Desperation: When You’re Not First & You Have No One

Today’s selected reading continues in the New Testament gospel narrative of the life and ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ as it was written and recorded by the apostle John. More specifically today’s passage is found in verses thirty-one through forty-seven of the fifth chapter. “If I bear witness of myself, my witness is not true. There is another that beareth witness of me; and I know that the witness which he witnesseth of me is true. Ye sent unto John, and he bare witness unto the truth. But I receive not testimony from man: but these things I say, that ye might be saved. He was a burning and a shining light: and ye were willing for a season to rejoice in his light. But I have a greater witness than that of John: for the works which the Father hath given me to finish, the same works that I do, bear witness of m e, that the Father hath sent me. And the Father himself, which hath sent me, hath borne witness of me. Ye have neither heard his voice at any time, nor seen his shape. And ye have not his word abiding in you: for whom he hath sent, him ye believe not. Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me. And ye will not come to me, that ye might have life. I receive not honour from men. But I know you, that ye have not the love of God in you. I am come in my Father’s name, and ye receive me not: if another shall come in his own name, him ye will receive. How can ye believe, which receive honour one of another, and seek not the honour that cometh from God only? Do not think that I will accuse you to the Father: there is one that accuseth you, even Moses, in whom ye trust. For had ye believed Moses, ye would have believed me: for he wrote of m e. But if ye believe not his writings, how shall ye believe my words” (John 5:30-47).

 

            “And therefore did the Jews persecute Jesus, and sought to slay him, because had done these things on the sabbath day. But Jesus answered them, My Father worketh hitherto, and I work. Therefore the Jews sought the more to kill him, because he not only had broken the sabbath, but said also that God was his Father, making himself equal with God. Then answered Jesus and said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do: for what things soever he doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise. For the Father loveth the Son, and sheweth him all things that himself doeth: and he will shew him greater works than these, that ye may marvel. For as the Father raiseth up the dead, and quickeneth them; even so the Son quickeneth whom he will. For the Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son: that all men should honour the Son, even as they honour the Father. He that honoureth not the Son honoureth not the Father which hath sent him. Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life. Verily, verily, I say unto you, The hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God: and they that hear shall live. For as the Father hath life in himself; so hath he given to the Son to have life in himself and hath given him authority to execute judgment also, because he is the Son of man. Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice. And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation. I can of mine own self do nothing: as I hear, I judge: and my judgment is just; because I seek not mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent me” (John 5:15-29).

 

            When you come to this particular portion of Scripture you will find the continuation and culmination of the events which took place in the city of Jerusalem as was recorded by the apostle John. In all reality the fifth chapter of the gospel narrative written by the apostle John is quite remarkable and astonishing when you take the time to consider it for it marks what would be the beginning of the opposition against and persecution of Jesus in the midst of Judaea and Jerusalem. If you read the gospel written by the apostle John you will find that much of Jesus’ actions and movements centered around the city of Jerusalem and the Jewish feasts which were celebrated each year. If you turn and direct your attention to the Old Testament books of Leviticus and Deuteronomy you will find there are three distinct feasts which were considered to be pilgrimage feasts—those feasts where the people of Israel would come from all corners of the land unto the place of worship to worship before the LORD. The New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle John has at the very heart and center of it the Jewish feasts which were celebrated by the Jews and how Jesus’ movement between Judaea and Galilee was more often than not governed by those feasts. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this for it helps us to truly understand the gospel itself as well as the Jewish nature—not only of the gospel but also of the Lord Jesus Christ. The more you read this gospel the more you will be brought face to face with the incredible truth surrounding Jesus’ journeys from Galilee unto Jerusalem at the time of feasts knowing the city would be filled with people from throughout Judaea, Galilee and the surrounding regions. Even when we come to the second chapter of the New Testament book of Acts and read of the day of Pentecost we find there were countless men and women from the surrounding nations and regions as was represented in the list of some of the tongues that were spoken by those in the upper room.

 

            The New Testament gospel written by the apostle John is one that is truly astonishing when you take the time to think about and read it for it highlights and underscores the Jewish nature of Jesus and how Jesus not only came unto His own but also how He moved among His own. With the exception of the fourth chapter and Jesus’ entrance into Samaria we find Jesus continually moved among His own people within the land of Judaea and Galilee. Perhaps one of the greatest truths surrounding this gospel is the movement of Jesus within and throughout Judaea and Galilee and how He literally did come unto his own that He might manifest Himself unto them. Within this gospel and the various accounts and narratives presented within it we encounter and come face to face with the tremendous truth surrounding Jesus indeed coming unto His own as the Word made flesh and dwelling among them. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this for it draws and calls our attention to the tremendous truth surrounding the Lord Jesus Christ and His ministry among those within the regions of Judaea and Galilee. Jesus’ first miracle would be performed in Cana of Galilee at a wedding where He turned water into wine and His second miracle would also be performed in Galilee when He spoke the word which healed the nobleman’s son. Before we come to the fifth chapter we find the miracles of Jesus being manifested in Galilee, however, when we come to the fifth chapter we begin reading of miracles which Jesus performed in Judaea—namely, the miracle Jesus performed in the city of Jerusalem at the pool which was known in the Hebrew tongue as Bethesda which was by the Sheep gate. It would be there in this place of five porches and one pool Jesus would show up and bring healing and wholeness into the life of a man who had suffered with and from an infirmity for thirty and eight years.

