In Galatians 1:6-8, Paul says to the Galatians, “I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed”
If an angel showed up this morning and stood before you, and it said something contrary to scripture, would you believe it? If it said, “I am the angel Moroni, everything you have been taught about the Bible is wrong. It is an untrustworthy book with lots of errors. I’ll show you a different book. It is without error and it therefore better than the Bible” would you just listen to it and follow it?
How about a man? If a man in a fancy robe spoke with flowery words, and sprinkled it with some Latin even, and if he told you to follow his words and forget about what you know about the Bible, would you trust him?
See, some trust their religious beliefs (yes, even Baptists!), some trust their superstitious beliefs,…and some trust the Word of God (without necessarily seeing the supernatural). Which do you trust? If you say the Bible, I will have to challenge you. Really? Where is the proof? Do you do what the Bible says to do, or do you do what everyone else tells you to do? What about the popular songs and television shows? Do you do what they tell you to do? What about your traditions and the culture around you? Do you do what it tells you to do?
In our text, we meet a man who is 38 years old and has had an “infirmity” his whole life, meaning that he had some sort of sickness or disease that prevented him from being able to do anything. He was weak and unable to get around by himself. Jesus spots him out of the crowd of people who had been gathered at this pool. It is a very strange thing what happened at this pool, and the Bible gives us very little information about it. Let’s discuss a few things about it briefly:
1. It was right outside the Temple in Jerusalem. This would have been a common place for the crippled, Jews and Gentiles alike, to gather in order to ask for alms.
2. It was by the sheep “Market” (1828 Webster’s – A public place in a city or town, where provisions or cattle are exposed to sale; appointed place). Most commentaries say it should be “sheep gate.” In fact, most modern translations word it that way. There is proof that there was a sheep “gate” leading into the Temple where people would bring their sheep to the priests in order to sacrifice it in accordance to the law. However, we also know that sheep, and oxen, and doves (for poorer people) were also sold right at the temple (John 2:13-16), so there is no reason to believe the King James translators were wrong in calling the area a “market,” and we appreciate their honesty in leaving the word “market” in italics to show that it is their interpolation, in order to give understanding to the Greek word that isn’t used anywhere else but obviously has to do with sheep. It seems less honest to just insert the word “gate” as modern translations have done, assuming that to be correct just because we know there was a “sheep gate” at the temple. I’ll stick with the King James version and just suppose there was a sheep “market” in the area of the pool.
3. This pool mysteriously moved and was said to heal the diseases of the first person that entered the pool when it began to move. There are at least three possibilities for this mystery.
-It really happened, an angel did come down and stir the waters, and the first person in the water was healed (That this would have been happening without Christ being the cause and without it pointing men to Him, seems very unlikely to me).
-It was an "old wives' tale" and didn't actually happen the way people said it did (perhaps the water did move and even contained some natural healing properties, but it wasn't the work of an angel and it didn't actually heal only the first person who entered the water), or...
-It was a scam. It makes perfect sense to me that, in an area (market) where corrupt Jews tried to profit off of the poor and needy who would do anything to be healed and forgiven, they might make up a story and trick people into giving all they had in an attempt to be healed (like modern "faith healing" ministries).
Then Jesus shows up!
One must wonder who in Jerusalem hadn't heard about Jesus yet? And if anyone just listened to His words, why did so many not accept that He was the Christ? Se we are shocked when we read that Jesus offers healing and the impotent man says "But I have no man to put me into the water." We wonder why he didn't get it?
Later, when the man is healed and the Pharisees criticize Jesus for healing on the Sabbath, we ask "Why can't they understand that He is Lord of the Sabbath?" Why can't the people see that this Miracle Worker is the Messiah?
But let's be honest. Today, we have God's complete, inspired, infallible Word. We read about the works of Christ and the moving of the Spirit in the New Testament church. In our lives as Christians, we have seen the working of the Lord. We have seen other lives changed and people comforted in time of trouble. We have seen God provide the miraculous (in His way and in His timing). Yet when trials come, we set the Bible aside and turn to worldly wisdom for our answers. When we have fear, we put our hope in false religion and superstition instead of trusting God's Holy Word.
All seven miracles recorded in John have spiritual meanings. Unfortunately, the people didn't seem to get it. In fact, John even says that it was only after Jesus rose and they were given the Spirit that they remembered these things and understood them. If you are saved, you have the Spirit in you. Surely you realize that this is more than a story to show Jesus had power over sickness.
This miracle is to show that Jesus is, and forever will be, Lord! Forget your "Jewish feast," Jesus is here! Forget the temple, the sheep sacrifices...forget the pool of Bethesda. Jesus is here! Forget your Sabbaths, forget your religions and superstitions. Jesus is here! Trust Him and believe His Word, and you will find what you need!