Skip to content


We come today, to the pool of Bethesda. Here we see something that, by today’s standards—western standards at least—seems bizarre. Our story is in John 5:1-9
This pool—the name means House of Loving Kindness—had five porches surrounding it. Daily, hundreds of lame, sick, blind and paralyzed people gathered here hoping for a miracle.
John tells us the people were waiting for an angel to come down and stir up the water. When the water stirred, the first one in the pool won a free trip to physical health.
Some Bibles mark this angel part as a later addition to the text. It all feels a little superstitious doesn’t it?
Was it really an angel? What it one of God’s? Perhaps a demon? Perhaps some strange sort of witchcraft?
But you know what—Jesus didn’t comment on it. So—I’ve already said too much I suppose.
I'm also struck by Jesus's choice to heal one man this day. So often in the gospels we read the story of Jesus healing them all. For instance, the evening after the Sabbath when He healed Peter’s Mother-In-Law. That night He came out after sunset and healed everyone in the city. But not here at the pool of Loving Kindness. At least it’s not recorded. Again—just one of those things to notice.
Jesus approaches one man.
Why this man? Maybe he was wearing his thirty-eight year perfect attendance pin. Maybe he was the sickest, or most hopeless. More likely (and at least this one is scriptural,) He saw His Father healing this man. (See John 5:19 - just down the page.)
Whatever the reason, Jesus approaches this man who has been sick for some thirty-eight years.
Let’s talk about this interchange for a minute.
Jesus asks him a simple and seemingly obvious question.
He said to him, "Do you wish to get well?" - John 5:6
This is a great place to start.
Our churches and gatherings draw a great many folks who never quite get into the water. They sit in church, and sings the songs, but never set their affections on the One Whose name they take. They sit under the sound of good preaching, but the Word of God never finds good soil in their hearts. For these reasons, and other, they bear no fruit.
It’s time to put the question to them, and to ourselves…
Do you wish to get well?
Though to me anyway, the answer seemed obvious—the man actually makes excuses.
The sick man answered Him, "Sir, I have no man to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up, but while I am coming, another steps down before me." - John 5:7
It strikes me that this man’s answer has nothing whatsoever to do with Jesus’ question.
I wonder if he was answering the question he had heard a thousand times before—the question he expected this mild-mannered man to ask. The question his family and friends had asked him over and over. Even his pool-side companions would ask him this question. It was the question he could not face.
“Why do you sit here, day after day?”
But that’s not what Jesus asked.
In our last installment we met a man who asked the wrong question. The Royal Official asked Jesus to come to his son’s bedside.
This time Jesus asks the question and the sick man gives the wrong answer.
But there' some good news here. His non-answer didn't drive Jesus away. Jesus opens the healing door for him, no matter how bad his answer was.
Are you thinking, "Jesus didn’t offer healing, He simply healed the man?"
But did He?
He gave the man an imperative—a command.
Jesus said to him, "Get up, pick up your pallet and walk." - John 5:8
What would have happened if this man gave excuses now? Was he healed and didn’t know it, or did the healing take place as he obeyed the Master’s command?
I think sometimes we consider ourselves people of faith all the while sitting at the side of the pool making excuses. Perhaps, like the man, we believe in healing. We believe God does miracles. We believe God wants to save the lost. We know Jesus mends broken hearts. But we sit and make excuses.
But this pool-sitter obeyed!
He got up and took up his bed and walked, and everything changed.
Thirty-eight years of going through the motions, over in an instant.
It’s time to “Get up” friends. It’s time to receive the life God has for us. It's time to step out of our pool-side life and step into a life in the Spirit. Jesus promised a river of living water flowing through us, and we sit beside stagnant waters making excuses. [Tweet This]
I don’t know what God has planned for you, but I know it’s right on the other side of obedience. Think back to the last thing He spoke into your life.
Now, get up and do it!
Lord, would you bring to our memory that last Word. Would you give us opportunity to obey and step into the life to which You’re calling us? I know You have more for us. Give us the courage to get up and walk!
Hey - thanks for stopping in.
See you again soon.
PS - Get up and walk.


Christ Heals a Man Paralyzed by the Gout. Mark 2:4. Engraving by Bernhard Rode, 1780.

As we ponder this story from the gospels of the four men who brought their paralyzed friend to Jesus, I am energized by what we can see clearly in Mark’s account.

And they came, bringing to Him a paralytic, carried by four men. And being unable to get to Him because of the crowd, they removed the roof above Him; and when they had dug an opening, they let down the pallet on which the paralytic was lying. And Jesus seeing their faith said to the paralytic, “My son, your sins are forgiven. ~ Mark 2:3-5

I really only want to pull two words out today: “their faith.”

