Lord, heal us and we shall be healed. Amen. (Jer 17:14)
Text: John 5:2-9, 14
Now there is in Jerusalem by the Sheep Gate a pool, which is called in Hebrew, Bethesda, having five porches. In these lay a great multitude of sick people, blind, lame, paralyzed, waiting for the moving of the water. For an angel went down at a certain time into the pool and stirred up the water; then whoever stepped in first, after the stirring of the water, was made well of whatever disease he had. Now a certain man was there who had an infirmity thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him lying there, and knew that he already had been in that condition a long time, He said to him, “Do you want to be made well?” The sick man answered Him, “Sir, I have no man to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up; but while I am coming, another steps down before me.” Jesus said to him, “Rise, take up your bed and walk.” And immediately the man was made well, took up his bed, and walked. And that day was the Sabbath. …Afterward Jesus found him in the temple, and said to him, “See, you have been made well. Sin no more, lest a worse thing come upon you.”
All Jesus’ miracles reveal His glory and strengthen our faith. But when He is a present Savior to us, then we experience His power in ourselves. What He did, He still does; when we read about the sick that He healed, we experience it. Though it is a spiritual healing, it is no less real; besides, His physical healings and cures give eternal living power to our bodies.
Our lesson can give a sincere reader much edification. You yourself must consider that this hospital is called “Bethesda” (house of mercy), which strongly reminds us of Christ’s Church. It is the Sheep Gate, where animals for sacrifices were sold. It had five porches. Outside there were many sick people. They were blind, lame, and paralyzed. It is in the water they are healed. It is an angel (one sent from God) who stirs the water. They are helped down, and so on. I will say just a word about the one sick man and Jesus. This man is obviously the most miserable of all, or at least one of the worst. Him Jesus saves. He has waited for help a long, long time; now he has almost lost all hope. He is abandoned by all. Jesus asks: “Do you want to be made well?” And thus He wakens the man’s dormant desire for healing. Why does God let some lie there sick for so long? Because they are greater and worse sinners? No, but to humble them. For some He uses sickness, for others something else. Sin and sickness go together, as we have often seen. The Lord shows us the same thing in these words: “See, you have been made well. Sin no more, lest a worse thing come upon you.” We see then that Jesus can help and really does help the worst, if only we acknowledge our sinful guilt and feel our helplessness. The Lord speaks first. He comes first; He begins, He finishes our salvation. Then when He has opened our ears, He speaks again, and in His word is life, and in it He gives us faith to receive it. Jesus’ words: “Stand up!” raised the sick man from his bed. The Word entered his heart, and made him believe that he should stand up, and then he could.
Haven’t you also experienced this? When your soul, in sin and need, heard Jesus’ words: “I save you, I take your sin; you shall inherit eternal life, stand up and walk with God,” then you received new life, stood up, and praised the Lord. Or if it has not happened, then listen now. Do you want Jesus to save you from sin and sickness and make you eternally well in soul and body? If you want this, then hear His words to you: “Rise and walk!” Obey them. Do this. You can do it by the power of the Word. “Go, and sin no more, lest a worse thing come upon you.”
Precious Savior, You are the Lord who heals me. Let me know this, until I become perfectly well in eternity. Amen.
And thus we come, O God, today
And all our woes before Thee lay;
For sorely tried, cast down, we stand,
Perplexed by fears on ev’ry hand.
Ah! hide not for our sins Thy face,
Absolve us through Thy boundless grace;
Be with us in our anguish still;
Free us at last from ev’ry ill.
That so with all our hearts we may
To Thee our glad thanksgiving pay,
Then walk obedient to Thy Word,
And now and ever praise Thee, Lord.
Eber: When in the hour of utmost need L 220:5-7 ELH 257:5-7 tr. C. Winkworth;
tune: Wenn wir in höchsten