Becker Bible Studies Applications
John 5:1-16 - The Impotent Man at the Pool in Bethesda
"After this there was a feast of the Jews; and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. Now there is at Jerusalem by the sheep [market] a pool, which is called in the Hebrew tongue Bethesda, having five porches. 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. And a certain man was there, which had an infirmity thirty and eight years. 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 5:1-6 KJV)
"So Jesus came again into Cana of Galilee, where he made the water wine. And there was a certain nobleman, whose son was sick at Capernaum. When he heard that Jesus was come out of Judaea into Galilee, he went unto him, and besought him that he would come down, and heal his son: for he was at the point of death. Then said Jesus unto him, Except ye see signs and wonders, ye will not believe. The nobleman saith unto him, Sir, come down ere my child die. Jesus saith unto him, Go thy way; thy son liveth. And the man believed the word that Jesus had spoken unto him, and he went his way. And as he was now going down, his servants met him, and told [him], saying, Thy son liveth. Then enquired he of them the hour when he began to amend. And they said unto him, Yesterday at the seventh hour the fever left him. So the father knew that [it was] at the same hour, in the which Jesus said unto him, Thy son liveth: and himself believed, and his whole house. This [is] again the second miracle [that] Jesus did, when he was come out of Judaea into Galilee." (John 4:46-54 KJV)1. The first miracle done by Jesus Christ was when he made water into wine, at the wedding in Cana of Galilee.
2. Jesus Christ had just completed his second miracle by healing the Nobleman's son in Capernaum, when he traveled to Jerusalem for the feast of the Jews.
"After this there was a feast of the Jews; and Jesus went up to Jerusalem." (John 5:1 av)
Feast of the Jews - One of many holy convocations established by the LORD God, and celebrated with feasts in their designated seasons by Jews.3. Jesus went up to Jerusalem for the purpose of attending a feast of the Jews.
"Now there is at Jerusalem by the sheep [market] a pool, which is called in the Hebrew tongue Bethesda, having five porches." (John 5:2 KJV)
The Lion's Gate, leads to the Pool of Bethesda, a possible location for the five porches pool.
4. The Pool of Bethesda was located near a sheep market in Bethesda which is directly north of Jerusalem.
Today, a location is established traditionally as the actual pool with five porches, and is a popular viewing attraction of tourists to the Holy Land. Historically, however, this actual location is not confirmed5. The area surrounding the pool had five porches. These porches were probably like an interior piazza that framed the bathing pool.
In these lay a great multitude of impotent folk, of blind, halt, withered, waiting for the moving of the water. (John 5:3 KJV)6. A great number of impotent, blind, halt, and withered waited upon the porches and watched for the moving of the water in the pool of Bethesda.
Typology of disability in spiritual terms...
Impotent - Feeble and deficient in vigour, authority, force, and
efficiency. They are inadequate and inferior in their spiritual lives.
As we have learned in our other studies,
water is the Will of the LORD GOD given freely to thirsty men and the
influence and Spirit of God operating in man through grace, to regenerate,
strengthen and refresh man’s spiritual (inward) and natural (outward) life
experience. Living water provided by the LORD God is moving, springing, running,
flowing or spraying. The LORD God’s water is always fresh and alive.
"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." (John 5:4 KJV)7. Occasionally, an angel came to the pool of dead water as a messenger to deliver God's Grace.
8. The angel would trouble the water to agitate it and get the water rolling and moving.
9. The Grace of God and healing was given to the first person who stepped into the water after they had been agitated by the angel.
10. Only one person was made whole through the process of washing in the waters after they were agitated.
If one thinks deeply on this process, and factors in the characteristics of the free flowing water of God, then it is easily understood why only one person was healed each time the waters were agitated. It was the leftovers of God's Grace, that had not been eaten by anyone and, and had settled in the water untouched and unused. It was a dead work, on the bottom of the pool, that was stirred up at the moving of the Angel according to the time and Will of God, and brought to life through the moving of the waters. One work of healing, one work of God, left in the midst of the pool of the water, that was activated and made alive according to His Will, so every drop of His Grace could glorify Him and His Works!
"And a certain man was there, which had an infirmity thirty and eight years. 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 5:5-6 KJV)11. Jesus Christ saw a man, who had been sick thirty eight years and lying down upon the porches for a long time.