Who “their?” you may ask.

As we noticed last week, the house was full of skeptics, and there was only one “who” in the stretcher, so that leaves the deconstruction team on the roof.

Jesus saw the faith, the expectation in these men. That expectation was clearly expressed by the lengths they were willing to go in order to get their friend to Jesus. They were willing to risk some real world trouble, and face some serious consequences in order to get their friend to Jesus.

This is so encouraging to me today.

For one thing, nothing is said about the one in the stretcher. When you have been sick or disabled for decades, it is pretty hard to stir up any expectation. You, as likely as not, will build up barriers against such expectations, and protect yourself against having hope spring only to be dashed once more.

But what I learn here is that we can bring our friends to Jesus.

I don’t want to build some magic doctrine that says everyone we pray for will be saved or healed.

But I will say this. We can bring our friend to Jesus.

We can do it with our words,
we can do it with our prayers,
we can do it with a posse,
you can do it in that chair.

We can bring our friends to Jesus. [Tweet This]

Why not do it right now? There is someone on your heart, someone who needs their sins forgiven, someone who needs their body mended. Perhaps there is a broken relationship the Spirit is highlighting.

Let’s bring our friends to Jesus today.

Ben NelsonThanks for coming by.

See you again soon.


By the way, if you missed the first hand account of this day in Jesus life, you should check out "Arise, Take up your bed and walk"


Christ Heals a Man Paralyzed by the Gout. Mark 2:4. Engraving by Bernhard Rode, 1780.

As we look at the Red Letters today, I want to stick with this story we have been talking about all week. Today I want to observe two interesting facets in Jesus’ healing ministry.

"But in order that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”--then He said to the paralytic--“Rise, take up your bed, and go home.” ~ Matthew 9:6

So, I want to be more like Jesus, in the way I do everything. Don’t you?

Have you ever noticed that Jesus never prayed for the sick? He did not pray and ask God to do something. In fact Jesus tells us specifically how He does what He does.

Most assuredly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He sees the Father do; for whatever He does, the Son also does in like manner.  ~ John 5:19 (NKJV)

So, according to Jesus, rather than pray for God to heal this sick man, Jesus looks at what the Father is doing, and acts as the hands of God on earth to bring about what the Father is doing in heaven.

Don’t get me wrong here, I do think we need to pray, but perhaps the prayer we should be praying is “Lord, help me see what you are doing right here and right now.” [Tweet this] Of course then we might find ourselves making mud out of our spit, or writing in the dirt, or even declaring that someone’s sins are forgiven.

The second observation I want to make is that He often adds a call to action to His ministry.

I know when someone comes to me for prayer, there are times when I ask God to do something in their life, and I walk away hopeful.

Jesus expected and inspected. He ministered in whatever way He saw the Father ministering, and then checked it out with a call to action.

Rise, take up your bed, and go home.

One time in our home group, during a time of prayer we prayed for the shoulder of one of our members. We laid our hands on her, and then we just went on with the meeting. Later that evening she was talking and pointed up in the air for some reason, I don’t remember that part, but what I will never forget is the look on her face when she realized all the pain in her shoulder was gone.

We laughed and rejoiced, but I realized that we should have inspected right away to see what the Lord had done, so we could have given Him the glory due Him sooner.

When you pray for someone to be healed, I encourage you to ask them to do what they could not do before.

There is an account in Jesus ministry where He ministered to a man who was blind, and when He asked Him if He could see, the once blind man said:

I see men, for I am seeing them like trees, walking about. ~ Mark 8:24

Then check out what happens next:

Then again He (Jesus) laid His hands upon his eyes; and he looked intently and was restored, and began to see everything clearly. ~ Mark 8:25

The Son of God, in whom all the fullness of the Godhead dwells, needed to touch this man twice in order to fully heal him.

If He (Jesus) had prayed or ministered once and walked away, the man would have been better off than before, but still impaired. Jesus stuck with Him and saw it through.

So perhaps, though I only promised two observations, we have a bonus observation before us.

Don’t quit!

Let’s recap.

  1.  See what the Father is doing. Let your prayer be, for your own sight, and partnership with the Father’s hand.
  2. Check for results
  3. Don’t just move on, if your first attempt at ministry is unsuccessful or does not bring the results you were looking for.

One last caveat, if in the end your ministry does not change the circumstance, realize there are many factors at play, way more than we can understand. Be sure the person you are praying for has been loved, and is not left feeling condemned or worse off than you found them. Does that make sense?

