John 5:1
Some time later there was a feast of the Jews, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem.
Marks of Love to GodGrenville KleiserJohn 5:1
Sunday After EasterMartin LutherJohn 5:1
The Help of the HelplessB. Thomas John 5:1-9
A Hospital SermonG. Minkle.John 5:1-18
A Singular But Needful QuestionC. H. Spurgeon.John 5:1-18
A Warning to the RestoredH. Harris, B. D.John 5:1-18
An Old Jerusalem InfirmaryT. Whitelaw, D. D.John 5:1-18
Apostasy DangerousE. Foster.John 5:1-18
BethesdaT. D. Gregg, D. D.John 5:1-18
BethesdaG. J. Brown, M. A.John 5:1-18
BethesdaJ. Parker, D. D.John 5:1-18
BethesdaJ. Sherman.John 5:1-18
BethesdaF. Godet, D. D., Tholuck.John 5:1-18
Christian Fear of Relapse into SinPlain Sermons by Contributors to, Tracts for the Times. "John 5:1-18
Christ's Method of Salvation VariedJ. Trapp.John 5:1-18
Confession of ChristJ. W. Burn.John 5:1-18
Conversion as Illustrated by the MiracleC. S. Robinson, D. D.John 5:1-18
Faith and WorksH. C. Trumbull, D. D.John 5:1-18
God's Pool and Man's PorchesA. G. Brown.John 5:1-18
God's SabbathBengel., Theophylact.John 5:1-18
God's Work is PerfectR. W. Hamilton, D. D.John 5:1-18
He that Made Me WholeE. Mellor, D. D.John 5:1-18
Help Must be OpportuneDr. Talmage.John 5:1-18
HelpfulnessW. J. Acomb.John 5:1-18
Hindrances to Christian DevelopmentH. W. Beecher.John 5:1-18
In the TempleBp. Wordsworth.John 5:1-18
Irresolution and Impotence the Worst Part of Any MaladyJ. P. Lange, D. D.John 5:1-18
Jesus At BethesdaD. J. Burrell, D. D.John 5:1-18
Jesus At BethesdaC. H. Spurgeon.John 5:1-18
Jesus Had Conveyed Himself AwayBp. Wordsworth.John 5:1-18
Jesus Went Up to JerusalemHeubner.John 5:1-18
Jewish Legends About Healing WatersJohn 5:1-18
My Father Worketh HithertoE. E. Jenkins, LL. D.John 5:1-18
Penalty of ApostasyE. Foster.John 5:1-18
PerseveranceH. W. Beecher.John 5:1-18
Reasons for RisingW. H. Van Doren, D. D.John 5:1-18
RetributionAbp. Trench.John 5:1-18
Royal WorkersRollins', History.John 5:1-18
Sabbath WorkC. H. Spurgeon.John 5:1-18
Scripture a Record of Human SorrowJ. H. Newman, D. D.John 5:1-18
Sin and JudgmentJohn 5:1-18
Sin and SufferingProf. Charlton.John 5:1-18
Supplementary MinistriesW. J. Acomb.John 5:1-18
Tendencies of SocietyH. W. Van Doren, D. D.John 5:1-18
Textual CriticismArchbishop Trench.John 5:1-18
The Arrest of a (So-Called) Sabbath-BreakerT. Whitelaw, D. D.John 5:1-18
The BedS. S. TimesJohn 5:1-18
The Best WorkersR. Newton, D. D.John 5:1-18
The Conjoint Working of Christ with the FatherH. Melvill, B. D.John 5:1-18
The Cure of Spiritual DiseaseW. Jay.John 5:1-18
The Divine WorkersJohn 5:1-18
The Divinity of ChristW. H. Van Doren, D. D.John 5:1-18
The Fickleness of PopularityJ. A. Froude.John 5:1-18
The Force of the QuestionF. Godet, D. D.John 5:1-18
The Good Physician's QuestionT. Whitelaw, D. D.John 5:1-18
The Gospel Equal to the Most Inveterate CasesJ. Sherman.John 5:1-18
The Highest Authority Must be ObeyedJohn 5:1-18
The Hospital of Waiters Visited by the GospelC. H. Spurgeon.John 5:1-18
The House of MercyH. J. W. Buxton, M. A.John 5:1-18
The Malignity of the QuestionersAbp. Trench.John 5:1-18
The Miracle At BethesdaC. Hodge, D. D.John 5:1-18
The Other SideBp. Wordsworth.John 5:1-18
The Pardon of SinJ. Vaughan, M. A.John 5:1-18
The Physician's InquiryPreacher's AnalystJohn 5:1-18
The Pool of BethesdaJ. P. Lange, D. D.John 5:1-18
The Pool of BethesdaW. H. Van Doren, D. D.John 5:1-18
The Pool of BethesdaH. Melvill, B. D.John 5:1-18
The Rising LifeJ. Vaughan, M. A.John 5:1-18
The SabbathC. Hodge, D. D.John 5:1-18
The Significance of the Angel's ActionF. D. Maurice, D. D., Bp. Wordsworth.John 5:1-18
The Significance of the Man's ActR. Besser, D. D.John 5:1-18
The Sins of Summer Watering-PlacesT. De Witt Talmage, D. D.John 5:1-18
The Third Miracle in John's GospelA. Maclaren, D. D.John 5:1-18
The Troubling of the WaterH. Melvill, B. D.John 5:1-18
The Universal Cry of HumanityVan Doren.John 5:1-18
The Value of Help to Seeking SoulsJ. Bunyan.John 5:1-18
The Water Supply of JerusalemRecovery Jerusalem.John 5:1-18
The Work of Grace the Warrant for ObedienceC. H. Spurgeon.John 5:1-18
The Working of God in the Medicinal Spring an Emblem of the Saving Work of God in GeneralJ. P. Lange, D. D.John 5:1-18
Thoughts for the BusyW. Manning.John 5:1-18
Waiting in Mercy's HouseT. Champness.John 5:1-18
When Men are Willing to be Saved We Must Help ThemJ. B. Gough.John 5:1-18
Willing ObedienceC. H. Spurgeon.John 5:1-18
Wilt Thou be Made WholeI. B.C. Murphy, B. A.John 5:1-18
Wilt Thou be Made WholeArchbishop Trench.John 5:1-18
Winter WorshipJ. Martineau, D. D.John 5:1-18
Work and JoyC. H. Spurgeon.John 5:1-18
Work Must be ConstantC. H. Spurgeon.John 5:1-18

Here we have -

I. JESUS ATTRACTED BY MISERY. Why was Jesus found at Bethesda? Because there were such misery and need. He was ever found where he was most wanted, and where he might do most good. He was not found in places of luxury, but in the haunts of misery.

1. The misery was great. There was presented to the eye of Jesus there such pain, degradation, poverty, and misery, physical, mental, and moral, as could scarcely be described, and all presented to him together in one scene.

2. The misery was various. It was not confined to one disease, but embraced many classes - "the impotent, the halt," etc. The diseases were various in their kind and history, but all baneful branches from the common stem of physical and moral disorder.

3. The misery was distributed among a great number. There was a multitude. The porches were full, and doubtless many could not be admitted for want of room. Physical suffering is the heritage of the human family, and the special heritage of some. It is a mercy that suffering is distributed. We only know of One who could and did bear all in himself "the Man of sorrows," etc.

4. All were waiting and struggling for the same blessing, viz. restoration to health. With what anxiety they would watch the moving of the waters, and what efforts they made to have the first bath! To this place Jesus was attracted. Being the incarnation of mercy, he was attracted by misery. The whole scene was such as would naturally excite his compassion, and stood forth as a picture to him of a more terrible and universal malady, that of sin, which he came to take away.

II. JESUS SPECIALLY ATTRACTED BY THE MOST MISERABLE. They were all miserable enough, but there was a certain man standing alone in misery and helplessness.

1. He was impotent, perhaps paralytic, thoroughly helpless, and unable to plunge into the healing pool, and had no one to help him in.

2. He had been a long time in this condition. Thirty-eight years. The best part of his life was spent in pain and misery. He had only just sufficient life left to feel his pain and woe.

3. He was almost in the grip of utter despair. Impotent in mind and will as well as in body. He had been there for years, and doubtless was the sport of the more fortunate, and the prey of despair. Still he mechanically crawled there day after day, with an occasional glimmer of hope that some good chance would turn up. And it turned up at last. Jesus, the Son of God, was there, and this poor man became the chief object of his pity. He doubtless pitied the multitude, but the most miserable riveted his compassion. The most helpless and miserable became the most fortunate.


1. A wonderful question. "Wilt thou," etc.? We see:

(1) The importance of the consent of the will in physical as well as spiritual recovery. Christ did not choose to help people against their will. The consent of the will is essential to the efficacy of even Divine influences, especially in spiritual restoration. It is the first step towards it.

(2) Christ was anxiously willing to help every one who had the wish for it, and even more, he was anxious to create and encourage the will so as to be able to lay hold on the help. In consequence of long and repeated failures to get relief, even the will for it now in this poor cripple seemed to be weak; but Jesus fans the smouldering embers with the question, "Wilt thou," etc.? This is a vivid picture in the physical domain of the indifference and apathy of men with regard to spiritual recovery. But this is an exceptional picture, for as a rule men are intensely anxious for health of body. Look at the multitude at Bethesda; what struggle they make to be the first in the moved water! But in a lamentable contrast to this is the conduct of men with regard to the water of life; they seem to struggle to be the last there. The appeal is made by the physician to the sick, and not as usual by the sick to the physician. God in grace first prayed to man, and thus teaches man to pray to him, and create in him an interest in his own welfare. "Wilt thou," etc.?

(3) The question brings from the man a sad tale. A tale of human helplessness on the one hand, and of human selfishness on the other. The "will" was not entirely gone, but it was very weak through his own helplessness and the stolid selfishness of others. "Sir, I have no man," etc. "Every one for himself" was the rule then. A picture of life. "The survival of the fittest" seems to be the law of nature under sin; but there is a law of grace by which the seemingly unfittest may survive, and its question is, "Wilt thou," etc.? There is a gracious power on which the weakest may lay hold.

2. A wonderful command. "Rise," etc. In this command we distinctly hear:

(1) The voice of Divine power. "Rise." This he was utterly unable to do. "Take up thy bed." As well tell the bed to take him up. Every human power had failed even at earlier stages of the disease. And human power never speaks thus under such circumstances but in madness. But is natural in the Divine.

(2) The voice of Divine authority. Divine power and authority go together. There is here a Divine will, and a Divine right and power for its immediate execution. There is no hesitancy, no timidity, but full and serene Divine consciousness of power to carry out his will, and make the man whole.

(3) The voice of Divine mercy. Power alone, or swayed by justice, could kill and perform any miraculous feat of destruction, as in the case of Lot's wife; but infinite power, under the guidance of mercy, heals and saves, and that most completely. "Whole." Amidst the thunders of power and the majestic lightnings of authority we hear the genial voice of mercy answering its own question, "Wilt thou?" etc., by the command, "Rise," etc.

3. A wonderful effect. "Immediately the man was made whole." Consequent upon the command an effort was made; strength came with the effort. The effect was instantaneous; the miracle was complete and thorough. The man rose and walked away; a wonder to ethers, not less to himself, and an unmistakable monument of Divine power as well as Divine mercy.


1. Jesus selected his own object. The most helpless and miserable. This was a most gracious act to the man himself. And this most helpless and furthest from the reach of human aid, answered well the purposes of Jesus in revealing himself as the Son of God. Among the suffering throng there was not one who answered this purpose so well. The greatest misery attracts most of the relieving compassion of Jesus, and when relieved will redound most to his glory.

2. Jesus often helps in a manner and degree which we should not expect. This poor cripple never expected more than to he helped to the pool; but Christ made him whole by his mere word and will. "He is able to do exceeding abundantly," etc.

3. What Christ did physically to this man, he is ready and willing to do spiritually to the human race. The human family by sin are spiritually impotent and helpless. Christ, in the gospel of his love and power, asks the question to each, "Wilt thou," etc.? If they are willing, he is willing and able.

4. There is much suffering in the world, but there is mercy here as well. The world is a Bethesda, the house of mercy; Jesus has made it so. Every healing spring in nature, as well as the river of life, is from him. - B.T.

After this there was a feast of the Jews.
The miraculous aid is —

I. ENIGMATICAL: An angel troubling the water.

II. OCCASIONAL: At a certain season.

III. EXTREMELY LIMITED: To the one who steps in first.


(J. P. Lange, D. D.)


1. The saving operation of the Father in the kingdom of nature.

2. That of the Son in the kingdom of grace.


1. Christ's miraculous healing and raising of dead in general.

2. The spiritual awakening and the organic unfolding of salvation in the New Testament dispensation.

3. The finished work of salvation in the general resurrection.

(J. P. Lange, D. D.)

Outside Jerusalem there was a watering-place, the popular resort for invalids. At a certain season an angel troubled the water. That angel has his counterpart in the angel of healing, that in our day steps into the mineral springs or into the salt sea, where multitudes who are worn out with commercial or professional anxieties, as well as these who are affected with disease, go and are cured. These Bethesda's are scattered all up and down our country, thank God. Let not the merchant begrudge the employs, or the patient the physician, or the Church its pastor, a season of inoccupation. But I have to declare the truth that our fashionable watering-places are the temporal and eternal destruction of thousands.

I. The first temptation that hovers in this direction is TO LEAVE YOUR PIETY AT HOME. Elders and deacons and ministers, who are entirely consistent at, home sometimes when the Sabbath dawns, take it all to themselves. On the other days the air is bewitched with the world, the flesh, and the devil, and the toughest thing is to keep religion.

II. Another temptation is the HORSE RACING BUSINESS. I never knew a man who could give himself to the pleasures of the turf and not be battered in morals. And the betting, drunkenness, and financial ruin associated with it everywhere cluster round it under a pleasant pseudonym at the watering-place.

III. The temptation to SACRIFICE PHYSICAL STRENGTH. Instead of recuperating their health many lose it. Families accustomed to retire early gossip until one or two in the morning, and dyspeptics take strange liberties with viands they would be afraid to touch at home.

IV. THE FORMATION OF HASTY AND UNDESIRABLE ALLIANCES. Watering-places are responsible for more of the domestic infelicities of this country than all other things combined. You might as well go among the gaily-painted yachts of a summer regatta to find war vessels, as to go among the light spray of the summer watering-place to find character that can stand the test of the great struggle of human life. Ah! in the battle of life you want a stronger weapon than a lace fan or a croquet mallet! The load of life is so heavy that in order to draw it you want a team stronger than one made up of a masculine grasshopper and a feminine butterfly.

V. The temptation to BANEFUL LITERATURE. There is more pestiferous waste read by the intelligent classes in July and August than in the other ten months of the year. Men and women, who at home would not be satisfied with a book that was not really sensible, read those which ought to make them blush. "Oh, you must have intellectual recreation." Yes, there is no need to take books on metaphysics. But you might as well say, "I propose now to give a little rest to my digestive organs, and instead of eating heavy meat and vegetables, I will, for a little while, take lighter food — a little strychnine and a few grains of ratsbane." Literary poison in August is as bad as literary poison in December.

VI. The temptation to INTOXICATING BEVERAGE. The watering-place is full of this temptation; after the bath, the game, the dinner, in the morning and at night the custom is to tipple.


1. The grace of God is the only safe shelter.

2. There are spiritual watering-places accessible to all.

(T. De Witt Talmage, D. D.)

Bethesda means house of mercy, and we have such a House and such a pool in the Church of God and the water of salvation. The pool was a crowded spot, and the poor crippled man had been all these years without finding a place in it.


1. For little children.

2. For young men and maidens.

3. For the old.

II. God's House is the best place for all who HAVE SINNED AND REPENTED. Very often people who have gone wrong cease to come to Church. They feel unfit. But let them repent and come home like the prodigal. Then they will find pardon and peace.

III. God's House is the best place for those WHO CAME TO JESUS, BUT HAVE GONE BACK AGAIN. Can that companion of drunkards and bad women be the same who used to say, "Our Father" with innocent lips, and was ashamed to tell a lie? Are you happier for going back from Jesus? Well, there is room for even you in the House of Mercy, and cleansing for you in the Blood of Jesus.


1. Some of us are paralyzed by sin, evil habits, worldliness.

2. Some are dumb who babble in the world but never speak to God.

3. Some are deaf who hear the offers of the market, yet cannot hear the offers of God.

4. Here in God's House of mercy there is a hospital for all manner of disease.

(H. J. W. Buxton, M. A.)

1. Who wonders that a place which had such a history as that described in this chapter should be called mercy's house? We should not have been surprised if we had heard of it as being near the Temple; but, as if God would teach us that His mercy is to be got wherever sought, the house of mercy is close by the place where money is made.

2. How came the five porches to be built? Had some of those which had found health built them for the comfort of seekers for mercy, and thus shown their appreciation of what they had received? Let those who find grace to help in the means provided see that others have the chance of getting the same privileges. Let us write on the walls of these porches —

I. IT IS NEVER TOO LATE TO MEND. It is evident this man thought so. Thirty-eight years hoping for a cure. How often he had been disappointed! One can see him as he smiles a sickly smile, and whispers, "Better luck next time." Some need to be encouraged to hope that it is not too late to be cured of the malady which threatens their soul. Do Dot despair. Satan could not wish for anything better than that your hopes should die, and your prayers cease.

II. On the second porch, write, WAITING ON THE LORD IS TRUE WISDOM. If you don't wish to grow worse, keep in mercy's house. Do not be persuaded to give up going to Church. How pleased the enemy of your soul would be if he could but persuade you to spend the whole of your life away from God. "Faith cometh by hearing." Some convinced of sin, never able to rejoice in God our Saviour, are tempted to give up. People might have said to this man, "Why keep going to the pool?" "If I die without salvation, I will die at the feet of the Saviour."

III. On the third porch, write, CHRIST IS THE SHORT WAY TO COMFORT. The pool was called the house of mercy, but Christ was mercy itself. All mere human instrumentalities are to Jesus what the house is to the Master. We have an indication of Christ's plan of saving men. The poor man did not ask Jesus to heal him. It was mercy who took the initiative. Christ gave a command as well as asked a question. "Take up thy bed and walk." This was something that was a physical impossibility; yet the man made the effort, and was helped of God, and so was made whole. Jesus says to you, who are willing to be saved, "Believe on Me." Why say you cannot believe? God's commandments are promises. He never commands what He will not help us to do.

IV. In the next of the porches we will write up, THE NEWLY SAVED MAY EXPECT A CHECK. The man was met as he was going down the street by those who objected to his carrying his bed. Do not be surprised if some one tries to rob you of your new-found joy. Let not any one stop you from joy in the Lord, it is your strength.

V. There is yet one porch on which we will write, SIN WILL HURT YOU MORE THAN DISEASE. "Sin no more, lest a worse thing come unto thee."

(T. Champness.)

What a scene of misery Bethesda must have presented.

I. THE BIBLE IS FULL OF SUCH DESCRIPTIONS OF HUMAN MISERY. It begins with the history of the curse, and ends with predictions of judgments.

II. And, further, IT SEEMS TO DROP WHAT MIGHT BE SAID IN FAVOUR OF THIS LIFE, and enlarges on the unpleasant side of it. Little does it say on the pleasures of life. But then human tales and poems make things better than they are. Scripture tells the truth, "Man is born to trouble."

III. THIS VIEW IS THE ULTIMATE AND TRUE VIEW OF HUMAN LIFE, AND A VIEW WHICH IT CONCERNS US MUCH TO KNOW, else we shall he obliged to learn it by sad experience; whereas if we are forewarned we shall unlearn false notions of its excellence and be saved from disappointment, and learn to bear a sober and calm heart under a smiling cheerful countenance.

IV. CONSIDER WHAT IS THE CONSEQUENCE OF IGNORANCE OR DISTRUST OF GOD'S WANING VOICE. For a while all will be enjoyment: health is good, spirit high, troubles easily mastered; but as years roll on it is discovered that substantial good is wanting. Then a man will get restless and discontented, for he does not know how to amuse himself. He has made no effort to change his heart, strengthen his faith, or subdue his passions. Now their day is come, and they begin to domineer. He had no habitual thought of God in the former time, and now he dreads Him. Where shall he look for succour? To those around him he is a burden. And so he will lie year after year by Bethesda no one helping him, and unable from long habits of sin to advance towards a cure.

V. THERE IS A MORE SOLEMN CONSIDERATION STILL — THAT TAUGHT BY LAZARUS AND DIVES. Suppose the world to remain a faithful friend till the last, its vanity will be disclosed after death. These disclosures of Scripture, then, are intended to save us pain by preventing the unreserved enjoyment of the world. Let this not seem to make life melancholy. The true Christian rejoices in those earthly things which give joy, but in such a way as not to care for them when they go.

VI. OUR SAVIOUR GIVES US A PATTERN WHICH WE ARE BOUND TO FOLLOW. True, such self-command composure and inward faith are not to be learned in a day; if they were why should this life be given us? It is given us as a preparation time for obtaining them. Its sights and sorrows are to calm you, and its pleasant sights to try you. Learn to be as the angel who could descend among the miseries of Bethesda without losing his purity or happiness. Gain healing from troubled waters. Be light-hearted and contented because you are a member of Christ's pilgrim Church.

(J. H. Newman, D. D.)

I. THE HOSPITAL (vers. 2, 3).

1. Its site. Where God has a temple His worshippers should found a hospital (Isaiah 57:7; Matthew 25:35-40).

2. Its form. It was not the five porches of man's construction, but the water of God's providing that healed; but the former enabled patients to take advantage of the latter. In nature and grace man is permitted to be God's fellow-worker (Deuteronomy 8:3, 18; Psalm 23:1; Psalm 67:6; Hosea 2:21; 2 Corinthians 11:1; Philippians 2:13), but in both He is "Jehovah Rophi" (Exodus 15:26; Deuteronomy 32:39; Psalm 103:3).

3. Its name: House of Grace, than which none could be more appropriate for an institution whose origin was love and whose end was healing, and to which Christ came.

4. Its inmates: specimens of the poor creatures who still crowd the world's infirmaries, and emblems of spiritual invalids.

II. THE PATIENT (ver. 5).

1. A great sufferer for half a lifetime.

2. A friendless outcast, touching the lowest deep of human wretchedness (Psalm 142:4). Many such in the lazar house of humanity.

3. A disappointed seeker. One wonders that his heart was not broken by his endless disappointments (Proverbs 13:12; Proverbs 18:14). But "hope springs eternal in the human breast" (Romans 8:24). What a comfort there are no such disappointed seekers after spiritual health (Isaiah 45:19; Matthew 7:7, 8; Zechariah 13:1; Titus 3:5).


1. His quick observation. Christ's people should cultivate the "seeing eye," for there is no lack of opportunities (Ecclesiastes 9:10; Hebrews 13:6).

2. His perfect diagnosis. Christ apprehends both the man and his malady in every instance (Psalm 7:9; Psalm 119:168; Psalm 139:1-4; Proverbs 15:11; John 1:48; John 2:24, 25; John 4:29; Revelation 2:23).

3. His tender compassion, implied if not expressed. He distinguished between the sinner and his sin (ver. 14). So in imitation of Matthew 5:45 Christian philanthropy should embrace the criminal classes within its care (Galatians 6:10).

4. His hopeful inquiry.

5. His extraordinary prescription equivalent to Ephesians 5:14; Mark 1:15. Christian duty transcends natural ability, but what Christ commands He is willing to supply (John 1:12).


1. Instantaneous, like all His cures physical and spiritual.

2. Complete.

(T. Whitelaw, D. D.)

I. Christ always honoured the religious observances of his day. He shows us —

1. The advantage of church institutions.

2. The relative value of religious ritual.

3. The duty of public worship.

II. NEAR THE TEMPLE WAS A HOSPITAL. The connection between the Church and benevolent institutions (and between the philanthropist and the Christian) is vital. Show one and you will find —

1. That Christian love has started it.

2. That Christian liberality has supported it.

3. That Christian charity has been its daily guardian.

III. WHAT HAVE THE SYSTEMS OF INFIDELITY DONE FOR THE POOR AND SICK OF OUR LAND? Did Voltaire ever endow an almshouse? What have Tom Paine, Rousseau, Hume, Gibbon, etc., done for the amelioration of the race? What building stands to commemorate the sympathy, heroism, and liberality of the secularism of our day? It was the Christian in Howard that made him a religious reformer; in Wilberforce that made him a slave emancipator; that inspired Florence Nightingale, etc. The Church is the poor man's refuge; the Bible the sorrowing man's hope; Christ the world's great need; heaven the weary man's rest.

(G. Minkle.)


1. In Jerusalem, typical of the Church into which you have been introduced by baptism.

2. The pool itself is emblematical of that "Fountain opened in the house of David," etc. It is full, not of water, but of Spirit, and His baptism is life to the soul and healing and power to its injured and enfeebled faculties.

3. The five porches set forth the five springs in the Rock of Ages, hands, feet, side, each yielding its separate stream of blessing.


1. Representatives of the unconverted citizens of the Spiritual Jerusalem.(1) The blind, unable to discern the right hand from the left, nay, incapable of seeing any hand to the soul at all.(2) The halt, divested of faculty for every motion.(3) The withered, incompetent "as paralytics are" to move the limbs or organs of the soul. Why, if the powers of the congregation were suddenly let loose, the results would arouse the whole world: there would not be a house in the district, however poor and sinful; however rich and worldly, that would not be beset, as it were, by a host of inspired apostles. Attempt to move men in their ordinary state to Sunday-school teaching, missionary exertion, or hearty contribution towards religious objects: some will say, We cannot see the matter as you do; others will say, We approve of the object, but cannot move in it; we are bound by such special bonds that we cannot stir in the case, or if we went and followed your advice, we should be helpless as the dead. What is this but being blind, halt, withered?

2. Take the case of an actual believer. He may feel himself providentially impeded; his way may be hidden, his powers confined, fast bound with bonds invisible. The thought of what a neighbour, or a newspaper, or an enemy, or a dignitary may say, ties him as within gates of brass. He would speak, but invisible ligatures fasten his tongue. He will say, "For that I should have a higher position, a larger fortune, more vigorous powers." Well, this may be true; yet an energetic grasp of the Hand that moves the universe might remove all these restrictions.


1. The day: the Sabbath. The pool is always troubled, but the Lord's day is the day for finding it out. Abolish Sunday and not only would the pool he neglected, but it would become dry.

2. The place: God's House, not exclusively of course, for it is everywhere accessible But hers are unusual facilities.

3. The troublers: God's ministers as His agents.

(1)By prayer.

(2)By preaching.

(3)By sacraments.

(T. D. Gregg, D. D.)

I. How eager were these folk to be cured! Would that there were the same earnestness for the healing of the soul.

II. GOD CAUSED THE TROUBLING OF THE WATERS, BUT LEFT THE SICK TO GET THEMSELVES IN. As Matthew Henry says, "God has put virtue into Scripture and ordinances, and if we do not make a due improvement of them, it is our own fault.

III. THIS MAN'S INFIRMITY WAS OF THIRTY-EIGHT YEARS' STANDING; SHALL WE COMPLAIN OF ONE WEARISOME NIGHT. We should visit hospitals sometimes that we may learn to be thankful for our own blessings and to pity the sufferings of others.

IV. HE SEEMS TO HAVE HAD NO FRIEND. Some day troubles may come upon us which no earthly friend can alleviate or understand. But Jesus knows, He can sympathize and heal.


(G. J. Brown, M. A.)

The porches were once places of luxurious indulgence for the rich. In the process of time they became hospitals for the poor.

I. THE WORLD'S PAIN IS SCATTERED OVER A VAST SURFACE, BUT THERE ARE GATHERING PLACES, FOCUSSES OF SUFFERING. It will do us good to go into the back street or infirmary where it hides itself.


1. Sorrow has always been in a majority.

2. The great multitude represented a great variety of diseases. There are some thousands to which the human frame is subject. Think of a thousand ways of taking a man to pieces; of God having a thousand scourges by which He can lay His hand of punishment and trial on the sinner. I can run away from fire and water; but who can escape God?

3. The man who is, popularly speaking, in the robustest health to-day may be smitten before the setting of the sun with a fatal disease. In the midst of life we are in death. Therefore, "Whatsoever thy hand," etc.

4. All the people were waiting. We are all doing the same. "Man never is, but always to be blest." There are two methods of waiting.(1) The method which means patience, hope, assurance that God will in His own time redeem His promises;(2)the method of impatience and distrust and complaining that wears the soul out.

III. EVERY LIFE HAS SOME OPPORTUNITY GIVEN IT. "There is a tide in the affairs of man," etc. Every one has bad a door opened. The angel is present to-day.

1. You may heal the disease of selfishness by timely generosity.

2. You may heal the disease of indolence by Christian work.

IV. TROUBLED WATERS ARE OFTEN HEALING WATERS. Not the little puddles you make with your own foot; but the troubles that God makes by His angels and a thousand ministries by which He interposes. You may take hold of trouble by the wrong end and abuse it, or you may make it a place for thought and vow.

V. IN ALL CLASSES THERE IS A SPECIAL MAN. I am groaning over something I have had for ten years, and there is a man that has had something for five and twenty and never made half the noise about it. I have only one loaf; another man says he has not tasted for three days. There is always someone worse off than you are.


VII. THE PHYSICIAN IS SENT NOT TO THE WHOLE BUT TO THE SICK. The very asking of His question has healing in it. Some people ask about our sickness but make us worse; others ask us how we are and the kind inquiry makes us feel better.

VIII. THE SELFISHNESS OF PAIN. Here again we come on the subtle working of sin. Does any one say to the man who has been lying in pain for thirty-eight years, "You are worse than I, I shall give you a turn this time." Great numbers of people had been healed, but no one offered help. Blessing unsanctified may increase our selfishness.

IX. CHRIST'S POWER IS NOT SECONDARY BUT PRIMARY. He speaks and it stands fast.


1. It was an angel who troubled the water; it is the Son of God who opens the fountain for sin.

2. The water was moved at a certain time only; the atonement of the Son of God is open to our approaches night and day.

3. Whosoever first stepped in was cured at Bethesda; here the whole world may all go in at once.

4. Go to the fountain and one thing you will never find there — one dead man.

(J. Parker, D. D.)

Christ was eminently a public man. Wherever most people were congregated, there was He; not induced by curiosity, pleasure, or desire for admiration, but to fulfil His mission. Here we find Him after a fifty-six miles' walk. The prospect of usefulness made it worth the trouble.


1. The hospital and its bath. The cloisters were designed for ordinary bathers, but since it bad become medicinal, they were filled with the diseased.

2. The patients and their diseases.

(1)The blind with all manner of ophthalmic complaints.

(2)Halt, persons lame from accident, disease, or eruptions.

(3)Withered, those whose sinews had shrunk, and power of movement had become impossible.

3. The angel and his operations.

4. The impotent man and his special infirmity. He was deprived of the power of rapid motion, and laid expecting help; but helpful friends are only found at feasts, not in hospitals,

5. The Physician and His cure.

(1)What a question He asked! The doctor generally says, "Tell me your disease, its symptoms; let me feel your pulse." This Physician knew more than the patient.

(2)Power came with the healing word, and the man instantly became vigorous.

6. The objectors and their cavils.

7. The restored man and his lesson.

(1)The miracle had a beneficial effect, for he went into the Temple to express his gratitude.

(2)Christ gave him a caution. A worse evil might accrue through sin than thirty-eight years' affliction. And so now: a guilty conscience, loss of God's friendship, hell.

8. The communication and its effects. Who can blame the man for his effusive testimony to his benefactor? Yet it was scarcely prudent, a fact that should be borne in mind by the over-zealous, for "the Jews sought to kill Jesus."


1. Sickness is often God's discipline to prepare the mind to welcome Christ. "Blessed is the man whom Thou chastenest." The Thessalonians "received the Word in much affliction."

2. If we would be healed of our spiritual maladies we must be found where that healing is ordinarily bestowed.

(1)This may be a work of difficulty, as in the case before us.

(2)There are special seasons in which God vouchsafes signal blessings to the Church.

3. The most desperate and lengthened cases are not beyond the reach of Christ's powers.

(1)Those who have reached the age of this man and whose sin seems inveterate.


4. Copy the sympathy of Christ to the afflicted. We cannot help them as He did, but we can help and comfort them. Visit the fatherless and widows, the sick, etc.

(J. Sherman.)

This is a picture in miniature of the world.


1. Effects of sin.

2. Often the means of salvation.


1. Medicinal properties of the earth.

2. Soothing influences of nature.

3. Offices of social love.

4. The Gospel of Christ.

III. The world is SADLY SELFISH.

1. The injustice of selfishness.

2. Its impiety.

3. Its misery.

IV. The world has a GLORIOUS SAVIOUR.

1. He cures the greatest of sufferers.

2. By His own Word.

3. At the earnest desire of the patient.

(W. H. Van Doren, D. D.)

I. SOME PROBABLE ACCOUNT OF WHAT IS MYSTERIOUS HERE. This pool is placed near the sheep market or gate. You read of this sheep gate in Nehemiah. Josephus tells us that near one of the gates which corresponds with this was Solomon's pool, which we may conclude to be Bethesda. But the pool of Solomon derived its waters from the fountain of Siloam or Shiloh, which also fed the pool of Siloam. Isaiah uses the waters of Siloam "that go softly" to represent the kingdom of David, which is emblematic of the kingdom of Christ. Accordingly, the Jews attached a sacred character to them, applying to them during the feast of Tabernacles the words, "With joy shall ye draw water," etc. May we not think, therefore, that as those waters foreshadowed the kingdom of Christ, God was pleased when that kingdom was near to endue those waters with a healing power, as though to give notice of the restorative virtue that Christ would exert? A long and dreary season, without prophecy and miracles, had elapsed since Malachi; but when the time of Christ was at hand prodigies began again; and prophecy recommenced. Why not add to other attestions that one furnished by the text? Here an angel descended in token of the return of intercourse between earth and heaven. The cripple had lain for thirty-eight years, and attendance probably commenced when the waters became healing. This would place the first advent of the angel about , just when the heraldy of approach was likely to begin.


1. It was only at certain seasons that the angel descended, and only he who was instantly upon the alert became healed. The fountain opened for sin is ever equally efficacious, but there are precious opportunities in every man's life, on the taking advantage of which may depend his final salvation. There is too much ground to believe that Sunday assemblings are seasons to many of the troubling of the waters, and nevertheless not seasons of the restoration of health, because the agitation is allowed to subside.

2. The condition of cure was personal willingness. The man might have found it profitable to be maimed. Many a cripple prefers begging with one arm to working with two.(1) Wilt thou be made whole, oh young man, who art the slave of thy passions, and whose god is pleasure? Think what it is to be made whole, to mortify thy passions, to deny thyself, "to live soberly," etc.(2) Wilt thou, oh man of ambition?(3) Wilt thou, oh woman of frivolous tastes? There is a secret unwillingness which frustrates the ordinances of grace, and keeps Bethesda still crowded. Men dread the stirring of the waters, and whenever they find them agitated pour upon them the oil of flattering deceit.

3. The man was not wearied out by repeated disappointments. Men now wait upon the means week after week without apparent benefit, and are tempted to give up. But you may be giving up at the very moment when God, having duly exercised your patience, is about to interpose. The greatest promises are to those who wait upon the Lord.

(H. Melvill, B. D.)


1. He saw him. It is something for a man to look on wretchedness. Men's eyes, as a rule, are turned the other way. The Christian rule is, "Look not every man on his own things," etc.

2. He knew the circumstances of this patient, and He knows ours.

3. He pitied this poor man. "Man's inhumanity to man makes countless thousands mourn." But Jesus is a high priest that "can be touched."

4. He addressed him. He made the first advances, and awoke new hope within him.

5. He healed him. But not until the arm of flesh had failed. "Sir, I have no man," etc.

II. THE FAULTFINDERS. Surely a life so beneficent should have been left alone. But the faultfinders are everywhere, and are never at a loss for a text or pretext. They are dogs in the manger. They sneer at foreign missions, protesting that "Charity begins at home," but when beggars pass by mutter, "This is a fine sight in a Christian country." How shall we behave towards such people? Let them alone, and go on with our own business as Jesus did.


1. He was obedient.

2. He was found in the Temple, doubtless to give praise to God. But "thanksliving is better than thanksgiving"; therefore our Lord says, "Sin no more" (Job 20:11). The ruin of the soul is worse than thirty-eight years of palsy (Hebrews 6:4-9).

3. He testified of Jesus. Witness-bearing is the best preaching.

(D. J. Burrell, D. D.)


1. He was fully aware of his sickness, and owned it .He was not like those who are lost by nature, who do not know it or will not confess it.

2. He waited by the pool expecting some sign and wonder. This, too, is how many wait, persevering in ordinances and unbelief, expecting some great thing, that on a sudden they will experience strange emotions and remarkable impressions, or see a vision or hear a supernatural voice. No one will deny that a few have been thus favoured — Colossians Gardiner, e.g. — but such interpositions are not to be looked for. Jesus Himself is the greatest of wonders. In regard to this matter of waiting remark —(1) That it is not the way which God has bidden His servants preach. The gospel of our salvation is "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ."(2) This ungospel-like gospel of waiting is immensely popular. Why? Because it administers laudanum to the conscience. When the minister preaches with power and men's hearts are touched, the devil says "Wait."(3) Is not this waiting a very hopeless business? Of those who waited how few were healed? What right have you to expect that if you wait another thirty years you will be different?(4) There lies our poor friend. I do not blame him for waiting, for Jesus had not been there before.(5) Having been so often disappointed he was growing in deep despair. Moreover he was getting old; and life is wearing away with you. You have waited all this while in vain, sinfully waited. You have seen others saved, your child, your wife; but you are not.


1. He made an election. This man was possibly selected because his was the worst case and had waited longest of all.

2. Jesus said, "Wilt thou be made whole?" not for information, but to arouse attention.

3. He gave the word of command.

4. There is nothing said in the text about faith, but the whole incident shows that the man must have had faith.

5. The cure which Christ wrought was —

(1)Perfect. The man could carry his bed.

(2)Immediate. The man was not carried home by friends and gradually nursed into vital energy.

III. APPLY THE INSTANCE TO THE PRESENT OCCASION. Why should we not on this very spot have instantaneous cures of sick souls? Man fell in a moment; why should not Christ restore in a moment?

1. Look at the Biblical illustrations of what salvation is. Noah built an ark, the type of salvation. When was Noah saved? After he had been in the ark a week or two? No; the moment Noah went through the door and the Lord shut him in he was safe. Take the case of the Passover; the moment the blood was sprinkled the house was secured. When the brazen serpent was lifted up were the wounded told to wait till it was pushed in their faces, or until the venom showed certain symptoms? No, they were commanded to look. Were they healed in six months' time?

2. Take Biblical instances. The dying thief, the 3,000 at Pentecost, the Philippian jailer.

3. The work of salvation is all done. You want washing, but the fountain does not need filling. You want clothing, but the robe is ready.

4. Regeneration cannot be a work of a long time. There must be a line, we cannot always see it but God must, between life and death.

5. For God to say, "I forgive thee," takes not a century or a year. The Judge pronounces the sentence and the criminal is acquitted.

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

I. THE PORCHES WERE FULL OF SICK FOLK. The world is full of the spiritually sick — thieves, drunkards, harlots, proud, covetous, etc.

II. THESE SICK FOLK WERE FULL OF EXPECTANCY ALL THE TIME. So are many now, but their expectancy is misdirected. "As soon as I get out of my present business I will reform"; "I am going to church oftener"; "Next week is my birthday; I will then turn over a new leaf"; "I will repent on my death-bed"; "I expect to be healed in the next revival."




1. Universal.

2. It pervades our whole nature.

3. It is attended by —



(3)loss of power.

4. It will issue if not arrested in eternal death.

II. NO MAN CAN CURE HIMSELF. This is proved —

1. By consciousness.

2. By experience. All efforts at self-cure result in failure or self-deception, or, at best, in mitigation of the symptoms.

III. NO MAN OR SET OF MEN CAN CURE OTHERS. This has been attempted —

1. By educators.

2. By philosophers.

3. By ascetics.

4. By ritualists. The world is filled by spiritual charlatans.


1. He secures the right of applying the only effectual remedy by propitiating the justice of God, and securing liberty of access to the soul for the Holy Spirit.

2. He sends that Spirit as the Spirit of life and strength. As the constitution is radically affected, a radical cure is necessary, which can only be effected by a life-giving Spirit.

3. The cure is certain and permanent. It results in immortal vigour, beauty, and strength.

4. This Physician is accessible to every one at all times. He requires no preparation, and will receive no recompense.Inferences:

1. The duty of every one to apply to Him for cure.

2. The reason why any are not cured must be in them, not in Him.

3. The duty of making this Physician known to others.

(C. Hodge, D. D.)

1. The utterly lost, hopeless state of every sinner sitting by the waters of salvation (ver. 5).

2. The offer of help addressed to each man's free will for his personal acceptance (ver. 6).

3. The first phase of conflict that pride is apt to make in blaming others and excusing self (ver. 7).

4. The peremptoriness of the gospel demand: Do something, and God will help (vers. 8, 9).

5. The next phase of conflict which external opposition makes discouraging the soul with mere cavils (ver. 10).

6. The full and honest justification of conduct: The One that healed me told me what to do (ver. 11).

7. The salutary experience of solicitude against old besetting sin (ver. 14).

8. The happy obedience of active confession of Christ before others; say openly and everywhere, "It was Jesus that made me whole!" (ver. 15)

(C. S. Robinson, D. D.)

Jesus never, as a rule, let a feast go by without visiting Jerusalem.

1. To fulfil the duty of an Israelite.

2. To use the opportunity of preaching to the largest multitudes.

3. To testify the truths then to the leaders at a time when He might appear before them without their venturing to lay hands upon Him.Evangelical clergymen should use the high Christian festivals with conscientious fidelity.

1. Because then larger congregations are attracted, and many are present then who come at no other time.

2. Because souls are then in a more solemn mood than at other times.


Now there is at Jerusalem by the sheep-market a pool
was one of the most wonderful things in that wonderful city. The cisterns, in what is now called the Sanctuary, appear to have been connected by a system of channels cut out of the rock, so that when one was full the surplus water ran into the next, and so on until the final overflow was carried off by a channel into the Kedron. One of the cisterns, that known as the Great Sea, would contain two million gallons; and the total number of gallons which could be stored probably exceeded ten millions. This supply of water appears to have been obtained from springs, wells, the collection of rain in pools and cisterns, and water brought from a distance by aqueducts. The extensive remains of cisterns, pools, and aqueducts show that little dependence was placed on any natural springs existing in or near the city; and, indeed, from the formation of the ground it is doubtful whether any existed besides the Fountain of the Virgin in the Kedron Valley. There may have been a source in the Tyropaeon Valley, but it could only have been a small and not very lasting one. Water was brought into the city by two aqueducts, the "low level" and the "high level"; but the course of the former can alone be traced within the walls of the city.

(Recovery Jerusalem.)

The most natural etymology of the word is "House of Mercy." Whether the name alludes to the munificence of some pious Jew who had constructed the porches as a shelter for the sick, or whether it relates to the goodness of God, from whom this healing spring proceeded is uncertain. Delitsch supposes that the etymology was Beth-estaw, peristyle. Others have taken it from Beth Aschada, place of out-pouring (perhaps of the blood of victims). It might be supposed that the porches were five isolated buildings arranged in a circle round the pool. But it is more natural to consider it one single edifice, forming a peritagonal peristyle, in the centre of which was the reservoir. Some springs of mineral water are known at the present day at the east of the city; among others the baths of Ain-es-Schefa. Tobler has proved that this spring is fed by the large chamber of water situated under the mosque which has replaced the Temple. Another better known spring is found at the foot of the south-eastern slope of Moriah, called the Virgin Spring. It is very intermittent. The basin is quite dry; then the water is seen springing up among the stones. On one occasion Tobler saw it rise four and a half inches with a gentle undulation; on another it rose for more than twenty-two minutes to a height of six or seven inches, and came down again in two minutes to its previous level. Robinson saw it rise a foot in five minutes. He was assured that this movement is repeated at certain times twice or thrice a day, but that in summer it is seldom observed more than once in two or three days. These phenomena present a certain analogy to what is related of the Bethesda spring. Eusebius speaks also of springs in this locality, the water of which was reddish, evidently due to mineral elements, but, according to him, to the filtering of the blood of victims into it. Tradition places Bethesda in a great square hollow, surrounded by walls, at the north of the Haram, south from the street which leads from the St. Stephen's Gate. It is called Birket-Israil, and is about twenty-three yards deep, forty-four yards broad, and more than double in length. The bottom is dry, filled with grass and shrubs. Bethesda must have been in this vicinity, for here the sheep-gate was situated. As it is impossible to identify the pool, it may have been covered with debris or have disappeared, as so often happens in the case of intermittent springs. Those which are found at the present day prove only how favourable the soil is to this sort of phenomena.

(F. Godet, D. D.)The identity with Bethesda of the deep reservoir in Jerusalem, which to-day bears its name, Robinson regards as improbable, and is more inclined to find it in the intermittent fountain of the virgin on the south-east slope of the Temple Mount. From ver. 7 and the close of ver. 8, it appears that this spring probably was gaseous, and bubbled at intervals. There is a spring of this kind at Kissengen, which, after a rushing sound about the same time every day, commences to bubble, and is most efficacious at the very time the gas is making its escape. This spring is especially used in diseases of the eye.


For an angel went down at a certain season
This verse has undoubtedly no right to a place in the text. That fourth verse the most important Greek and Latin copies are without, and most of the early versions. In other MSS. which retain this verse, the obelus which hints suspicion, or the asterisk which marks rejection, is attached to it; while those in which it appears unquestioned belong mostly, as Griesbach shows, to a later recension of the text. And this fourth verse spreads the suspicion of its own spuriousness over the last clause of the verse pre- ceding, which, though it has not so great a body of evidence against it, has yet, in a less degree, the same notes of suspicion about it. Doubtless whatever here is addition, whether only the fourth verse, or the last clause also of the third, found very early its way into the text; we have it as early as , the first witness for its presence At first probably a marginal note, expressing the popular notion of the Jewish Christians concerning the origin of the healing power which from time to time these waters possessed, by degrees it assumed the shape in which now we have it: for there are marks of growth about it, betraying them- selves in a great variety of readings — some copies omitting one part, and some another, of the verse — all which is generally the sign of a later addition: thus, little by little, it procured admission into the text, probably at Alexandria at first, the birthplace of other similar additions The statement rests upon that religious view of the world, which in all nature sees something beyond nature, which does not believe that it has discovered causes, when, in fact, it has only traced the sequence of phenomena, and which everywhere recognizes a going forth of the immediate power of God, invisible agencies of His, whether personal or otherwise, accomplishing His will.

(Archbishop Trench.)

The verse is not found in "Sin," B.C. 0, nor in a few cursive MSS., nor in the Cureton Syriac, but they were in copies of this Gospel in the time of , and are quoted by , Cyril, , and others, and they exist in important MSS. As to the question why it is inserted, the reply is to assign a cause for the phenomenon. But, on the other hand, reasons no less valid may account for its omission. Who had seen the angel? What Jewish writer had recorded his appearance and operation? These are questions which might have been urged by sceptics of old as now, and the easiest way of removing objections might seem to be to omit the words. We know that this feeling operated so strongly with critics of old as to lead them to omit, not only a few words, but entire books.

(Bp. Wordsworth.)

The Jews themselves had several legends of the healing waters. Thus the "Fount of Miriam," from which the Israelites drank in the desert, was said to flow, after the conquest of Canaan, into the lake of Galilee; and it was believed that, at the end of every Sabbath, its waters flowed out and mingled with the waters of all fountains. Whoever had the good fortune to draw from a fountain at the moment when the waters of the "Fount of Miriam " mingled with it, and bathed himself with that water, would be cured of all his diseases — even if these were of the most loathsome description. Lightfoot cites an instance of a man suffering from a grievous disease who went down to the lake of Galilee to swim. Now, it happened to be the time when the Fount of Miriam was flowing, so that, when he came out of the water, he found that he was healed. The same author instances a case from the rabbins, of a fountain that was inhabited by two spirits — one evil and one good. When Abba Joses sat at this fountain, there "appeared to him the spirit that resided there, and said, 'You know well enough how many years I have dwelt in this place, and how yourselves and your wives have come and returned without any damage done to you. But now you must know that an evil spirit endeavours to supply my room, who would prove very mischievous to you.' He saith to him, 'What must we do then?' He answered him and said, 'Go and tell the townspeople that whoever hath a hammer and an iron pin or bolt, let him come hither to-morrow morning, and have his eye intent upon the waters, and when you see the waters troubled, then let them knock with the iron, and say, "The victory is ours"; and so let them not go back till they see thick drops of blood upon the face of the waters." To which the gloss adds, "By this sign it will appear that the spirit was conquered and killed." The reader who is concerned about the result of this stratagem may be glad to know that it proved quite successful. In connection with this general subject it is interesting to note the belief, among primitive peoples all over the world, in the waters of life. In a legend found among the Modern Greeks the water of life flows within a hollow rock, and is inaccessible except to a favoured few; in another case where the waters are concealed in the same way, the rock opens at noon, and discloses several springs, each of which calls out, "Come, draw from me," but only one is the spring of the water of life; and this true spring is pointed out by a bee which flies directly to it. Whoever draws this water Of life can sprinkle a few drops of it upon any dead animal or man, and immediately the dead will spring to life. Even when the dead have been hacked to pieces, the water of life sprinkled over the parts will bring them together, and unite them into a new and youthful life. In some cases, two springs are said to flow side by side, one giving forth the water of life, the other giving forth the water of death. If the water of death is taken instead of the water of life, the opposite effect is produced. A drop or two will kill a living man at once. There are also legends throughout the whole world concerning the waters of strength. These are generally fabled to be guarded by some mythical monster — snake or dragon — but whoever eludes the vigilance of these guardians, and possesses himself of the water, has the means of endowing himself with superhuman strength. To swallow a few drops is to make one's self, according to the legend, more than a match for any mortal foe.

What St. John affirms is that a certain invisible angel or minister was the instrument of making the water beneficial to the persons who went down into it. He accounts in this way for its operation being more useful at one time than another. That assertion, you say, interferes with the doctrine that there were certain properties in the water itself which affected the condition of human beings. How does it interfere? You hold that the vaccine matter has in itself the property of counteracting the virus of the small-pox. But you hold also that the intelligence of Jenner had something to do with making this vaccine matter available for actual cure; you hold that the intelligence of different medical men has something to do with bringing the preventive power to bear on particular cases. You know this for a fact, but physical science tells you nothing of the way in which the intelligence co-operates with the natural agent. The notion that it does is a fallacy. In no instance whatever can the mere study of physics help you to determine anything respecting moral or intellectual forces, though at every turn the study of physics compels you to the acknowledgment of such forces. It will save us from innumerable confusions if we take this proposition in the length and breadth of it. Through neglect of it the physician and the metaphysician are perpetually stumbling against each other when they might be the greatest helpers of each other.

(F. D. Maurice, D. D.)It seems a worthy exercise of Divine revelation to lead human philosophy to regard what are called physical phenomena as being not produced by natural laws, though they may be regulated according to them, but as effected by Divine agency; in a word, to elevate the human mind from the lower level of material mechanics to the higher region of spiritual dynamics.

(Bp. Wordsworth.)

In every excited fear of the vengeance of God, in every impulse which would send you to your knees, in every brief aspiration after holiness and heaven, you have tokens that the angel has been with you, summoning you to be heedful, and not to lose the opportunity which may, perhaps, be the last. And if you take not advantage of the troubling of the waters, if, that is, when you feel prompted to pray you omit to pray; when made conscious of the evil of a practice, you do not forthwith set yourselves to correct that practice; and when moved to the study of the Scriptures, you defer that study to a more convenient season, why, there is more than a probability that you will not soon again be visited with the desire after salvation, and that, even when so visited, it will be in less measure; for the Spirit of God, who is the actual agent, whatever the instrumentality employed in troubling the waters, is grieved and provoked by resistance to His influences, and may be tempted altogether to withdraw, when He has striven with you, and agitated you in vain.
An infirmity thirty and eight years
There is a city missionary traversing this district, who finds in a room a woman ninety-eight years of age, and begins to tell her about Christ and salvation; and the poor old woman receives it, and comes to this table, at ninety-eight years of age, for the first time, avowing her faith in Christ, and linking in her hand a little girl fourteen years old, who was received into the Church with herself. Aged and young can be cured by Christ's power. There sat in a country village a poor old diseased woman, who with the greatest difficulty got into the kitchen of a butcher, in whose house some itinerants used to go and preach, to listen to the Word; and she is seventy-two years of age; but the Word goes into her mind, she receives it, and not only becomes a devoted follower of Christ, but one of the most useful women in the village. There is hope for you! When I was at Bath I heard of a gentleman who had retired from business, surrounded with the bounties of Providence, but had not sought Christ. His wife was very anxious, good woman! about him. One day she prevailed upon him to come with her to God's house; and as she went she prayed that God would give the minister some text that would be likely to impress her poor thoughtless, witty, indifferent husband's mind; and when the minister gave out his text, it was this, "My Beloved is mine, and I am His." "I thought," she said, "I should sink in the pew; I knew what fun he would be likely to make of the passage." However, the Word went home to him, and his thought was this — "I know my wife can say that Christ is her Beloved, and that she is His beloved, but He is not mine"; and from that moment he became a devoted follower of the Lamb, used his property for the service of Christ, and went to heaven rejoicing in His favour.

(J. Sherman.)

Wilt thou be made whole?
Preacher's Analyst.


III. THE EXPRESSION OF CONSCIOUS POWER. The question is still asked — How many refuse the offer!

(Preacher's Analyst.)





(T. Whitelaw, D. D.)

It seems a strange question. Who would not be made whole? Would the poor man have been lying at the pool had he not been anxious for healing? Yet, as our Lord spake no superfluous words, it may be perceived that the paralysis was mental as well as physical. He had waited until despondency had dried up his spirits, and he scarcely cared whether he was made whole or not. The Saviour touched a chord that needed to vibrate; He aroused a dormant faculty whose exercise was essential to cure. Are there not those here who, through having waited so long, are beginning to get paralyzed in their once earnest desires to come to occupy this seat as a mere matter of custom.

I. This question is needful, because IT IS NOT ALWAYS UNDERSTOOD.

1. It is not the same as "Wilt thou be saved from going to hell?" — every one answers "Aye" to that; but "Wilt thou be saved from sin?"

2. To help you, let me remind you that there never were but two men perfectly whole.

(1)The first Adam. We should all be willing to be in paradise with him; but are we willing to walk with God as he did?

(2)The second Adam. "Holy, harmless, undefiled," etc. Whole towards God, man, holiness. Do you wish to be like Him?

3. When a man is whole there are certain evil propensities which are expelled, and Certain moral qualities which he is sure to possess




(4)generosity in giving and forgiving.

4. He will have spiritual graces also —




II. THIS QUESTION IS CAPABLE OF A GOOD MANY REPLIES, and therefore it is the more necessary that it should be asked and answered.

1. There are some whose only reply is no answer at all. They don't want to consider anything of the sort.

(1)"We are young, and have plenty of time."

(2)"We are business people, and have something else to do."

(3)"We are wealthy and cultured, and must not be expected to look at these things as coarse-minded people do."

(4)"We are too ill to trouble about it." But there is another class, who once had a religious concern, whose answer is not very earnest. They have become habituated to unbelieving misery, and persist in carrying a burden of which their Saviour wants to relieve them.

2. Too many give evasive replies to the question —

(1)"How am I to know whether I am God's elect or not?" That is not the question at this stage. It will be. answered by and by.

(2)"I have not the power to cease from sin." God will give the power in proportion as He gives the will.

(3)"I have been so guilty in the past. The question is not, How sick art thou? but Wilt thou be made whole?"

3. There are a good many persons who practically say "No."

(1)One says, "I would be made whole," and yet when Divine service is over he goes back to his sin.

(2)Those say "No" who neglect the house of God.

(3)So do those who hear the Word inattentively; and

(4)those who fear lest their being made whole would involve the loss of social position, gains, or companions.


IV. WHERE THIS QUESTION IS ANSWERED IN THE NEGATIVE IT INVOLVES MOST FEARFUL SIN. You prefer yourself to God, sin to holiness. This is your deliberate choice. When you come to die, and when you live in another state, you will curse yourself for having made such a choice as this.

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

I. WHAT IS SUPPOSED IN THE CONDITION OF THE PERSON ADDRESSED. A state of disorder and disease, or the question would be absurd. You often hear of the dignity of human nature.

1. Physically and intellectually it is dignified when we see man, in his capacity for boundless improvement, "a little lower than the angels."

2. But how lamentable it is to find his fine powers misapplied and abused! What is man morally and religiously? —

(1)His body has become mortal and subject to every calamity.

(2)His soul is alienated from the life of God.

(3)He has no spiritual health.


1. That the disease is curable. But not by man;

(1)not by government;


(3)the law;


(5)but only by the Cross of Jesus Christ, the efficacy of whose cure is attested by millions.

2. That willingness to be cured is essential to recovery. The cure is not forced upon you, nor is it accomplished by an insensible process, nor by a charm, nor by chance. A Divine influence makes us sensible of our need, and of the importance of the blessing; then we have to choose the good part.


1. By inquiring after the way and the means.

2. By applying to the Physician.

3. By submission to the prescription without murmuring or complaint. Not like Naaman, but like the blind man who went to the pool of Siloam.

4. By the eagerness with which you look after convalescence.


1. The nature of the complaint, than which nothing is more dreadful.

2. The Physician who addresses you. He has everything to recommend Him. He is able; willing. He demands no fee.

3. The brevity and uncertainty of the time in which the cure must be effected.

4. The fact that rejection will be the greatest aggravation of the misery by which it will be ended.


1. To avoid the sins which led to the injury.

2. Gratitude.

3. Consecration of renewed spiritual health to the Physician.

4. To recommend the cure to others.

(W. Jay.)

I. Many are hindered by a VAGUE SENSE WORKING THROUGH VENERATION AND THE IMAGINATION OF THE MAGNITUDE AND IMPORTANCE OF RELIGION. They have the impression that they are to carry the world on their shoulders. They are cautious, timid, conscientious, and feel that their strength and resolution are not adequate to so great a thing as the amplitude of religious life. This would be valid ii religion called men at first to take the service of Jesus Christ in its perfected form. But it is not so. The Master bids us become as little children, and go on step by step. The question is whether you are willing to take the child's step towards the consummation.

II. There are others who are caught IN MORBID INTELLECTUALISM, AND ARE STUCK UPON THE SPIRES AND THORNS OF SOME DOCTRINAL SYSTEM. They fail to separate between religion and its doctrines. With one it is election, with another reprobation. They have not learned to let such things alone. They are insoluble, most of them. Christ says, "Seek ye first the kingdom of God and His" — not catechism, confession of faith, doctrine, but "righteousness." Let life, practice, experience, precede, and they will shape theory and philosophy.


1. There are many who have entered on a religious life under such misconceptions we have been buffeted by such influences that sentiment, honour, conscience, taste, or pride, has been almost fatally wounded.

2. Others become torpid or dead. In youth, while enthusiasm was strong, they felt that there was a reality in religion; but it having proved a mockery to them they come to have the impression that there is nothing in it.

3. But there are a great many who do not fall so far. They hoped to be saved, but are without any definite purposes. But the mistakes that have been made are no reason why you should not with better light and ampler experience regain the lost ground. No man can afford to throw himself away because he has made a mistake in attempting to be healed. The woman with the issue of blood did not do so. Forget, then, the things that are behind. If you would be made whole, remember that failure is no reason for not striving again.

IV. Many are hindered by THE INSPECTION OF THE LIVES OF CHRISTIAN MEN. This is ignoble, and has nothing to do with your own case. However others may be cowardly and false, that is no reason why you should not be courageous and true. This is no excuse, it is the plea of a man who is in search of one.

V. THE DEBILITATING EFFECT OF SCEPTICAL DOUBTS UPON THE MORAL SENSE. Such is the nature of things that we live by faith and not by sight in respect to the whole realm of the invisible from which the power is to be derived, by which the soul is to be rectified. Once let a man doubt, and it will break the power of his believing. And many people are so moved that their moral root is impaired. Is not this so? To you, then, Christ comes and asks this question. There is healing in Him for those who are impotent from doubt.


1. Some are so familiar with their Bible that it is worn smooth. Their wheels slip on the track.

2. Others never break into flame. They are compacted of thoughts and feelings which are so covered up and smothered that they never have disclosure. They are given to revive. The work of the world is not accomplished in this way, nor is that of Christianity. Don't, then, think about the poetry of religion, but brace yourself for its activities.Conclusion:

1. Every man, whatever his hindrances, should be faithful to the inward yearning to be made whole. If that lives there is hope.

2. To such Christ will come. There is a way when there is a will.

(H. W. Beecher.)

All the healing work of the pool was God's work, and His alone; but in our text we have man's work side by side with God's. There were five porches. In all probability these porches were built by some charitable people in the city of Jerusalem, who had argued something after this sort — "We have no power to heal the sick, but we can at all events build a shelter for them when they come seeking a cure. It is not in us to move the water into an all-healing pool, but we can build a place so near the water that when the sufferers come after many a weary mile, they will be able to rest there, secured from the sun, and sheltered from the tempest, and wait in comfort until the angel of mercy stirs it with his wing." Thus, I think, you will see we have in our text the union of God's work and human agency. God digs the pool and man builds the porches.

I. LET US LOOK AT BETHESDA, WITH ITS PORCHES, AS ILLUSTRATING SPIRITUAL WORK. It is a high honour, beloved, to be a co-worker with God, no matter in how humble a capacity. God can do without us. The pool could do without the porches, and do as well without them. It had none of its healing qualities from them. No poor sufferer was ever eased of his pain because of the influence of the porches upon the pool. It was the pool alone that did the work and had all the glory of the cure. But remember, on the other hand, that God so ordered it that the porches should be built by man. God digging" the pool does not exonerate man from building the porches. Let us for a moment look and see how this may be applied in many ways. This blessed book is all of Him. No human hand dug its deep well of truth. From Genesis to Revelations it makes one glorious Bethesda. It is a house of mercy, and in its chapters and verses there is latent healing power, that needs but the moving of the Spirit to heal any. To write this book, and make it a power of healing unto souls, is God's work, and His work alone. But you and I can place this book into the hands of different people, and that is our work. God writes the book, but it is for us to print it, and scatter it on every hand. He makes this pool of Bethesda; but you and I, perhaps through the agency of a Bible Society, have to help build the five porches. Man can neither give himself nor anyone else faith; but man can build the sanctuaries for the gospel to be preached in. Therefore God does not build any chapels by miracles. If men want to have houses to worship in, God says, "that is your work: you must toil, and you must collect, and you must give, and you must pay for it. You can build the brick porch, but it is for Me to make it a Bethesda, a house of mercy unto thousands." It has occurred to me that in many ways Bethesda makes a very beautiful illustration of what a sanctuary ought to be. I will briefly notice one or two points.

1. The first thing we observe is — that those porches were only built for the sake of the pool. You cannot imagine any gentleman in Jerusalem having built them merely for the sake of an architectural display. Most certainly they were not built for lounges and as equally certain is it they were not built for people to sleep in. They were simply built to help men to get to the water that could heal them. Every sanctuary that is built aright is built from the same motive. It is built simply to lead men unto Christ.

2. But observe, secondly, that the porches were only of value as they led to the pool. In other words, the porch was no good to any man except he went beyond it. Do you observe, too, that those who filled the porches were just the very ones we want to see filling our sanctuaries? They were not only sick ones in those porches. They were something better. They were those who knew themselves to be sick. They came there with a special purpose, and that purpose was to be healed. That preacher has delightful work who preaches to a congregation drawn by the same desire. And then you observe that they were poor people that were there, people that could not any way afford to have a doctor. I would that we could see more of the poor and penniless helping to fill our sanctuaries. And observe, lastly here, that there were plenty of them. It is said, "In these lay a great multitude." There is nothing easier than to sneer at numbers when they come to hear the preaching of the Word, though I never heard them despised when the meeting is of a political or secular nature. May God make every porch in this great east end of London too straight for the throngs of the poor and the sick and the spiritually diseased that shall crowd into them.

II. And now, lastly, I desire to use this text as illustrating THE WORK WE MAY DO IN CONJUNCTION WITH GOD FOR THE ALLEVIATION AND HEALING OF BODILY SICKNESS. Alas, that group at Bethesda is but a very small sample of a great multitude — a multitude seeking health. Mark you the means are nothing of themselves. The water was nothing until the angel touched it. The medicine is nothing until God blesses it. The physician of himself is powerless, let him be never so clever in his profession. What is it then that is needed? It is the blessing of the angel of the covenant resting on the means that are used — it is God commanding health through their instrumentality. But you and I may say, "Brother, we cannot make you whole, we wish we could, but there is a Bethesda which, by the Lord's blessing, may, and we can build a porch to help you get and stay there. We know you are poor and cannot afford to have a long doctor's bill come in, and your poverty only deepens our sympathy, so we will build you a porch which shall be free of all expense. We will build you a place where you can obtain just the care, and just the nursing, and just the medicine that you need, without it costing you a penny.

(A. G. Brown.)

Do you think it a strange question? Do you take it for granted that a man must long to be freed from the tyranny of sin. Ah! I would to God it were so. But it is not.

1. One desires to be saved only from the consequences of sin, and from the eternal death which is the bitter wages of sin; but not — not to "be made whole!" No! To be made whole would mean giving up some practice which has become second nature. It would mean making new rules of life which would stand in the way of present prosperity.

2. If this one were to say straight out what is in his heart, he would answer the question, "Wilt thou be made whole?" — thus, "Ah, Lord Jesus, leave me as I am! Only — in the hour of death, and in the day of judgment, good Lord, deliver me!"

3. Another, does desire to be released from his sin. But this one is so slothful that he cannot rouse himself and look that sin in the face, like a man, and close with it, determined to overcome it once and for all And so he gets into a way of taking his state for granted. He uses prayer, and the means of grace, in a limp, perfunctory manner, hoping for nothing, expecting nothing, in fact believing nothing, and so getting nothing. His answer would be something like this — "It is no use now. It might have been once. I am too far gone." My brethren, if we do not desire it, then our blood be on our own heads. God does not save men against their wills, and in spite cf their wills. But if we are in earnest, let us arise at Christ's bidding and do His commands.

(I. B.C. Murphy, B. A.)

Jesus says to the man not "Dost thou desire?" but "Art thou really determined?" For the desire is not doubtful, but energy of will seems wanting. It can only be restored by means of faith. On the one hand Jesus draws the sufferer from the dark despondency into which his long and useless waiting had plunged him, and revives his hopes; on the other, he withdraws his mind from the source of cure to which it was exclusively attached, and puts him in moral connection with the true Bethesda.

(F. Godet, D. D.)

A superfluous question, it might seem, for who would not be made whole if he might? But the question has its purpose. This poor man had been so often defeated of a cure, that hope was dead, or well-nigh dead, within him, and the question is asked to awaken in him anew a yearning after the benefit, which the Saviour, pitying his hopeless case, was about to impart.

(Archbishop Trench.)

Sir, I have no man when the water is troubled to put me into the pool
This child of pain suffered a double martyrdom — that of being incapable of reaching the pool, and that of seeing others less needy snatch the boon from before his very eyes. A multitude of various crippled people wait for chances of social, intellectual, and moral improvement, who for the want of a helping hand have the mortification of seeing less encumbered folks step into the opening.


1. These are paralysed by the lack of friends, funds, or facilities.

2. In gracious response to this expectancy angels of life frequently stir the water. In our day the spirit of change is abroad.

3. The ever-recurring changes of life contribute to the good of mankind. Stagnation is the curse of life; revolution is its salvation.


1. The Bible may fall into the hands of an illiterate person, and thus the fountain of all good may be sealed. Self-help is a note frequently sounded, but a great section of the race have little power of self-help. No doubt they are cognizant of chances, but are constitutionally or circumstantially incapable of seizing them.

2. With an energetic helper a fair proportion might rear themselves. Artists, preachers, etc., long for fame, but having no helper, live and die in obscurity.

3. All through life supplementary ministries are in requisition. Wanted:

(1)In the scientific world the missing link!

(2)In the political world the man for the hour!

(3)In the Christian world souls not too absorbed to care for others!


1. The world comprises that class who attain by sheer audacity, and are deterred by no modesty or charity. Many, however, collapse, which saves us much bitterness of soul.

2. God is our law and pattern. Let us be merciful as He is. We require to be careful, lest in the race of life we grow callous and unsympathetic. Turner, when the hanging committee could find no place for an obscure painter's picture, took down one of his own magnificent productions and hung the stranger's there in the very forefront of publicity. That was compassion like a man.

IV. THE ONLY RESOURCE OF NEGLECTED MEN IS CHRIST. We hail Him as the One mighty to save in all the provinces of life.

1. He loves to take the world by surprise. The most this unfortunate expected was a promise to assist him to the pool some day.

2. Take up thy bed, etc., suggests to us "strike out for yourself." Christ the Author of faith communicates to us who will receive it the capacity to think, act, pray, etc., which is infinitely superior to the habit of dependence on the services, modes, doctrines of others.

(W. J. Acomb.)

is one of —




(Van Doren.)

(in melancholy, hypochondria, etc.): —




IV. IT CAN MAKE THE CURE UNCERTAIN AGAIN ("lest a worse thing come unto thee").

(J. P. Lange, D. D.)

One wintry day Hawthorne, the American author, went home with a heavy heart, having lost his government appointment. He cast himself down, as men generally do under similar circumstances, and assumed the very attitude of despondency. His wife soon discovers the cause of his distress. But instead of indulging in irrational hysterics, she kindles a bright fire, brings pen, ink, and paper, and then, lovingly laying her hand on his shoulder, exclaims, as she gazes cheerfully in his face, "Now you can write your book." The word wrought like a magic spell. He set to work, forgot his loss, wrote his book, made his reputation, and amassed a fortune. God-fearing women, go and do likewise!

(W. J. Acomb.)

It is said of Bruce, that, in prison, and discouraged with the heat of his campaign for the liberties of his country, he in moody thoughts meditated giving up the struggle; but as he lay and thought, a spider, spinning down, caught his web upon some point, and almost fell to the floor. Not daunted, it crept up and back, and started again; and missed again. And again it tried, and fell again. It went through seven trials, and finally, on the eighth, caught and established itself. And then, with a base-line laid, it formed its web. Bruce took heart from that, through rebuke, and determined never to give up the struggle. And at last victory came.

(H. W. Beecher.)

He looked that Christ should have done him that good office (of putting him into the pool), and could not think of any other way of cure. How easy it is of us to measure God by our model, to cast Him into our moulds, to think He must needs go our way to work.

(J. Trapp.)

I had a friend who stood by the rail-track at Carlisle, Penn., when the ammunition had given out at Antietam, and he saw the train from Harrisburg, freighted with shot and shell, as it went thundering down towards the battlefield. He said that it stopped not for any crossing. They put down the brakes for no grade. They held up for no peril. The wheels were on fire with the speed as they dashed past. If the train did not come up in time with the ammunition, it might as well not come at all. So, my friends, there are times in our lives when we must have help immediately or perish.

(Dr. Talmage.)

A poor fellow in Exeter Hall signed the temperance pledge some twenty or thirty years ago. He was a prize-fighter — a miserable, debauched, degraded, ignorant creature. A gentleman stood by his side, a builder in London, employing some hundreds of men, and he said to him — what did he say? "Stick to it?" No! "I hope you will stick to it, my friend?" No! "It will be a good thing for you if you stick to it?" No! He said this — "Where do you sleep to-night?" "Where I slept last night." "And where is that?" "In the streets." "No you won't; you have signed this pledge, and you belong to this society, and you are going home with me."

(J. B. Gough.)

Christian was left to tumble in the Slough of Despond alone; but still he endeavoured to struggle to that side of the slough which was furthest from his own house, and next to the wicket gate: the which he did, but could not get out by reason of the burden that was upon his back; but I beheld in my dream, that a man came to him whose name was Help. Then said he, "Give me thine hand." So he gave him his hand, and he drew him out and set him upon sound ground, and bid him go on his way.

(J. Bunyan.)

Take up thy bed and walk
It was the Sabbath day and a feast. Where and how would Jesus spend it? Not in any trifling manner. He would do good; so He spent it amongst the afflicted, and not even among His friends.

I. First we will go down to BETHESDA, the hospital of waiters. There was nothing else that they could do before the troubling of the waters. There are enough waiters to-day to fill all the five porches.

1. Some are waiting for a more convenient season — on a sick-bed, possibly, or a dying-bed. How many years have you been waiting? The wise man lives to-day.

2. In the second porch a crowd is waiting for dreams and visions like those with which some ancient prophet was favoured. What is this but insulting unbelief? Is not Christ to be believed until a sign or wonder corroborates his testimony?

3. The third is full of people who are waiting for a sort of compulsion, They have heard about the drawing of the Spirit of God. But He acts upon the will by enlightening the understanding. The gospel, which says "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ" is His, and to reject that is to reject Him.

4. In the fourth are people who are waiting for a revival. But the gospel command is not suspended until revival comes: that says, "To-day, if ye will hear His voice," and if a revival should come it is very unlikely to affect procrastinators.

5. Many are waiting in the porch of expected impression. They want the minister to preach a sermon that touches them. But he has done so, again and again, and yet they are waiting. The people in the narrative were waiting for the moving waters, and not for Jesus, and that is what you are doing; and I want to teach you better.(1) They attach great importance to the place. So do you, but Jesus can save as readily in your place of business on Monday as in your chapel on Sunday. Get ye to Him and not to the Church.(2) They waited for an influence that was intermittent, and you are thinking of special seasons, whereas "Now is the accepted time."(3) They were waiting for an influence that was very limited to certain persons, and so many regard salvation as a privilege of a few, the moral, the well circumstanced, etc. But in the gospel there is room for all.

6. Some like the poor man placed reliance on others, and many now rest on the prayers of others rather than on Christ Himself.

II. CHRIST PICKS OUT THE MOST HELPLESS MAN IN THE WHOLE WORLD. He was not only impotent in body, but in mind, for instead of saying "yes" at once, he went on with a rambling story; and when healed he never asked Christ's name. There are people like that now, who scarcely know their own mind, irresolute, unstable. But Christ pities them as He did him.

III. HOW JESUS DEALT WITH HIM. If Christ had belonged to a certain class of ministers He would have said, "Right, my man; you are lying at the pool of ordinances, and there you had better lie," or — "You had better pray." But, on the contrary,

1. He gave him a command. But to rise was impossible. Never mind, there was the command. It was a command which implied faith, and which had to prove itself by practical works. The man did believe, and rose, etc. Now, if you believe in Jesus, you will rise up and walk immediately.

2. The way faith came was very remarkable. He did not know Jesus: but you do, and His atonement for sin.

3. His faith, proved by rising, settled the matter.

4. There is life in a look at the crucified One here and at once.

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

This third of the miracles recorded in John's Gospel finds a place there, as it would appear, for two reasons — first, because it marks the beginning of the angry unbelief on the part of the Jewish rulers, the development of which it is one part of the purpose of this Gospel to trace; second, because it is the occasion for that great utterance of our Lord's about His Sonship and His Divine working as the Father also works, which occupies the whole of the rest of the chapter, and is the foundation of much which follows in the Gospel. Christ comes to this impotent man, and says, "Wilt thou be made whole?" meaning thereby to say, "I will heal thee if thou wilt." And there comes the weary answer, as if. the man had said, "Will I be made whole? What have I been lying here all these years for? I have nobody to put me into the pool." Yes! It is a hopeful prospect to hold out to a man whose disease is inability to walk, that if he will walk to the water he will get cured, and be able to walk afterwards. Why, he could not even roll himself into the pond, and so there he had lain, a type of the hopeless efforts at self-healing which we sick men put forth, a type of the tantalizing gospels which the world preaches to its subjects when it says to a paralyzed man, "Walk that you may be healed; keep the commandments that you may enter into life." I fix upon these words, the actual words in which the cure was conveyed, as communicating to us some very important lessons and thoughts about Christ and our relation to Him.

I. CHRIST MANIFESTING HIMSELF AS THE GIVER OF POWER TO THE POWERLESS THAT TRUST HIM. His words may seem at first hearing to partake of the very same almost cruel irony as the condition of cure which had already proved hopelessly impracticable. He, too, says, "Walk that you may be cured"; and he says it to a paralyzed and impotent man. But the two things are very different, for before this cripple could attempt to drag his impotent limbs into an upright position, and take up the little light couch and sling it over his shoulders, he must have had some kind of trust in the person that told him to do so. A very ignorant trust, no doubt, it was; but all that was set before him about Jesus Christ he grasped and rested upon. He only knew Him as a Healer, and he trusted Him as such. So it is no spiritualizing of this story, or reading into it a deeper and more religious meaning than belongs to it, to say that what passed in that man's heart and mind before He caught up his little bed and walked away with it, was essentially the same action of mind and heart by which a sinful man, who knows that Christ is his Redeemer, grasps His Cross and trust his soul to Him. In the one case, as in the other, there is confidence in the person; only in the one case the person is only known as a Healer, and in the other the person is known as a Saviour. But the faith is the same whatever it apprehends. Christ comes and says to him, "Rise! take up thy bed and walk." There is a movement of confidence in the man's heart; he tries to obey, and in the act of obedience the power comes to him. All Christ's commandments are gifts. When He says to you, "Do this!" He pledges Himself to give you power to do it.

II. We have in this miracle our lord set forth as the absolute master, because he is the healer. The Pharisees and their friends had no eyes for the miracle; but if they found a man carrying his light couch on the Sabbath Day, that was a thing that excited their interest, and must be seen to immediately. And so, paying no attention to the fact that it was a paralyzed man that was doing this, with the true, narrow instinct of the formalist, they lay hold only of the fact of the broken rabbinical restrictions, and try to stop him with it. "It is the Sabbath Day! It is not lawful for thee to carry thy bed." And they got an answer which goes a great deal deeper than the speaker knew, and puts the whole subject of Christian obedience on its right footing. He answered them, "He that made me whole, the same said unto me, Take up thy bed and walk." As if He had said, "He gave me the power, had He not a right to tell me what to do with it? It was His gift that I could lift my bed; was I not bound to walk when and where He that had made me able to walk at all, chose to bid me?" And if you generalize that it just comes to this: the only person that has a right to command you is the Christ that saves you. He has the absolute authority to do as He will with your restored spiritual powers, because He has bestowed them all upon you. His dominion is built upon His benefits. He is the King because He is the Saviour. It is joy to know and to do the will of One to Whom the whole heart turns with gratitude and affection. And Christ blesses and privileges us by the communication to us of his pleasure concerning us, that we may have the gladness of yielding to His desires, and so meeting the love which commands with the happy love which obeys.

III. WE HAVE HERE OUR LORD SETTING HIMSELF FORTH AS THE DIVINE SON, WHOSE WORKING NEEDS AND KNOWS NO REST. "Father worketh hitherto, and I work." The rest, which the old story in Genesis attributed to the Creator after the Creation, was not to be construed as if it meant the rest of inactivity. But it was the rest of continuous action. God's rest and God's work are one. Throughout all the ages preservation is a continuous creation. The Divine energy is streaming out for evermore; as the bush that burns unconsumed, as the sun that flames undiminished for ever, pouring out from the depth of that Divine nature; and for ever sustaining a universe. So that there is no Sabbath, in the sense of a cessation from action, proper to the Divine nature; because all His action is repose, and "e'en in His very motion there is rest." And this Divine coincidence of activity and of repose belongs to the Divine Son in His Divine human nature. With that arrogance which is the very audacity of blasphemy, if it be not the simplicity of a Divine consciousness, He puts His own work side by side with the Father's work, as the same in principle, the same in method, the same in purpose, the same in its majestic coincidence of repose and of energy — "My Father worketh hitherto, and I Work. Therefore for Me, as for Him, there is no need of a Sabbath of repose." Human activity is dis. sipated by toil, human energy is exhausted by expenditure. Man works and is weary; man works and is distracted. For the recovery of the serenity of his spirit, and for the renewal of his physical strength, repose of body, and gathering in of mind, such as the Sabbath brought, were needed; but neither is needed for Him who toils unwearied in the heavens; and neither is needed for the Divine nature of Him who labours in labours parallel with the Father's here upon the earth.

IV. WE HAVE IN THIS INCIDENT THE HEALER, WHO IS ALSO THE JUDGE, WARNING THE HEALED OF THE POSSIBILITIES OF A RELAPSE (ver. 14). The man's eight-and-thirty years of illness had apparently been brought on by dissipation. It was a sin of flesh, avenged in the flesh, that had given him that miserable life. One would have thought he had got warning enough, but we all know the old proverb about what happened when the devil was ill, and what befell his resolutions when he got better. And so Christ comes to him again with this solemn warning. "There is a worse thing than eight-and-thirty years of paralysis. You fell once, and sore was your punishment. If you fall twice, your punishment will be sorer." Why? Because the first one has done you no good."

(A. Maclaren, D. D.)


1. The sinful.

2. The spiritually depressed.

3. Declining Christians, for

(1)Their prayers have got low,

(2)their Bible reading,

(3)their attendance at Church and Holy Communion.

(4)Their intercourse with their family and the world.

(5)Their charities and general usefulness.


1. Sin.

2. Self.

3. The world.

4. Their retrospects.

5. Their hopes.

6. Their sorrows.

III. TO WHAT are they to rise?

1. To Christ.

2. To duty.

3. To heaven.

(J. Vaughan, M. A.)





1. As a Worker of miracles.

2. As Lord of the Sabbath.


(W. H. Van Doren, D. D.)

S. S. Times.
which the man was commanded to take up was neither a walnut bedstead, nor an iron bedstead, nor any other of the bed-structures to which we are accustomed in the West. The bed of a low-class Oriental may consist of anything from a rag to a rug. The poorer classes have often no other bed than the garment which they wear by day, which thus serves for a cloak by day and a bed by night. The bed which the infirm man was commanded to take up was, in all probability, simply the ordinary Oriental mat or rug, which could easily be rolled up and carried under the arm.

(S. S. Times.)

Jesus, John
Bethesda, Jerusalem, Sheep Gate
Feast, Festival, Jerusalem, Jews
1. Jesus on the Sabbath day cures him who was diseased thirty-eight years.
10. The Jews therefore object, and persecute him for it.
17. He answers for himself, and reproves them, showing by the testimony of his Father,
31. of John,
36. of his works,
39. and of the Scriptures, who he is.

Dictionary of Bible Themes
John 5:1

     5442   pilgrimage
     5976   visiting

John 5:1-9

     5278   cripples

John 5:1-14

     5285   cures

John 5:1-16

     5381   law, letter and spirit

John 5:1-18

     7505   Jews, the

TEXT: "And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the Kingdom of Heaven."--Matt. 18:3. Jesus Christ was the world's greatest teacher and preacher. Multitudes followed him because he taught them, not as the scribes, but as one having authority. He came to them with the deepest truth of God, but couched in such familiar expressions, and told in such a fascinating way, that all men heard him and went their way rejoicing that so
J. Wilbur Chapman—And Judas Iscariot

May 12 Morning
Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and everyone that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God.--I JOHN 4:7. The love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost, which is given unto us.--Ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God.--He that believeth on the Son of God hath the witness in himself. In this
Anonymous—Daily Light on the Daily Path

July 2 Evening
[Jesus] prayed the third time, saying the same words.--MATT. 26:44. Who in the days of his flesh . . . offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears unto him that was able to save him from death. Then shall we know, if we follow on to know the Lord.--Continuing instant in prayer.--Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication.--By prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known
Anonymous—Daily Light on the Daily Path

September 29 Evening
What things soever the Father doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise.--JOHN 5:19. The Lord giveth wisdom: out of his mouth cometh knowledge and understanding.--I will give you a mouth and wisdom, which all your adversaries shall not be able to gainsay nor resist. Wait on the Lord: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart.--My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Them that are sanctified by God the Father.--He that sanctifieth and they who are
Anonymous—Daily Light on the Daily Path

June 22 Morning
Ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God.--COL. 3:3. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?--I am crucified with Christ, nevertheless I live; yet not I but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.--He died for all, that they which live should not live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them and rose again.--If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature; old
Anonymous—Daily Light on the Daily Path

February 27 Morning
Reckon ye yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.--ROM. 6:11. 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.--I through the law am dead to the law, that I might live unto God. I am crucified with Christ; nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God,
Anonymous—Daily Light on the Daily Path

July 25 Morning
We know that we have passed from death unto life.--I JOHN 3:14. 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.--He that hath the Son hath life, and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life. He which stablisheth us with you in Christ and hath anointed us, is God; who hath also sealed us, and given the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts.--Hereby we know that we are of the truth and shall
Anonymous—Daily Light on the Daily Path

May 18 Morning
As the Father hath life in himself; so hath he given to the Son to have life in himself.--JOHN 5:26. Our Saviour Jesus Christ, . . . hath abolished death, and hath brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.--I am the resurrection, and the life.--Because I live, ye shall live also.--We are made partakers of Christ.--Partakers of the Holy Ghost.--Partakers of the divine nature.--The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening spirit.--Behold, I shew you
Anonymous—Daily Light on the Daily Path

February 25 Morning
Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.--JAS. 4:7. When the enemy shall come in like a flood, the Spirit of the Lord shall lift up a standard against him.--Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve. Then the devil leaveth him, and, behold, angels came and ministered unto him. Be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.--And
Anonymous—Daily Light on the Daily Path

February 24 Morning
Thus saith the Lord God, I will yet for this be enquired of.--EZEK. 36:37. Ye have not, because ye ask not. Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: for every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.--This is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask anything according to his will, he heareth us: and if we know that he hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions
Anonymous—Daily Light on the Daily Path

July 8 Evening
Shall the throne of iniquity have fellowship with thee?--PSA. 94:20. Truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ.--Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is. And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure. The prince of this world cometh, and hath nothing in me.--An high priest . . . holy, harmless, undefiled.
Anonymous—Daily Light on the Daily Path

December 23 Evening
God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son.--I JOHN 5:11. As the Father hath life in himself; so hath he given to the Son to have life in himself. As the Father raiseth up the dead, and quickeneth them; even so the Son quickeneth whom he will. I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: and whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die.--I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep. I lay
Anonymous—Daily Light on the Daily Path

Sunday after Easter
Text: First John 5, 4-12. 4 For whatsoever is begotten of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that hath overcome the world, even our faith. 5 And who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God? 6 This is he that came by water and blood, even Jesus Christ; not with the water only, but with the water and with the blood. 7 And it is the Spirit that beareth witness, because the Spirit is the truth. 8 For there are three who bear witness, the Spirit,
Martin Luther—Epistle Sermons, Vol. II

The Third Miracle in John's Gospel
'Jesus saith unto him, Rise, take up thy bed, and walk.'--JOHN v.8 This third of the miracles recorded in John's Gospel finds a place there, as it would appear, for two reasons: first, because it marks the beginning of the angry unbelief on the part of the Jewish rulers, the development of which it is one part of the purpose of this Gospel to trace; second, because it is the occasion for that great utterance of our Lord about His Sonship and His divine working as the Father also works, which occupies
Alexander Maclaren—Expositions of Holy Scripture

The Life-Giver and Judge
'But Jesus answered them, My Father worketh hitherto, and I work. 18. 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. 19. 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. 20. For the Father loveth the Son, and sheweth Him all things
Alexander Maclaren—Expositions of Holy Scripture

July the Twenty-Seventh the Work of Faith
1 JOHN v. 1-13. And so by belief I find life. I do not obtain the vitalizing air through controversy, or clamour, or idle lamentation, but by opening the window! Faith opens the door and window of the soul to the Son of God. It can be done without tears, it can be done without sensationalism. "If any man will open the door, I will come in." "And he that hath the Son hath the life." And by belief I gain my victories. "Who is he that overcometh ... but he that believeth?" It is not by flashing
John Henry Jowett—My Daily Meditation for the Circling Year

September the Twenty-Ninth the Fountain
1 JOHN v. 9-21. My Lord is "the fountain of life." "This life is in His Son." The springs are nowhere else--not in elaborate theologies, or in ethical ideals, or in literary masterpieces, or in music or art. "In Him was life." It is so easy to forget the medicinal spring amid the distractions of the fashionable spa. There are some healing waters at Scarborough, but they have been almost "crowded out" by bands and entertainments. It is possible that the secondary ministries of the Church may crowd
John Henry Jowett—My Daily Meditation for the Circling Year

Attendance on Holy Communion.
"Ye will not come to Me, that ye might have life."--John v. 40. St. John tells us in to-day's Epistle[1] that "God hath given unto us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He that hath the Son hath life, and he that hath not the Son hath not life." Yet in the text the Son Himself, our Saviour, sorrowfully and solemnly expostulates with His own brethren, "Ye will not come to Me, that ye might have life." "He came unto His own, and His own received Him not." We know from history, as a matter
John Henry Newman—Parochial and Plain Sermons, Vol. VII

Victory Over the World through Faith
"For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith."-1 John 5:4. THE discussion of this text naturally leads us to make four inquiries I. What is it to overcome the world? II. Who are they that overcome? III. Why do they overcome the world? IV. How do they do it? These are the natural questions which a serious mind would ask upon reading this text. I. What is it to overcome the world? 1. It is to get above the spirit of covetousness
Charles G. Finney—Sermons on Gospel Themes

On the Words of the Gospel, John v. 19, "The Son Can do Nothing of Himself, but what He Seeth the Father Doing. "
1. The mysteries and secrets of the kingdom of God first seek for believing men, that they may make them understanding. For faith is understanding's step; and understanding faith's attainment. [3739] This the Prophet expressly says to all who prematurely and in undue order look for understanding, and neglect faith. For he says, "Unless ye believe, ye shall not understand." [3740] Faith itself then also hath a certain light of its own in the Scriptures, in Prophecy, in the Gospel, in the Lessons of
Saint Augustine—sermons on selected lessons of the new testament

On the Words of the Gospel, John v. 2, "Now There is in Jerusalem by the Sheep Gate a Pool," Etc.
1. The lesson of the Gospel has just sounded in our ears, and made us intent to know what is the meaning of what has been read. This, I suppose, is looked for from me, this I promise, by the Lord's assistance, to explain as well as I can. For without doubt it is not without a meaning, that those miracles were done, and something they figured out to us bearing on eternal saving [3677] health. For the health of the body which was restored to this man, of how long duration was it? "For what is your
Saint Augustine—sermons on selected lessons of the new testament

Again in John v. 2, Etc. , on the Five Porches, Where Lay a Great Multitude of Impotent Folk, and of the Pool of Siloa.
1. Subjects strange neither to your ears nor hearts are now repeated: yet do they revive the affections of the hearer, and by repetition in some sort renew us: nor is it wearisome to hear what is well known already, for the words of the Lord are always sweet. The exposition of the sacred Scriptures is as the sacred Scriptures themselves: though they be well known, yet are they read to impress the remembrance of them. And so the exposition of them, though it be well known, is nevertheless to be repeated,
Saint Augustine—sermons on selected lessons of the new testament

On the Words of the Gospel, John v. 25,"Verily, Verily, I Say unto You, the Hour Cometh, and Now Is, when the Dead Shall Hear The
1. Our hope, Brethren, is not of this present time, nor of this world, nor in that happiness whereby men are blinded that forget God. This ought we above all things to know, and in a Christian heart hold fast, that we were not made Christians for the good things of the present time, but for something else which God at once promiseth, and man doth not yet comprehend. For of this good it is said, "That eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither hath it entered into the heart of man, what things God
Saint Augustine—sermons on selected lessons of the new testament

On the Words of the Gospel, John v. 31,"If I Bear Witness of Myself," Etc. ; and on the Words of the Apostle, Galatians v. 16, "Walk
1. We have heard the words of the holy Gospel; and this that the Lord Jesus saith, "If I bear witness of Myself, My witness is not true," [3814] may perplex some. How then is not the witness of the Truth true? Is it not Himself who hath said, "I am the Way, and the Truth, and the Life"? [3815] Whom then are we to believe, if we must not believe the Truth? For of a surety he is minded to believe nothing but falsehood, who does not choose to believe the truth. So then this was spoken on their principles,
Saint Augustine—sermons on selected lessons of the new testament

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