12. Jesus asked the man "Wilt thou be made whole?"
Important words spoken by Jesus Christ indicate the first requirement for being made whole by the Grace of God. If a person is to be healed, he must first desire that healing. Most importantly, the healing is not just for the physical condition, but also the spiritual infirmities that cripple and weaken the sick. These spiritual infirmities are made whole through the acceptance of the true doctrine spoken by Jesus Christ, allowing the healing of God to proceed. It is when the true doctrine increases belief and adherence to Christ's principles, that the spiritually sick person can be made whole.
“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.” (John 5:7 KJV)13. The impotent man who was not only physically weakened, but also suffered from an inadequate and inferior spiritual life for many years, was unable to walk into the waters on his own. He told Jesus that there was no man to help him to the waters to receive healing, and when he tries on his own, others jump in front of him and step into the water before him.
“Jesus saith unto him, Rise, take up thy bed, and walk. And immediately the man was made whole, and took up his bed, and walked: and on the same day was the sabbath.” (John 5:8-9 KJV)14. Jesus Christ told the man "Rise, take up thy bed, and walk".
The impotent man received healing through the words of Jesus Christ. The Living Water of God, His flowing grace of redemption and restoration, was embodied by the person of His Son, Jesus Christ. Jesus had the authority and the power of his Father to bestow healing and make whole!15. Through Jesus Christ's words, there were three instructions given to the impotent man to receive healing by God...
1) Rise - Wake up and stand up. Don't sit or lie down and wait for your disease to bring you to death through obscurity and inactivity in your natural life. Stand upon your feet like a strong, spiritual man made whole!
2) Take up thy bed - Expiate your sin by making amends. Reject the dirty sin that made you sick and put you into that bed. Extinguish your guilt of sin. Go and sin no more.
3) Walk - Live, Live, Live. You are made whole and alive. Move forward and walk toward your Saviour and your God.
16. Upon hearing the words of Jesus Christ, the man was immediately healed. He was made whole, took up his bed and walked as Jesus Christ had commanded. 17. The third miracle of Jesus Christ, the healing of the impotent man upon the porch at the pool in Bethesda, took place on the Sabbath Day.
““The Jews therefore said unto him that was cured, It is the sabbath day: it is not lawful for thee to carry [thy] bed. He answered them, He that made me whole, the same said unto me, Take up thy bed, and walk. Then asked they him, What man is that which said unto thee, Take up thy bed, and walk? And he that was healed wist not who it was: for Jesus had conveyed himself away, a multitude being in [that] place.” (John 5:10-13 KJV)18. The Jews saw him carrying his bed on the Sabbath Day, and reminded him that it is not lawful according to their interpretation of the laws of God.
The Jews that declared the healing of the impotent man by Jesus Christ on Sabbath, were focused on the letter of the law, rather than the life of the law. The rules that the LORD God gave man, and the traditions developed through the years by the Jews, were made new with the new wine of Jesus Christ. If it were the Jews way, then the impotent man could not reject sin, and have his guilt removed on Sabbath Day. Jesus Christ had the authority of his Father to restore to wellness anyone he chose, anytime he wanted!19. They wanted to know which man had cured the impotent sinner, and had the dared to heal on the holy day of Sabbath. 20. The healed man was unable to point out Jesus Christ because of the multitude of people that had gathered around.
“Afterward Jesus findeth him in the temple, and said unto him, Behold, thou art made whole: sin no more, lest a worse thing come unto thee.” (John 5:14 KJV)21. Afterward, Jesus Christ found the healed man in the Temple, and reminded him that he was made whole, and if he were to sin again, a worst thing would happen.
“The man departed, and told the Jews that it was Jesus, which had made him whole. And therefore did the Jews persecute Jesus, and sought to slay him, because he had done these things on the sabbath day.” (John 5:15-16 KJV)22. The Jews began persecuting Jesus Christ, and sought to kill him, because the healed man identified Jesus Christ as the one who had healed him on the Sabbath Day.
“But Jesus answered them, My Father worketh hitherto, and I work.” (John 5:17 KJV)
If an impotent, blind, halt or withered sinner is to be made whole, he must
come to Jesus Christ and hear his instructions to stand, reject sin, and walk
forward toward the LORD God. When the sinner is made whole, he must not sin
again, or his condition will become worse than the first.
Holy Bible. The King James Study Bible. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, Inc., 1988.
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About the Author
Kathy L. McFarland is a Becker Bible Studies Teacher and Author of Guided Bible Studies for Hungry Christians. She has received her Bachelor of Science degree in Religious Studies from Liberty University, and is currently seeking her Master of Divinity (Professional Ministries Track) degree from Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary & Graduate School. Kathy is a noted expert on Old Testament exegesis, Christian apologetics, and Bible typology and mysteries.