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(The healing at the pool of Bethesda-John 5:1-9)

A sermon preached this Lord’s Day 21st January 2018, at the Gospel Missions Agency Church Pulpit in Mumias Kenya, by Pastor Elly Achok Olare


We must not think that Jesus performed the miracles he did, primarily to make people happier. There is no doubt there is a real sense in which the savior had compassion for the suffering of men. However He know the root cause of their suffering and that they could all be could be summarized with a 3 letter word-SIN. This is why speaking of His imminent birth the Angel says to Mary “you shall call His name Jesus, for He shall save His people from their sins”-Matthew 1:21.Therefore we must deduce this as a statement of both His life and Mission “to save His people from their sins”. With that appreciation we come to see and interpret all his doings and sayings-they relate to his core mission and mandate “to save his people from their sins”

                                 I NEED A SAVIOR-IAM A PRISONER IN MY OWN BODY

Dead in sins and trespasses-Ephesians 2:1-5

It is a tragic situation the impotent man finds himself in. By His own confession he can’t get to the healing place by his own strength. He has tried 38 times in 38 years, with heartbreaking results. It must be so for all men trying to be saved by own effort. How many times could he have made resolutions to do better, try harder?

In all probability the man’s condition is close to, or is in fact a condition which medical science calls ‘cerebral palsy’. A neurological disorder which in lay man’s terms causes a dysfunction in body coordination. The link between the brain and the rest of the body is severed such that the man ‘knows’ what he wants, but he cannot get his own body to execute those desired functions. Simply put; the man hosts a mutiny within his own system. He is altogether a slave within himself. This is how all men descended from Adam come into this world, slaves of sin, own sinful nature, darkened in the mind, unable to please God. All men are born invalids-impotent. There are many who seek to overcome their own depravity by resolutions and self-will. I have met men so inextricably tethered to their sexual sins, I have seen some of these men and women in Church, often convicted and when the Gospel is being preached their sin is magnified in their own eyes. Oh! How at that very Instance they would wish they were better! Alas! They are prisoners of their own sinful natures. The good they would want to do, that they cannot find and the bad they would wish to avoid, they find present with them. Paul in Romans 7:24 identifies with this situation in a sense when in desperation he cries “Oh! Wretched man that Iam, who will deliver me from this body of death?”

Deliverance cannot come from you or by your own efforts

The Holy Spirit in writing this story was careful to describe this place with keen detail (Please see verse 1). We are given the name of this place as Jerusalem, not Samaria or Jericho but Jerusalem, the favored city, the blessed city of David. Further we are told that the pool was named BETHESDA or BETHZATHA (Hebrew for ‘House of mercy’ or ‘House of Grace’).

What are we to learn from these details?

Firstly; that a mere presence or even participation in the favored place, proximity or even belonging to the ‘house of mercy’ does not guarantee healing from this terrible disease. It is not by being in Church, or born in a believing family that secures the miracle of salvation. There are so many who are deluded by proximity and even participation in church matters that they have secured deliverance for their souls.

Secondly; we are also told of how long he had been here-38 years. Had it been Patience, perseverance and how long one has been around religious things which secures salvation, this man would have been healed by now- but you see friends it is none of these things. You cannot vaunt your religious background, family or even how long you have been in Church-none of these things matter one bit.

Then we are told there were appointed special times when the Angel disturbed the waters. In those special times one could be saved. How often the Spirit has disturbed the Waters thorough the convicting power of the Gospel? How many times did we hear the clear message of Christ, of our sin and the need for true genuine repentance? How often have we been cut to the heart? Yet for some reason were prevented from turning to Christ in faith? It may very well be that even right now the waters are being disturbed…

But we know why he couldn’t get into the healing pool- He had this debilitating affliction he could not will himself into the healing pool, someone had to help him.

Jesus would sum up this man’s situation like this “no man can come to me unless the father who sent me draws him”-John 6:44.Earlier he had said to Nicodemus “unless a man be born again he cannot seen the kingdom of God”-John 3:3.


We were told at the beginning of the story that this was the day of the feast of the Jews. This is the Pascal feast, the day when they recalled the great deliverance of God which secured their release from Egyptian captivity (Exodus 12). God saves in the appointed day of salvation. His operation is not planned by man but Himself. Jesus said it is like the wind you don’t know where it comes from or where it goes, so are those who are born of the Spirit (John 3:7-8).

We are told Jesus saw him and “knew he had been here for 38years“. The savior saw him, knew him. The savior had watched all his efforts at self-help to come to naught. He had to be brought to the end of himself. Jesus sees all our efforts at saving ourselves and will let you come to the frustrated end of yourself. The Savior sees it all.

Despite knowing that He will save him, the savior still asks the impotent man “do you want to get well?”. You cannot will yourself into salvation but there is a sense in which you must want to be healed, to be made whole-you must want it. You could have made a false peace with your religious situation, you may have settled into a false assurance of salvation… But the Savior wants you to call on his help…to say “wash me savior or I die”.

When the moment came to save, it was not by acrobatics, theatrics or side shows. It was not by techniques that the Savior saves the man. He did not lead him through four spiritual laws or asked the man to take a first step. The Savior did not lead our friend in a ‘sinner’s prayer’. He simply spoke His word to the man and that word came with power to break him lose from the prison of his own self and body. So also when Christ saves us, he does so by speaking his word. The Savior calls his people powerfully out of their morass. He uses His word (Psalm 107:20, James 1:18, 1 Peter 1:23, John 5:24-25). Friend’s there can be no salvation by any other means but hearing the master say ” rise take up your bed and go “.It is not by a dream, not by soulful music, not by art and craft of the preacher, but by His word.

With God all things are possible

  • Could it be that you have sought spiritual awakening for very long and still feel you haven’t found it?
  • You could be struggling with some aspect of your life, a secret sin, a life not aligned to the will of God, and you know that despite your best intentions, you still offend God and live away from His will
  • You may have been in Church for a short time or a very long period of time, yet know in your heart of hearts that you are still impotent, the power of God has not broken your spiritual impotence

I pray you hear the voice of the Shepherd calling today, I hope this day your spiritual impotence is healed and you are set free to serve your Lord and master faithfully. I hope this day, that mutiny that has rendered you a contradiction of terms ends and you rise and follow the savior in true salvation. Like the impotent man, it does not matter that you have been in Church all this time, it may not matter that you have missed His promptings before today, when the waters were disturbed. This day can be different if you will hear the master calling you through the word and power of the Gospel we preach. Today if you hear His voice do not harden your heart. He is calling even as we speak, reach out in faith to the hand he stretches out for you. It shall come to pass, says scripture that whoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.

May the Lord bless His word to the salvation of our souls. Amen


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