 

            As I read and consider the words which are found in this passage of Scripture I can’t help but see Jesus’ willingness to enter into those places where others would not think or even desire journey. In the fourth chapter we find Jesus entering into the region of Samaria—a region which no Jew would ever dare enter or pass through. During those days the Jews had no dealings with the Samaritans and yet we find Jesus departing from Judaea to come unto Galilee and needing to pass through Samaria. Not only do we find and read of Jesus passing through Samaria but we actually find Him being wearied from His journey and sitting down by a well around the sixth hour. It would be there at the well Jesus would meet and encounter a woman from the city who would come forth with her waterpot to draw water as she had time and time again. What we find on this particular day, however, is a man who was sitting down at the well—and not only a man sitting down at the well but a Jewish man. What’s more, is that in addition to this being a Jewish man who would sit down at the well in Samaria we find Him speaking unto this woman and asking her to give Him to drink. Oh we must needs recognize and understand this for I am sure that even this Samaritan woman was herself surprised and even shocked that this Jewish man would even be in Samaria and would think to ask her to drink. The simple fact that Jesus was not only willing to pass through Samaria but also sit down at Jacob’s well therein and speak to this woman is something that is truly remarkable and astonishing when you take the time to think about it. Here we have Jesus deliberately and intentionally passing through Samaria on His way to Judaea when others would have simply sought to go around Samaria to make their way to Judaea.

 

            Perhaps one of the greatest truths surrounding the fourth chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle John and Jesus’ entrance into Samaria is that He could have journeyed around it much like most if not all the Jews had done on their way to the same place. I can’t help but think about and consider the fact that there were countless Jews who would make the journey from Judaea to Galilee or from Galilee to Judaea and would not even think to pass through Samaria. Much like the priest and the Levite who passed by on the other side of the road after seeing the man who was lying on the side of that road naked, bleeding, bruised and left for dead so also would many Jews pass by Samaria. The Jews during those days would not and did not have dealings with the Samaritans and even viewed them as being a half-breed and mixed peopled—those people who had mixed themselves with Jewish blood and the nations of the earth. It’s quite interesting however that within the passage itself we find that when Jesus entered into Samaria He came unto the place near the parcel of ground which Jacob had given unto his son Joseph. Not only this but we also find the very well which Jesus sat down upon being Jacob’s well. Both of these statements would intrinsically link Samaria to Judaea, to Galilee and to the Jewish people for the region itself was directly connected to Jacob whose name would later be changed and transformed into Israel. It would be from Israel the twelve tribes of Israel would come forth with ten of his twelve sons making up ten of the tribes and the other two tribes being made up by Joseph’s two sons which were born unto him in the land of Egypt. It is absolutely necessary that we recognize and pay close attention to this as it draws and calls our attention to the intrinsic link and connection that existed between the Jewish heritage and history and the region of Samaria.

 

            I absolutely love the fourth chapter of this New Testament gospel as it paints a powerful picture of Jesus being willing to enter into a region and place that was perhaps steeped and surrounded by contention, strife, tension, division and the like. Whereas the Jews themselves would have avoided Samaria altogether Jesus would be entirely and altogether willing to enter into it that He might keep a divine appointment which was ordained by the eternal Father. There is not a doubt in my mind that this interaction with the woman at the well—and not only with the woman at the well but also with the people of the city of Sychar—was divinely orchestrated and ordained by the eternal Father. I firmly believe that it was the divine will of the Father that Jesus depart from Judaea and make the journey unto Galilee,  however, before He would actually arrive in Galilee He would pass through Samaria. It would be there in Samaria where Jesus would sit down by a well being wearied from His journey and would meet this Samaritan woman who would come forth from the city to draw water. Not only would Jesus ask the Samaritan woman for a drink but He would also continue speaking with her concerning living water—and not merely living water but the living water which He Himself offered and provided to those who would come unto Him. There at the well Jesus would offer unto this woman living water and would essentially speak unto her concerning eternal and everlasting life. What’s more is that it would be there at the well Jesus would speak unto this woman about her past relationships and how she had five husbands and the man she was currently with was not her husband.

 

            If there is one thing I find absolutely astonishing about the fourth chapter of the New Testament gospel written by the apostle John it’s that Jesus was not only willing to enter into Samaria and into that place of divide and tension between the Jews and the Samaritans but He was also willing to entertain and speak with a woman from the city of Sychar. What’s more is that you will find Jesus was more than willing to speak to this woman—not only concerning the living water which He came to offer and provide to those who believed on Him but also of worship. It would be there at the well Jesus would speak unto this woman concerning living water and how anyone who tasted and drank of this living water would never thirst again. What makes this truly captivating is when you consider the fact that this concept of living water was of great interest to this woman as she would ask Jesus to give her of this living water that she might thirst again and might not have to come to this well any more. In light of this concept of living water Jesus would also speak unto this woman of her past relationships as He would speak unto her of the five husbands she had been with and how the man she was currently with was not her husband. I continue to be amazed at the fact that Jesus did not enter into Samaria to condemn, criticize, judge and accuse this woman but rather to offer the living water. Jesus could have asked all sorts of questions concerning this woman’s previous relationships and marriages and yet the truth of the matter is that Jesus merely spoke of her having had five husbands and being with a man who was presently not her husband. It would be Jesus’ words concerning her five husbands and the man she was presently with that would cause this woman to declare unto Him how she perceived Him to be a prophet.

            This encounter between Jesus and the woman at the well would continue with Jesus speaking unto her of worship—and not of worship which took place in Jerusalem at the Temple of the LORD, nor even the worship which the Samaritans themselves engaged in but true worship of the Father which would take place in spirit and in truth. Jesus would go on to speak unto this woman and declare unto her that the hour was coming when those who would worship the Father would not merely worship Him in Jerusalem at the Temple upon the Temple Mount but would worship Him in spirit and in truth. What’s more is that towards the end of the interaction between Jesus and this woman we find her speaking unto Jesus concerning the Messiah and the Christ and how she knew that He was going to come. What makes this so incredibly interesting when you think about and consider it is that when Jesus heard this woman speak unto Him concerning Himself He openly revealed and proclaimed unto her that He which spoke unto her was indeed the Messiah and the Christ. It would be at that moment when the disciples would arrive from the city and the woman would depart from Jesus leaving her waterpot behind as she returned to the city. Having just heard Jesus declare and proclaim unto her that He was the Messiah and the Christ this woman would return to the city where she had come from and immediately declared unto the men of the city concerning one who had told her everything she had ever done. Not only this but this woman would also ask of and present unto the men of the city whether or not this could indeed be the Messiah and the Christ which was to come.

 

            If there is one thing I can’t help but think about and wonder it’s what Jesus would speak those two days talking and speaking about when abiding and dwelling among the Samaritans. We know the men of the city came out to see Jesus based on the testimony and witness of this woman and how upon encountering Him they would entreat Him to abide and tarry with them. Scripture doesn’t indicate how long they desired Jesus to dwell among them but we do know that Jesus did so for two days. I would love to know what Jesus talked and spoke about with the Samaritans after having already spoken unto this woman of living water, and of worship, and even declaring unto her that He was the Messiah and the Christ. Did Jesus demonstrate and manifest Himself as the Messiah there in the city of Sychar? Did Jesus actually enter into this city and openly proclaim Himself to be the Messiah—something He would and could not do in Judaea and Galilee? We know that even after Simon called Peter openly proclaimed that Jesus was the Christ and the Son of the living God in the company of the disciples Jesus would instruct them to tell no man that He was the Christ. Even when the unclean spirits and demons would cry out concerning Jesus and refer to Him as the Son of the most high God He would silence them and would not permit them to speak. There is not a doubt in my mind that what we find and read in the fourth chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle John is Jesus being willing to abide and tarry in Samaria with those of the city of Sychar and I have to believe that He demonstrated and manifested Himself as the Messiah. Oh He might not have performed any miracles among them, however, I get the sense that having already declared and proclaimed unto the woman at the well that He was the Messiah He would have continued demonstrating unto them that He was the Messiah and the Christ. By the time Jesus departed from this city and would make His way unto Galilee the men of the city would proclaim unto the woman how they initially believed in Him because of her word but how they now believed on Him based on His own word and having spent time with Him.

            I am convinced that in order to understand the words and language that is found in the fifth chapter we must needs understand that which is found in the fourth chapter. What we find in the fourth chapter is a powerful picture of the Lord Jesus Christ being willing to enter into those places others wouldn’t even think or desire to enter into. In the fourth chapter of this New Testament gospel we find Jesus entering into Samaria which was a region and place the Jews would neither enter nor even pass through. It would be in the fourth chapter we find Jesus entering into Samaria, sitting down by a well, speaking with and entertaining a woman there at the well, and tarrying and abiding with the Samaritans from the city of Sychar for two full days. When we come to the fifth chapter of this New Testament gospel we find Jesus once more entering into those places where very few Jews would actually think about entering. It would be in the fifth chapter of this New Testament gospel we find Jesus entering into the five porches which were at the pool by the Sheep gate. It would be here within these five porches we find the apostle John writing and recording how a great multitude of impotent folk, of blind, of halt, and of withered who were waiting for the moving of the water. It would be here in these five porches a great multitude of men and women would tarry and abide as they all waited for the same thing—the moving of the water. The apostle John wrote how at a certain time and season an angel would come down and would trouble the waters and whosoever was the first to enter into the waters would be made whole of whatever disease they had. As a direct result of this troubling of the waters there would be many who would lie there in that place—not only waiting for the troubling of the waters but also waiting for their turn.

 

            If there is one thing that makes this narrative of the pool of Bethesda so incredibly intriguing when you think about it it’s that within that place there would be a great expectation and anticipation for the moving of the waters. Those who perhaps lived in that place or those who perhaps entered into that place with their individual sickness, disease and illness would all be waiting for the same thing to take place. With this being said it’s important to note that there is actually something incredibly tragic about this place for not only were those who were present in the midst of it waiting for the troubling of the waters but they were also waiting for their chance and their opportunity to step down into the waters. The apostle John makes it quite clear that whosoever was first to step down into the waters after they were troubled would be healed of whatsoever disease and infirmity they had. That which I find to be incredibly interesting about this passage of Scripture is that this was essentially the breeding ground for disappointment—and not only disappointment but also frustration. While this was indeed a place where healing would take place it would be a place where healing would not take place within the lives of everyone who was present there. As you read the passage of Scripture you will get the sense that everyone there had the same expectation and anticipation and I am sure when the waters themselves were troubled they were all filled with a tremendous sense of excitement as well as a sense of urgency to get down to the waters. Oh I can’t help but wonder what it would have been like for those men and women who were present here to witness someone else step down into the waters before them and watch them get healed while they themselves continued living with their own illness, infirmity, disease, sickness and the like.