Ben NelsonHey, thanks for coming by today.

See you again soon.


By the way, if you missed the first hand account of this day in Jesus life, you should check out "Arise, Take up your bed and walk"

Stack of BiblesAfter telling of the healing and deliverance of all the sick in the town of Capernaum, Matthew gives us a tiny little Messianic Bible Study.

He takes the events of the day, and applies them to what we know as Isaiah 53:4.

And when evening had come, they brought to Him many who were demon-possessed; and He cast out the spirits with a word, and healed all who were ill in order that what was spoken through Isaiah the prophet might be fulfilled, saying, “HE HIMSELF TOOK OUR INFIRMITIES, AND CARRIED AWAY OUR DISEASES.” ~ Matthew 8:16-17

Surely our griefs He Himself bore,
And our sorrows He carried;
Yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken,
Smitten of God, and afflicted. ~ Isaiah 53:4

Allow me just a little bit of word study: (feel free to skip this part if you really don’t want the details.)

The Hebrew word that is translated griefs here in the NASB (khol·ē' – pretty much pronounced ‘holy’ only with that gruff throat noise at the beginning) shows up about 24 times in the bible, and 19 times it is translated either sickness or disease. In the lexicon used in the only offering for translation is ‘sickness.’

The Hebrew word that is translated sorrows here in the NASB (mak·ōve' – pronounced like mac, as in Big Mac or mac and cheese, and ov, as in over – only again you need that guttural kind of chuffing on the c in mac) (do you even care?) This one is most often translated sorrows, but all the definitions relate to pain, though this pain can be physical or mental.

Thanks – now back to the post:

What fascinates me, is that, in my evangelical upbringing, I was taught on a regular basis that what Jesus did on the cross, and what was prophesied here by Isaiah was about my spiritual well being.

And yet, when Matthew, the great pointer outer of fulfilled prophecies, points out this one, he is applying it to physical healings and the casting out of demons.

Why make a fuss about this? Well, I have to say that when my understanding of this scripture, and others, turned from a strictly spiritual interpretation, to a ‘whole man,’ spirit soul and body interpretations, my prayers changed, and the results changed.

When I began to believe that the price Jesus paid and the salvation Jesus purchased was for the whole man, was not simply a path to eventual restoration of health and wholeness someday when we die, but could be pursued here and now, it changed my life.

Hey – there is plenty I don’t understand, and many times I see saints suffer and die in sickness and disease, and please hear me, that is not a reflection on them, or on their community of faith. There is so much more to our world than what we currently see or perceive.

I do understand this – everyone they brought to Jesus, was healed. Every account recorded in scripture of people coming to Jesus while he walked the earth ended with a person made whole. [Tweet This] Not every sick person in all of Judea, but at least every sick person in Capernaum.

This story blows my mind. I really want to be like Jesus. Don’t you?

Lord, today I want to be more like You. I want to walk like You walked, and do the works that You did, and the greater works You promised.

Ben NelsonThanks for coming by.

See you again soon.


And when evening had come, they brought to Him many who were demon-possessed; and He cast out the spirits with a word, and healed all who were ill in order that what was spoken through Isaiah the prophet might be fulfilled, saying, “HE HIMSELF TOOK OUR INFIRMITIES, AND CARRIED AWAY OUR DISEASES.” ~ Matthew 8:16-17

Let me recap:

It’s is the Sabbath (we know this from Luke 4.) I said the other day that it was the same day He made His declaration, but I must correct that. This was actually the day He cast out a demon in Church (OK Synagogue.)

He and some of the boys headed over to Peter and Andrew’s house and Jesus healed Peter’s mother-in-law.

Next we see this:

When evening had come

Or as Luke puts it in

While the sun was setting ~ Luke 4:40

The folks in these good Jewish communities waited till the sun was setting, until the Sabbath was over and then they got to Jesus just as quick as they could.

Luke tells us:

all who had any sick with various diseases brought them to Him ~ Luke 4:40

So in the town of Capernaum when Jesus left, if I am doing the math right, there was no one left in the city either sick or demon possessed! They brought them all to Jesus, and He healed them all.

Do you have someone to bring to Jesus today?

Don’t wait for the sun to set – let’s carry them to Jesus now!

Lord, I am so glad that You are the same yesterday, today, and forever. We bring our sick, our broken, our lost to You today, and ask that You touch, You speak the word, You do what You do!

Ben NelsonThanks for coming today.

See you soon


%d bloggers like this: