A Pool-Side Miracle

Bible Book: John  5 : 1-14
Subject: Trusting God; Healing; Help, God our; Need, Admitting Our
Series: That's A Good Question

John 5:1-9, 14

Without a doubt, the star of the Olympics in Beijing was the 23 year-old swimming phenom, Michael Phelps, the apparent son of Aquaman. Phelps has a total of 16 Olympic medals, 14 of which are gold, 8 of those being won this summer, setting a new record for a single Olympics.

Along with being naturally gifted, Phelps’ training regimen is astounding, practicing 11 to 12 times a week, swimming about 50 miles a day.[i] When he is training, Phelps seems to spend more time in the pool than he does on his feet.

In John chapter five, we are introduced to a man who spent a lot of time by the pool, though he was not physically able to get into the pool. We aren’t given his name, and John simply calls him “the impotent man”. His days were spent lying by the Pool of Bethesda, wishing that by some miracle his body could be healed and his life could be changed.

The impotent man had believed that his miracle would take place in the pool. However, when Jesus came to where he was, a pool-side miracle occurred, and the man was healed without even getting wet.

This story reminds us that Jesus has the ability to meet us at the point of our need, and overcome that which is overcoming us. Before the Lord intervened for this man, He asked him an interesting question. In verse six, Jesus said, “Wilt thou be made whole?”

This is a good question for each of us today? Do you want to be whole? We all have things in our lives that hinder us and keep us from the life God wants us to live. Are you willing to let the Lord Jesus to deal with those things, and enable you to be the person God intended for you to be? The story of this pool-side miracle reminds us that Christ is willing to do just that.

I want us to follow our Lord in this story, and watch Him as He changes the life of this man. There are three things we observe about Him in this text. Notice first of all:


The opening verse of John chapter five says that, “Jesus went up to Jerusalem.” In the next two verses we are told specifically where the Lord went in the great city.

You can learn a lot about Jesus by simply studying the places He went. He went to the well in Samaria to witness to a lost woman. He went to Zacchaeus’ house to change a crooked man. He went into the Temple to run out those that were abusing God’s house. He went to the tomb of Lazarus to raise the dead.

In our text, as well, we learn about the character of Christ by observing where He went. Notice first of all, Jesus went:

A. To the hurting people

The setting of this particular story is a place called the Pool of Bethesda. It was probably a pool that had been constructed around a natural spring. For some reason, either superstition or otherwise, the pool was thought to have some sort of miraculous healing properties. For that reason, John describes how people with different sicknesses and diseases had crowded around that pool, hoping to get into it at just the right time.

Verse three says, “In these lay a great multitude of impotent folk, of blind, halt, withered, waiting for the moving of the water.”

When Jesus came into Jerusalem, He did not first go to the Temple where He could rub elbows with the Jewish leaders. He didn’t go to Herod’s palace so that He could meet the king. Nor did He go to the Roman governor’s house in order to “get in good” with the local politicians and power players. No, when Jesus came into the city, He went to the place where the hurting people had assembled. He went to those whose lives were difficult and whose hearts were broken.

We should not be surprised by this. In Luke 19:10, Jesus said, “For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.” In Matthew 9:12, He had said to the Pharisees, “They that be whole need not a physician, but they that are sick.”

Contrary to what many believe, the Lord Jesus is not looking for perfect people. He is seeking for those who are hurting.

Notice not only that Jesus went to the hurting people, but notice also that He went:

B. To the helpless people

Look in the text, and notice again verse three. John describes the crowd gathered around the pool as being “impotent folk”. The word translated “impotent” literally means “without strength”. It describes someone who is powerless.

The Lord Jesus came to minister to those who could not help themselves. He came to those who were powerless against their disability and disease. By the way, in case you don’t realize it, that is you and that is me. We may not be physically handicapped and helpless, but that is certainly a good description of our spiritual condition. In fact, the same word that is translated “impotent” in John 5:3, is found again later in Romans 5:6. There it says, “For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.”

As sinners, we cannot get to God. We are crippled and hampered by our sin nature. Yet, when God invaded history in the person of Jesus Christ, He came to us when we could not come to Him.

One day he will surely be the king of England. His father, Prince Charles, is next in line for the throne, but the young Prince William is all but certain to take over the crown some time in the future. Until he becomes king, William has decided what he wants to do. William is currently training to be a search and rescue pilot for the Royal Air Force. The prince and heir to the throne will begin working full time in search and rescue after Christmas.

2,000 years ago, the Son of God and the King of kings came to this earth on a search and rescue mission. He went to those who could not come to Him. He went to those who were hurting and helpless.

Notice something else we observe about our Lord in this passage. Notice not only where Jesus went, but notice also secondly:


Look back at the text, and let’s pick up the story in verse 5. There it says, “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?”

Among the sick and lame bodies littering the pool side, one man in particular caught the Lord’s eye. Looking at him, Jesus knew the long and painful story that had been this man’s life.

Jesus knew everything, and yet He wondered about something regarding this man. He asked him the question, “Wilt thou be made whole?” Literally, the question is, “Do you want to be well?”

At first glance this seems like a stupid question. What sick person doesn’t want to be well? However, as we meditate on this question, we realize this is actually a very good question.