 

            When I read the words found in this passage of Scripture I can’t help but be brought face to face with the fact that this place—while it was indeed a place that was undoubtedly filled with anticipation and expectation, and while it was indeed a place where healing took place—was a place of tremendous frustration and disappointment. All those who lie here within these five porches were all waiting for the same external event to take place—namely, the troubling of the waters—and were all hoping for the same outcome. There in that place men and women desired to be healed and made whole of whatever disease and illness they suffered from. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this for it draws and calls our attention to the awesome and powerful truth that here in this place there were a number of men and women who each had their own individual needs within their physical bodies and were hoping to finally have their chance and their opportunity to step down into the waters after they had been troubled. Perhaps one of the greatest truths found in this passage of Scripture is when you consider the fact that all those who were present there were indeed and were in fact waiting for the troubling of the waters and hoping and praying that it would finally be their turn. I read this passage and I can’t help but think about and consider the fact that those who were present here were continually and consistently living with the mindset of “When will it be my turn?” and “Will it finally be my turn?” I can’t help but wonder how many men and women lie in that place where healing would indeed take place and yet not everyone who lie in that place would experience healing. Although that place would indeed be a place of healing not everyone who was present there would indeed experience healing within their physical bodies.

 

            I sit here this morning and read the words found in the fifth chapter of the gospel narrative written by the apostle John and I am drawn to the tremendous truth that here in this particular place healing would in fact occur within the lives of certain men and women who were present there, however, not everyone who was present in that place would be made whole. Scripture speaks of whosoever was first to step into the waters after they were troubled was made whole of whatever illness and infirmity plagued them and I can’t help but wonder if that suggest and speaks of just one individual who was the first to enter into the waters or if it was a collective group of individuals who were perhaps the first ones to step into the waters after they were troubled. Oh I can’t help but wonder what it must have been like for those who were present in this particular place to hear of the waters being troubled and hearing the waters themselves being troubled and having no one who would lead them unto the place of the troubled waters. Imagine lying in that place knowing that it was a place where healing would take place and yet not having anyone who was able and even willing to take and lead you to the waters. Imagine lying in that place hearing the waters being troubled and even seeing the waters being troubled and watching as others would be healed and made whole of whatever infirmity they were plagued with while you yourself continued living with yours. I do not believe for one minute the testimony of this man who suffered from his infirmity for thirty and eight years was exclusive to him alone. We know that this man would declare unto Jesus that he had no one to lead him unto and help him into the waters when they were troubled and I can’t help but get the strong sense that there were others here in these five porches who had the same testimony—the testimony of waiting and hoping, the testimony of having no one, and the testimony of frustration and disappointment.

            TESTIMONIES OF WAITING AND HOPING! TESTIMONIES OF HAVING NO ONE! TESTIMONIES OF FRUSTATION AND DISAPPOINTMENT! TESTIMONIES OF WATCHING OTHERS BE HEALED BEFORE YOU! I read the words which are found in this passage of Scripture and I am brought face to face with the fact that there were perhaps countless men and women who were present in this particular place who had no one who was willing to lead them unto the waters after they had been troubled. I do not believe for a single moment that this man whom Jesus encountered was the only one who suffered from having no one who would take him by the hand or arm and lead him unto the waters once they were troubled. Who knows if this man had spent thirty-eight years abiding and dwelling in one of these five porches and had watched and witnessed as countless others had experienced healing within their own physical bodies. Oh I can’t help but wonder how many times this man watched as others would step down into the waters after they had been troubled and witnessed their being healed and made whole of the illness and infirmity that plagued their physical body. How many times had this man lie there in whichever porch he was present in and not only heard and saw the troubling of the waters but also watched as others would step down into the waters and receive healing within their physical bodies and lives. I would love to know how many times this man suffered from disappointment and frustration in that place as he perhaps not only wondered if and/or when his turn would ever come but also watched as others would be healed. I can’t help but wonder how often this man would watch others be healed of their infirmity and illness and wonder when and if his turn would come and he himself would be healed of his own infirmity—one which he had suffered from for thirty and eight years.

 

            If there is one thing I can’t help but think about when reading the words found in this passage of Scripture it’s that although this place was a place where healing would indeed and would in fact take place it was also a place where healing didn’t take place. As surely and as much as we would like to think that this place was indeed a place where healing took place we must also recognize and understand that it was a place where healing did not take place. The apostle John writes and records how at a certain season an angel would come down and trouble the waters of the pool and whosoever was first to step down into the waters would be made whole of whatsoever infirmity plagued them within their physical bodies. The very text itself seems to suggest that while there were undoubtedly men and women who would receive and experience healing in that place there were others who would not experience healing. The very fact that this man whom Jesus encountered would declare unto Him that he had no man to take and lead him down into the waters when they were troubled suggests that there were others who were present in this place who had no one to lead them to the waters. Oh think of how many blind which were present in this place could only get to the waters if they had the help and assistance of someone else who was willing to take and lead them to the waters. Think about the impotent and those who were crippled and withered who perhaps could not make it unto the waters in their own strength and by themselves who would need the help of someone else to lead them unto the waters. Oh I am absolutely and completely convinced there were a great number of individuals within these porches who would live and dwell in a place of healing and miracles and yet would and perhaps could never experience that healing within their own physical bodies.

 

            I am sitting here this morning thinking about this particular text and how although this was a place where healings and miracles were known to take place it was also a place where healings and miracles did not take place. Scripture is not entirely clear how many men and women would be healed when the waters were stirred and if it was simply one person who was able to enter into the waters and be healed or if it was a group of individuals who were first to step into the waters. Scripture makes it clear that this man suffered from his infirmity for thirty and eight years and I can’t help but wonder how many times this man watched as others would step down into the waters and be healed during that time period. Let’s say the angel came down at a certain season once a year and troubled the water and men and women would step down into those troubled waters and were healed of their infirmities. If the angel came down once a year at a specific season and this man suffered from his infirmity for thirty and eight years then that means there were possibly thirty-eight chances and opportunities this man would have potentially had to make his way down into the waters after they had been troubled. Imagine being this particular man and not only suffer from this infirmity for thirty and eight years but also to witness thirty-eight different times others experience healing within their own physical bodies before him. Imagine living and dwelling in a place of healing and miracles and yet never actually experiencing a miracle within your own life. Imagine living in a place where miracles and healings did in fact occur and yet you never experienced it within your own life. Imagine watching others experience healing and miracles within their own physical bodies and yet having never experienced them within your own life and physical body.

 

            The words which we find in this passage of Scripture are absolutely remarkable and astounding when you take the time to think about them for they bring us face to face with the fact that while it was indeed true this place was a place of healing and miracles it was also a place where healings and miracles didn’t take place. I do not believe this man was the only one with the testimony of not having anyone who would lead him down to the waters when they were troubled. I do not believe for a single moment this man was the only man who spent a considerable amount of time in this place hoping, praying and waiting for his opportunity to be led unto the waters and step into the waters that he might finally be healed of his infirmity. There is not a doubt in my mind there were countless others within those five porches who had no one to lead them unto the waters and help them down into the waters when they were troubled. Stop and think about this for a moment for although you were dwelling and abiding in a place where healings and miracles took place you would never experience healing within your own physical body. Think about what it would have been like for a number of individuals present in this place to know that healing would indeed take place when the waters would be troubled and yet never experience that healing within their own life. Think about what that would and could do to someone’s emotions, thoughts and feelings as they themselves struggled and suffered from an infirmity and yet could never seem to find healing. Oh it was indeed true that they were dwelling and abiding in a place where healings and miracles would take place and yet because they had no one to lead them to the waters they could not experience that healing and miracle within themselves. Not only this but because they were not first to step down into the waters they would not experience healing and wholeness within their physical bodies.

 

            BECAUSE YOU HAD NO ONE! BECAUSE YOU WERE NOT FIRST! Oh we dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this when we read this passage of Scripture as it calls and draws our attention to the tremendous fact that there were countless men and women who would be present in a place where healing and miracles would take place and would even be present in a place when healing and miracles took place and yet because they had no one to lead them to the waters they would and could not experience healing within their own physical bodies. Think about the fact that there were men and women who lived and dwelt in this place and because they were not first to step down into the waters they did not and would not experience healing within their physical bodies. There is something truly interesting when reading this passage of Scripture and how within it we find this particular man who suffered from an infirmity for thirty and eight years having no one to lead him down to the waters. Oh with this being said there is something else we ought to think about when reading this passage of scripture and that’s not only that this man suffered from this infirmity for thirty and eight years. If there is something we must needs think about and consider when reading this passage of Scripture it’s how it is very likely and possible this man had no one to lead him to the waters during that thirty eight year period of time. We don’t know for sure if this was actually the case but for the sake of argument stop and think about what it must have been like for this man to not only suffer from this infirmity for thirty and eight years but also to go that same length of time without having anyone who was willing and able to lead him down to the waters and help him into them. Imagine suffering from an infirmity within your own body for an extended period of time and also during that time you had absolutely no one who was willing to take you by the hand or the arm and lead you to the waters when they were troubled.

 

            The pool of Bethesda was an incredibly interesting place for it was undoubtedly filled with a tremendous amount of discouragement and frustration. Although it was indeed a place filled with anticipation and expectation it was also a place that was filled with disappointment as once the waters stopped moving the chances and opportunities for healing were over. UNTIL THE NEXT TIME! YOU’LL HAVE TO WAIT UNTIL THE NEXT TIME! YOU DID NOT MAKE IT THIS TIME! Oh I can’t help but think about this particular passage and what it was like after the waters stopped moving after having been troubled by the angel. Once those waters stopped moving and stirring it was quite obvious that any chance and any hope of being healed of whatever illness and infirmity plagued your body was gone. Oh I can’t help but think about what that would and could have been like for countless men and women who were present during those days and times and how disappointed, frustrated, and perhaps even angry they would become once the waters had stopped stirring and moving. Not only this but I can’t help but wonder if those who were present in that place and watched as others were healed of the infirmity which plagued their body would and could be happy and rejoice with those who were healed. I would dare say that there was a great struggle which would and could take place within this particular place as those who were present within these porches and watched as others experienced healing before them might have found it incredibly difficult to rejoice and be glad in the healing others received. Oh I would dare say that there were many present there who not only had to wrestle and contend with their own disillusionment, their own despair, their own disappointment and their own frustration but also had to contend with finding it difficult to rejoice with and be glad over others who had received healing within their physical bodies knowing how desperately they desired it within themselves. How many men and women would watch and witness as others would indeed be healed and made whole of whatever infirmity plagued their physical bodies and yet they themselves would not experience such healing within their own physical bodies.

 

            That which is present before us in this passage of Scripture is truly incredible and intriguing when you take the time to consider it for within it we find a powerful picture of those who were present here in this place who would find themselves incredibly disappointed and frustrated when they realized their chance to be healed was gone. There is not a doubt in my mind that there were countless men and women within these porches who were disappointed and frustrated with the fact that they had absolutely no one who would help them to the waters and help them into the waters once they were stirred. I would dare say there were countless men and women who were present in this place who spent a considerable amount of time not only dealing with the infirmity which plagued their physical bodies but also that which plagued their hearts and their souls and their minds. I do not believe the only needs present in this place were physical in nature but were also emotional in nature. I am absolutely convinced that there were those in this place who on top of dealing and struggling with the infirmities within their physical bodies also struggled and wrestled with the emotions, the thoughts and the feelings of perhaps never being able to step down into the waters once they were troubled. I can’t help but think about the fact that there were countless men and women who wrestled and struggled with perhaps having had an opportunity to step down into the waters and yet because they were not first to step down into them would miss out on their opportunity to be healed. In all reality I would dare say there were two different realities many within these porches had to contend with when it came to their desire to be healed—the first being their struggle with not having anyone to lead them to the waters when they were troubled and the second was not being first once the waters were actually troubled.

 

            I read the words found in this passage of Scripture and am brought face to face with the tremendous truth surrounding this place called Bethesda and how while it was most certainly a place where healing and miracles took place it was also a place of tremendous disappointment and frustration. Imagine being in a place where you knew healings and miracles would and could take place and yet never being able to experience them for yourself. Imagine dwelling and abiding in a place where others had received healing within their physical bodies and where others had been made whole and yet you yourself were never able to experience it. What’s more is that imagine if you were in this particular place where others would and could experience healing within their physical bodies and yet you yourself could never seem to find that healing because you had no one to help you to the waters and no one to help you into the waters. Imagine spending week after week, month after month and year after year in this place and watched as others received healing within their physical bodies and yet because you had no one to help you to the place of troubled waters you could not and did not receive healing. What does that do to your heart and your mind and your soul when you are in a place where miracles clearly do happen and yet you are never able to experience it for yourself. There is something truly astonishing when reading this passage and considering the fact that there were countless men and women who were living and abiding in a place where miracles did in fact take place and yet because they had no one to lead them to the actual place where miracles occurred they were left to continue in their infirmity. Not only this but imagine being in a place where miracles did in fact take place and being unable to experience those miracles for yourself because you weren’t first into the waters.

 

            BECAUSE YOU WEREN’T FIRST! BECAUSE YOU WERE ALONE! One of the greatest things that surprises me about this particular passage is how many men and women would have potentially missed out on receiving healing within their own physical bodies and lives simply because they weren’t first when the waters were troubled. Oh although they did in fact live and dwell in a place where healing and miracles did in fact take place they themselves did not experience healing within their lives because they weren’t first when the waters were troubled. Stop and think about that for a moment as it has the ability to paint an incredibly challenging picture—one which I am absolutely convinced is present within our own culture and society today. How many men and women in our culture and society today might very well be in a place where healing and miracles do in fact take place and yet because they are somehow not “first” when the healing and miracles take place they aren’t able to experience it within their lives? How many men and women are actually present in places where miracles do in fact take place and yet despite their being in those places of miracles they find themselves unable to actually experience it because they are behind others who are there as well? I am convinced there are countless men and women who might be present within our churches and houses of worship who might very well witness and behold miracles taking place among them within those places and yet they always seem to find themselves on the outside looking in. These individuals actually enter into places where healing and miracles take place and yet time after time they find themselves in a place of frustration and disappointment as they are on the outside looking in.

 

            I sit here today thinking about the words recorded in this passage and I can’t help but think about how many men and women among us within our generation today find themselves in a place where they witness and behold miracles and healing take place and yet they find themselves on the outside looking in. There are men and women in our culture and society who enter into places where healing and miracles take place and yet they are unable to experience such realities and manifestations within their own hearts and lives. What is truly tragic about the narrative found in the fifth chapter of the gospel written by the apostle John is that this man was present in a place where miracles and healing did in fact take place and yet he always found himself being on the outside looking in. This particular man had an infirmity for thirty and eight years and perhaps spent that time period watching others experience healing in their lives because they were first into the waters and/or because they had someone to help them get to and enter into the waters. I am convinced that there might have been those present in these porches who received healing within their physical bodies because they were able to get themselves to and into the waters when they were stirred. They saw and witnessed the waters when they were being stirred and as a direct result of this they were able to get themselves into the waters that they might receive and experience healing. I do not believe this man was alone in being in a place where miracles took place and in a place where healing took place and being unable to get to the waters in time to be healed. In fact I would dare say that this man—as well as others—found themselves in a place where they were always behind others and too late into the waters. Oh sit and think about what it would and could have been like for such individuals to see the waters stirring and even to hear the sound of the waters being stirred and yet being unable to make it to those waters.

 

            The more I read this particular passage of Scripture the more I can’t help but be absolutely gripped with the fact that Jesus showed up in this place of healing and miracles and offered this man healing without needing to enter into the waters. Although this man was alone within these porches and had no one to help him into the waters Jesus would show up and offer him healing right where he was at. Despite the fact that this man always seemed to be behind others when it came to getting to the waters when they were stirred Jesus would show up there in those porches and would offer this man complete and total healing within his physical body. This is actually quite intriguing when you think about it as I am sure there were those who thought the only way they could experience healing was within those waters when they were stirred. I am sure all those who were present within those five porches spent their days living and looking for the waters to be troubled and seeking their opportunity to step into the waters. What an incredibly tragic place it is to find yourself in the place where healing and miracles take place and occur and thinking and feeling that is the only way and the only place you can experience healing within your physical body. I am sure there were countless men and women present within those porches who thought and felt within their hearts and souls that this was the only place they could experience healing and miracles and never even thought there would or even could be one who provided healing right where they were. Jesus showed up in this man’s life after suffering from this infirmity for thirty and eight years and after countless times of watching others as they entered into the waters and received healing and miracles within their own lives. Jesus showed up in this man’s life right where he was at despite the fact that he had absolutely no one to help him down into the waters when they were troubled.

 

            Oh there is something truly powerful about Jesus showing up at the pool of Bethesda on this particular day for Jesus would show up in this man’s life after suffering from an infirmity for thirty and eight years. Jesus would show up in this man’s life after he had witnessed countless people get ahead of him or cut in front of him as they made their mad dash to enter into the waters. I can’t help but think about the fact that there might have even been times when this man was pushed aside or even cast to the ground by others who were seeking to experience healing and miracles within their own lives. Were there times when this man was finally able to make his way to the waters and yet he experienced someone else cutting in front of him and/or even casting him to the ground as they desired to be first to enter into the waters. What we find within this passage of Scripture is a clear contrast between the first being last and the last being first as the apostle John would in fact write how whosoever was first to enter into the waters when they were troubled would be healed of whatever infirmity plagued their bodies. Although this man had perhaps been last numerous times before on his way to the waters he would find himself not only being first but also being entirely and altogether separate in this place. Jesus would indeed show up in this place after thirty-eight years of suffering with this infirmity and would not only ask him if he would be made whole but would also command him to rise, to take up his mat and to walk. There in whichever porch this man was present in he would experience healing in his physical body and for the first time in thirty-eight years would be completely whole. What a truly incredible thing it is to consider how this man had been in this condition for almost four decades and on this day when Jesus showed up he would finally experience what others had experienced in the waters.

 

            I absolutely love reading this particular portion of Scripture for while there might very well have been others who were healed as a result of entering into the waters this man would be healed apart from the waters and without anyone coming alongside him to help him to those waters. There is something truly remarkable about this passage of Scripture when you read how when this man was asked if he wished to be made whole he responded by not only referencing that he had no one to help him to the waters but he also spoke of someone else entering into the waters before him. When Jesus asked him if he wished to be made whole this man would not only speak of the waters when they were stirred but he would also speak of those before and around him who would enter into the waters before he himself would. If there is one thing I so absolutely love about this passage it’s that Jesus not only showed up in the life of this man but also healed him without having to step into the waters, without having to be first into the waters and without anyone needing to help him into the waters. Jesus showed up in this man’s life asking him a question to which there was a very obvious answer and this man responded by acknowledging his not having anyone to help him into the waters and how the closer he got to the waters someone else would always step in before him. Essentially that which this man was speaking and providing unto Jesus was a powerful commentary of his own frustration, his own disillusionment and his own discouragement as time and time again he had seen others experience healing in their physical bodies while he himself continued to be on the outside looking in. That would all change on this particular day as Jesus would show up in this man’s life and offer him unconditional healing without any strings attached and without any action needed on his part other than rising up, taking his met and walking.

 

            If there is one thing we must needs recognize when reading this passage of Scripture it’s that Jesus showed up here within these porches surrounding the pool and offered this mean healing apart from the waters. When Jesus showed up He first spoke to and addressed this man’s frustration, this man’s despair, this man’s discouragement, and perhaps the sorrow within his heart as he had no one to help him to the waters and how someone else would always seem to enter into the waters before him. Once Jesus had addressed these very real emotions, thoughts and feelings within the heart and soul of this man He could then do in his life that which He desired and intended. It would be after Jesus heard this man speak of having no one to put him into the pool—essentially signifying and suggesting that he was alone—and after hearing how others seemed to always step into the waters before and ahead of him that Jesus would command and instruct him to rise from his place, to take up his bed, and to walk. It would be there in that moment this man would receive strength within his physical body as not only would the infirmity be completely healed and removed from him but he would also be able to walk. Oh imagine what it would and could have been like for this man as he not only stood—perhaps for the first time in almost four decades—but also as he took up the mat upon which he had been lying upon for that period of time. Imagine being this man and for the first time in almost four decades being able to rise to his feet and actually walk—and not only walk but pick up and carry that which he had previously been confined to. How incredibly joyful this man must have been once he realized he had been healed and had in fact been made whole within his physical body after encountering Jesus there at the pool of Bethesda.

 

            FROM THE PORCH TO THE TEMPLE! As you continue reading this passage you will find that after this man had received healing and wholeness within his physical body he departed from the pool of Bethesda carrying the mat which he had been previously lying upon. Scripture is unclear whether or not anyone who saw him carrying his mat was aware of who he was or even that he had perhaps spent nearly four decades in the porches at the pool of Bethesda. Those who saw this man did not see the infirmity that he had just been delivered from nor did they see the almost forty years of despair, sorrow, discouragement, frustration, anger, and the like he had been suffering from within his heart and soul. It’s quite interesting that the only thing men and women saw when looking at this man was the mat he was carrying. The question I can’t help but ask is whether or not anyone even stopped to think to themselves why this man would be carrying a mat—particularly and especially on the sabbath day. When those present during this time period and on this sabbath saw this man carrying his mat did they stop to ask what had happened that had prompted him to carry it on what was considered a sacred day. How incredibly interesting it is to consider the fact that this man had just been healed after almost forty years of suffering with an infirmity within his body and the only thing people could see in him was his carrying the mat on the sabbath.  This man had just been healed of an infirmity he struggled with for almost four decades and the very same day he was healed he had to contend with the Jews being angry with him for allegedly violating the sabbath. Stop and consider the fact that in those days it was possible to be healed after almost four decades of struggling with an infirmity and the very same day be accused of violating the sabbath.

