinned, but that our first parents made us sinners, our nature having been corrupted by their rebellion.
There is also a second doctrine we must see today and it’s the doctrine called Man’s Total Depravity. If you’re into the Tulip acrostic, total depravity is the T. Total depravity means that mankind has been completely and fully affected by sin and the fall. It doesn’t mean that people are as wicked as they can get but it means that every part of our being is depraved and affected by sin. In other words,
In this state, the Bible calls us dead. We are completely helpless much like these gathered around the pool that could do nothing to save themselves, neither can sinful man do anything to save themselves. So, the Bible’s teaching is that there is no human faculty that is not fatally corrupted by sin.
I want us to see something here today. God demands perfect obedience and loyalty all the time. He expects absolute conformity to His demands, no exceptions. Now, mankind, because of sin, cannot carryout what God demands. So, not only are we dead and depraved in our natural state but this isn’t the worst thing. The worst thing is that our state of deadness keeps condemning us because we continually fail to keep the commands of God. Do you see how bad our condition is before God? We are worse than a multitude of blind and lame and paralyzed people lying helpless around this pool.
1 Corinthians 2:14 (ESV)
14 The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned.
So, in our deadness the very things that could help our condition are nothing but absurdities. They sound so utterly stupid to us that we refuse the very cure because we lack the spirit who would bring it into focus.
I do want to spend a few minutes today examining this crucial doctrine of Total Depravity because it goes against the our natural worldview. Most people in our culture want to tell us that people are basically good and that because of some environmental issue they do bad things. This worldview, which is not the Bible’s worldview wants to take a stance that says things like this…If we can just get those evil guns out of the hands of the people then we wouldn’t have as many murders. In their mind the evil that causes murder are the guns. The Bible teaches very clearly that the issue is not external but internal. Man is wicked through and through.
How bad is it? From head to toe mankind is wicked…
One commentator makes a biblical list…
The Bible’s catalogue of natural corruption runs from bottom to top. Isaiah writes, From the sole of the foot even to the head, there is no soundness in it (Isaiah 1:6). Included are our hands, which are full of blood (Isaiah 1:15); our feet, which run to evil (Proverbs 1:16); our tongue, which is used to deceive (Romans 3:13); our eyes, which are haughty (Proverbs 21:4);our ears, which are dull of hearing when God is speaking (Isaiah 6:10); our minds which are futile and darkened in…understanding (Ephesians 4:18); and our hearts—especially our hearts—which are corrupt. Jeremiah exclaims, The heart is deceitful and desperately sick; who can know it? (Jeremiah 17:9). 
5 One man was there who had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. 6 When Jesus saw him lying there and knew that he had already been there a long time, he said to him, “Do you want to be healed?” 7 The sick man answered him, “Sir, I have no one to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up, and while I am going another steps down before me.”
Man’s attempt to save himself is pictured as this paralyzed man fails repeatedly to get to the pool while it is stirred.
Lets look quickly today at something that you may be wondering about. Where is verse 4? If you have an NIV, ESV, NASB or other versions verse four is missing and probably found down in a footnote. That’s because verse 4 is not found in the older manuscripts. Therefore, most likely is a Scribal addition to the original. Verse 4 is the common held view of the day. The pool had no healing powers but many believed it did.
This man’s power to heal himself has just now went from bad to worse. This is a very good picture of religion today.
Notice that he is placing all his hope in getting into the water when it is bubbling up thinking that he’ll be healed. What he’s trying so hard to do can’t heal him even if he was successful. Let me translate…man’s religion of works is a scam. People try so very hard in religions to be good or live by some code which they fail to do, but even if they could, they would still fail to save themselves. The idea that we can be saved based on our efforts is a scam. We cannot so, we can try and try but the entire system is faulty. If we succeeded we would still fail.
The common held view of the day was rather superstitious and it is captured in verse 4…
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.
We must be able to separate superstition and religion from biblical truth. This man did not need to fight his way to the water but needed living water that Jesus had.
The other issue I must comment on is this, let’s suppose the man did make it to the water, which he couldn’t and let’s suppose the water did heal him, which it couldn’t, he still would be a invalid before God. He would still die someday and go to hell and eternal punishment. Do you see how futile man’s efforts are?
8 Jesus said to him, “Get up, take up your bed, and walk.” 9 And at once the man was healed, and he took up his bed and walked.
The good news for this man was that Jesus Christ, King of Kings and Lord of Lords, Creator of the Universe, God’s eternal Word, Messiah, walked up to this man and spoke the Words, Get up! Do you see how easy it is for God to save someone? Do you see how easy it is for God to heal someone?
The Jewish leaders and others had ignored this man. They had conveniently looked the other way. But not Jesus. Our Lord came for this man. He came to Jerusalem and one thing on His list was to save this poor soul.
Now I’m sure some of have been wondering this entire time if Pastor Brian is taking a physical healing and spiritualizing it allegorically. Perhaps that may be true if it wasn’t for this one Greek word Jesus uses, egeirei (aagoraa). What does this word mean? Here it’s translated Get up, but most other places its it’s translated rise from the dead. Jesus explains this miracle to the Jews a few verses later and explains what amazing authority the Father has given Him…
John 5:21 (ESV)
21 For as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, so also the Son gives life to whom he will.
It’s very clear that He refers to physical and spiritual life. In other words, Jesus has the power to heal and to save anyone He desires. Of all those at the pool that day, Jesus did not have to save any but by God’s grace and for His glory He saved this man.
One thing highlighted in this text is truly God’s power to restore. By simply a Word this man is raised from the dead spiritually and restored physically. It all happened immediately. That’s power. It shows Jesus as Creator, giving this man new legs and a new heart all at the same time. This man knows how to walk and balance when for 38 years he’s been an invalid. His muscles which previously were atrophied now have God’s strength to hold the weight of his body…and a 100 other things.
1 Corinthians 4:20 (ESV)
20 For the kingdom of God does not consist in talk but in power.
Jesus’ Words have great power and authority…
Remember what He said to Matthew the Tax Collector? Follow Me…and he rose up and followed Him (Matthew 9:9)
That is a very similar idea. With the words of Jesus come the power to obey.
Often in the Gospels we see Jesus healing both physically and spiritually. We must have confidence that He can do both at any time. We also must see that the greater of the two is the spiritual healing.
Have you considered your condition before God? Are you one who have received Jesus’ healing and given a new heart to follow Him?
Declaration of Grace
In the mercy and grace of Almighty God, Jesus Christ was given to die for us, and for His sake God forgives us all our sins. To those who believe in Jesus Christ He gives the power to become the children of God and gives to them the Holy Spirit. May the Lord, who has begun this good work in us, bring it to completion in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen
 Reformed Expository Commentary: John by Richard Philips, 293
 Reformed Expository Commentary: John by Richard Philips, 294