Notice a couple of things Jesus wondered about this man. Notice first of all, Jesus wondered:

A. Was he ready for a change?

Though it would seem obvious that this man would be eager to be healed, in reality, not everyone is ready for a change. Some, after years of battling their condition will give up, and will grow accustomed to their handicaps and hindrances. After thirty-eight years, it could be that this man no longer wanted to be made well. It could be that he was not ready for a change. Unfortunately, Christ cannot help everybody. That is because not everybody is ready for the change Christ will bring.

Some people are comfortable with their hang-ups and hardships. They wear them like badges and lean on them like crutches. What about you? Do you want to be made whole? Do you want your marriage to be better? Do you want to overcome your doubts and worries? Do you want Christ to break that addiction in your life, or are you comfortable with your condition?

Several years ago I heard a pastor tell of a series of messages he preached in his church entitled, “Ten people you cannot help.” One of the people he said you cannot help being was the person that doesn’t want your help.

Jesus will not force Himself or His help on anyone. If you are not ready to change, He will not help you. Jesus wondered if this man was ready for a change. Notice also, Jesus wondered:

B. Would he respond to a command?

Look back at the text and notice the man’s response in verse 7. It says, “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.”

Look at verse 8. It says, “Jesus saith unto him, Rise, take up thy bed, and walk.” Jesus commanded the man to do what he had been unable to do for 38 years.

When Jesus asked the man, “Wilt thou be made whole”, He was not only questioning the man’s readiness to change, but his willingness to comply as well.

Would this man obey the Lord’s command for his life? Jesus wondered about this man’s faith as well as his will. What about you? Are you willing to obey Christ’s command in order to be made whole? Will you do what He tells you to in order to be able to overcome what is holding you back?

A doctor says to a patient, “Here is a prescription for a medication that will completely cure your disease.” Though that patient has a cure, they will only get better if they do what their doctor tells him.

Some will never be whole, and never experience a healthy Christian life because they will not obey the commands of Christ.

Jesus wondered, “Wilt thou be made whole?” His question was a challenge to the man by the pool and to us as well.

There is one more thing I want us to observe about our Lord in this text. Notice not only where Jesus went, and what Jesus wondered, but notice also finally:


Look again at our text, and notice verse 9. It says, “And immediately the man was made whole, and took up his bed, and walked: and on the same day was the sabbath.”

Jesus came to this helpless man. He asked the man a question that awakened his faith, and then he performed a miracle, healing the man’s body.

Before we leave this story, I want us to consider why Jesus healed this man. Why does the Lord work in the lives of people? Why does seek to make men whole? If He were to help you today, for what reason would he do it?

I believe our text shines some light on why our Lord works in our lives. Notice first of all, Jesus works:

A. So that we will praise God

Drop down in our text and notice verse 14. There it says, “Afterward Jesus findeth him in the temple…” The man had been spending his days lying by the pool, hoping for a miracle.

Now, he has left the side of the pool, and has made his way into the Temple. Can you understand why the man would want to go to the Temple?

Clearly, the man wanted to give God thanks, and glorify Him for the miracle that had occurred in his life. Christ had healed him, and he wanted to give praise to God.

If the Lord Jesus does something in your life, and works a miracle on your behalf, He does so in order that you might give praise to God, and glorify Him with your life.

When is the last time you thanked God for what He has done for you? Have you ever given God praise for His work in your life? Could it be that you haven’t been made whole yet because you aren’t willing to go to God’s house and worship Him for what He’s already done?

The Duke of Wellington, the man that defeated Napoleon at Waterloo, was a hard, demanding, and difficult commander. He was not the kind of leader to compliment the men who fought under him. However, at the end of his life, Wellington was asked if there was anything he would do differently. Wellington thought for a moment, and said, “I’d give more praise.”

I believe that many of God’s people would see Him work more in their lives, and do more for them, were they willing to give more praise.

The Lord Jesus works in our lives, not only so that we will praise God, but notice further that He works:

B. So that we will practice godliness

Once Jesus found this man in the Temple, notice in verse 14 the instructions He gave. Jesus said, “Behold, thou art made whole: sin no more, lest a worse thing come unto thee.”

Jesus healed this man to change not just his physical life, but his spiritual life as well. He worked in Him so that he might begin to live for God.

Could it be that one of the reasons Christ has yet to work in your life is that you are not willing to repent of your sins and begin to practice godliness in your daily life?

Too many Christians today want a Christianity that demands nothing from them, and allows them to live in any manner they please. The Lord Jesus does not work in our lives just so that we will continue in the path we have been traveling. He works in us to change the practice of our lives.

The old, fiery evangelist from western North Carolina, Vance Havner, once said, “God saved us to make us holy, not happy. Some experiences may not contribute to our happiness, but all can be made to contribute to our holiness.”[ii]

Has the work of the Lord in your life produced in you the practice of godliness? If it has not, perhaps that is why He hasn’t done anything else in your life.

Jesus met this man at the point of his need. That happened to be beside a pool.

If Jesus could make a man whole beside a pool, is it not completely possible that He could do the same for you right here in His house among His people?

Through His Spirit, Christ is here, and He is willing to help those who are willing to be made whole. If you will trust Him and obey Him, He can change your crippled life.

What is it you need Him to do for you? If He does it, are you willing to give God praise, and live for Him? If so, you could be made whole today.


[1] When Does Michael Phelps Practice?, WikiAnswers, 11/7/08, http://wiki.answers.com/Q/When_does_Michael_Phelps_practice

[1] Havner, Vance, The Vance Havner Quote Book, (Baker Book House, Grand Rapids, 1986), p. 110