Session in a Sentence:
When the man who was disabled put aside his hopelessness and despair and trusted in Jesus, he was healed.
Jesus Heals a Man at Bethesda
Scripture: John 5
Series: Jesus the Healer (Gospels)
Speaker: Adam Burton
Date: June 25, 2020
In this session, we will look at the time when Jesus healed a man who had a prolonged disability and a profound sense of hopelessness and despair. Jesus demonstrated compassion and grace as He helped this man who had no one else to help him, and then He called him to faithful obedience. Jesus also revealed His identity as the Son of God through this encounter. For all those who have been healed by Jesus of their greatest ailment—the power of sin and death—the natural next step is to follow the commands of our Savior in faith and gratitude.
*Devotionals come from The Gospel Project.
Day 1: Read John 5:1-7
Jesus approached the disabled man and asked a curious question: Do you want to get well? The answer seems obvious—of course, he wanted to get well! Why else would he be lying there at the side of a pool that offered the hope of healing? Why wouldn’t the man want to get well? He didn’t respond with sarcasm but perhaps with a hint of newfound hope that finally someone—Jesus—had come along, noticed him, and would help him get in the water when it was time. Here he was, gazing longingly at the pool when the One who could make him whole stood right in front of him.
We can fixate on things that promise to bring wholeness to our lives. We may even try to get Jesus—or use Him—to help us achieve those things. Yet Jesus always stands in front of us and asks the same question: Do you want to get well? Well, do you, or do you want to remain where you are, longing for things that won’t satisfy?
What are those things in your life that distract you from the Savior and Healer who calls to you even now? Confess and repent of them now.
Voices from Church History
“When Christ came up to Jerusalem, he visited not the palaces, but the hospitals; which is an instance of his humility and condescension, and tender compassion; and an indication of his great design in coming into the world, which was to seek and save the sick and wounded.”
–Matthew Henry (1662-1714)
Day 2: Read John 5:8-15
By and large, most Jews were sticklers for keeping the Sabbath. It was a key command from the Lord (on par with circumcision) for keeping the Jews separate from the pagan peoples who surrounded them. The Pharisees and teachers of the law through the generations had drawn out a lengthy list of what constituted as “work” so they wouldn’t break God’s law and work on the Sabbath. However, their lengthy list mostly included human-invented regulations that exceeded the intent of God’s law in the first place, such as carrying a mat from one place to another.
So when the Jews saw the healed man walking with his mat, they would have been infuriated, and then even more so upon finding out that someone had told him to carry his mat! But they missed the miraculous forest for their human-centered trees. They missed that their promised Sabbath rest with healing in His wings had come in the flesh in Jesus.
What are some laws or expectations that you are living up to in your own strength instead of obeying Jesus’ commands by faith?
Day 3: Read John 5:16-23
“What do you do with Jesus?” It is easy in the world today, maybe even expected to a degree, to believe in God, or a god. Some people are atheists, but most people hold some form of religious belief structure in which God or a higher power figure prominently. So, when talking to most people about matters of faith, most will probably say they believe in God and that things are good between them.
But what if you asked these same people, “What do you do with Jesus?” You may get any of the following responses: “He was a great man”; “He was a good teacher”; “He was a martyr for His message of love and grace”; “He was a crazy man”; “He was the figment of some people’s imagination”; “He is the Son of God, the Savior of the world.” According to Jesus Himself, what you do with Jesus is what you do with God. In other words, Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father except through faith in Jesus (John 14:6).
How should Jesus’ words in this passage affect the way you speak with people about God, matters of faith, and Jesus, in particular, as you share the gospel?
Day 4: Read John 5:24-30
Did Jesus preach the gospel—salvation by grace—or a salvation by works? If we just take His words in verses 28-29, we easily could come to the conclusion that Jesus determines our future state in eternity based on our good or wicked deeds. But we must remember to read these verses in context, which includes the surrounding passage but also the entire Gospel of John, and even the entire Bible.
In the immediate context, verse 24 connects eternal life with hearing the word of Jesus and believing in the God who sent Jesus. Salvation comes by faith, just as the gospel proclaims. In the larger context of John’s Gospel, Jesus answers a question posed to Him about how people can do the works of God. His answer: “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent” (John 6:29). In other words, the work of God that we must do is believe in Jesus. Works are important, but the whole of Scripture shows that good works flow out of the work of God in a heart of faith (John 3:21).
What role do good works have in your life: Are they efforts to earn God’s approval or an overflow of your heart of faith? How will you know the difference?
Day 5: Read John 5:31-47
Jesus boldly confronted the people who wanted to kill Him because of His claims about being the Son of God. He minced no words about His identity, His unity with the Father, and His centrality in the work of salvation, eternal life, and resurrection. Yet He didn’t berate His accusers. Instead, He let the Scriptures speak and indict them for their unbelief.
The Scriptures Jesus spoke of were not the New Testament but the Old Testament. He declared without hesitation that the Law, the Prophets, and the Writings testified about His person and His work (v. 39). Eternal life is not found in the Scriptures apart from their testimony to the Giver of eternal life—Jesus. Furthermore, Moses was the most influential figure of the Hebrew Scriptures; he was God’s prophet to deliver the Israelites from the Egyptians and the mediator of the law of God to the people. But for all his greatness, he too pointed to the One greater than himself (v. 46; see Deut. 18:15-19).
How do Jesus’ words challenge your understanding and perspective regarding the Old Testament?