 

            Perhaps one of the questions I can’t help but think about when reading the words found in this passage is why this man departed from the porches and pool and went unto the Temple. Did this man begin walking through the streets of Jerusalem and come upon the Temple and decide to enter into its courts? Did this man perhaps have a longing within his heart while he was dwelling at the porches round about the pool of Bethesda to enter into the courts of the Temple to worship the LORD his God? It is absolutely remarkable to consider how this man had perhaps spent nearly forty years struggling with an infirmity and not only when he is healed does he go to the Temple but also once he was healed he would be accused of breaking the sabbath. Take a moment to think about what it would have been like for this man to not only have been healed by Jesus after experiencing almost forty years of an infirmity and immediately having to contend with being accused of violating and breaking the sabbath. We must not miss and lose sight of this as it forces us into a place where we understand the possibility men and women face to be healed and made whole within their physical bodies and yet those who encounter them after the healing can’t and don’t see the healing nor even what they have been healed from and only see their alleged sin and wrongdoing. So long as this man remained bound by this infirmity and so long as this man was confined to his mat he would never have been accused or condemned by the Jews for carrying his mat on the sabbath and yet once this man was healed he would immediately find himself being the target of the Jews’ accusation. The Jews would witness this man carrying his mat on the sabbath, would declare unto him that it was not lawful to carry his mat on the sabbath, and when he told them how the man who commanded him to take up his bed and walk they asked him who it was that did in fact make him whole.

 

            Upon continuing to read this passage you will find that when the Jews found this man they declared unto him that it was not lawful for him to carry his mat on the sabbath day and yet when Jesus found him He declared that he was made whole and then commanded him to sin no more lest a worse thing come upon him. What so amazes me about this passage of Scripture is not only that Jesus found this man in one of the porches at the pool of Bethesda but also that Jesus found him in the Temple. Scripture is unclear as to what prompted this man to venture into the Temple, however we do know and understand that it was there in the Temple where Jesus found him again. Jesus would first find this man in the place of healing and miracles and yet not experiencing anything within his own life until Jesus showed up and Jesus would find him a second time in the Temple and in the place of worship. It would be in the place of healing and miracles Jesus would find this man and offer healing unto him and it would be in the place of worship Jesus would again find him and not only declare that he had been made whole but would also command him to sin no more lest something worse came upon him. How absolutely incredible it is that Jesus found this man after almost four decades suffering from an infirmity and wrestling with the discouragement, sorrow, frustration, and perhaps even the anger that was associated with it and He would also find him in the Temple. What’s more is that not only would He find him in the Temple but He would find him after the Jews spoke unto him concerning carrying his mat on the sabbath day. It would be there in the Temple this man would encounter Jesus for the second time as the first time he encountered him he was not aware that it was Jesus who made him whole. What an incredible thought it is to consider this man was not even aware that it was Jesus who made him whole at the pool of Bethesda and it wouldn’t be until Jesus found him in the Temple that he would recognize and understand that it was Jesus who had made him whole.

 

            As I bring this writing to a close it’s absolutely incredible to think about the fact that Jesus showed up in the place where healing and miracles did in fact take place and yet not everyone who was there experienced such healing and miracles. This man suffered from an infirmity for thirty and eight years and not only had no one to help him into the waters but was also continually passed by others who would step down into the waters. It is absolutely incredible to consider the fact that Jesus would show up in this place where healing and miracles would take place and where they had taken place and would offer healing unto this man—not only after thirty eight years of suffering with an infirmity but also without having to enter into the waters as everyone else did. This man would suffer from this infirmity for thirty and eight years and would continually watch as others were healed before him and might very well have thought to himself that someone else got his opportunity to be healed. ON this particular day, however, Jesus would show up separate and apart from the waters and would offer healing without needing to go down unto the waters and without even needing to step into the waters. How absolutely incredible it is to think about and consider the fact that the Lord Jesus Christ was willing to show up in this man’s life after almost four decades of suffering from this infirmity and offered him unconditional healing and wholeness without and apart from needing to step into the waters. Not only this but Jesus also found this same man in the Temple—perhaps worshipping since he was unable to do it before—and not only confirmed that He had been made whole but also commanded him to sin no more lest something worse come upon him.

 

It is absolutely incredible to read the words found in this passage of Scripture for within it we find a Jesus who is willing to show up in the midst of discouragement, disillusionment, frustration, disappointment, and perhaps even anger within this man’s heart and offered him healing and wholeness. What’s more is that Jesus would show up and offer this man healing within this physical body without and apart from needing to enter into the waters as others had done. This man had suffered from an infirmity for almost forty years and found himself in the presence of Jesus who offered him healing and wholeness. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this truth as it reveals the awesome reality that Jesus can indeed and can in fact offer healing and wholeness right where we are without condition and without requirement. Jesus is more than willing to show up where we are despite our not having gone unto “the waters” others have gone to, and despite our not being able have others who are able to “get us to the waters” or “get us into the waters.” It is absolutely incredible to read the words found in this passage of Scripture and encounter a Jesus who is willing to enter into those places where we are the most desperate and perhaps even the most vulnerable and not only expose what’s in our hearts and souls but also provide healing to our physical bodies. Oh that we would be a people who worship such a Jesus within our hearts and our spirits without hesitation and without reservation. Oh that we would be a people who are able to freely worship a Jesus who is able to show up right where we are and offer healing, wholeness, freedom, deliverance and victory—even if we might feel entirely and altogether alone because we have no one who is able to help us in our place of desperation. Oh that we would be a people who recognize and understand that there is indeed a Jesus who is willing to show up even when we have no one to lead us to the proverbial “waters” which others have themselves entered into and even when others might very well experience healing, wholeness, deliverance, freedom, victory and the like within their lives while we ourselves are still waiting for it in ours.

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