BEING MADE WHOLE
John 5:1 After this there was a feast of the Jews; and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. 2 Now there is at Jerusalem by the sheep market a pool, which is called in the Hebrew tongue Bethesda, having five porches. 3 In these lay a great multitude of impotent folk, of blind, halt, withered, waiting for the moving of the water. 4 For an angel went down at a certain season into the pool, and troubled the water: whosoever then first after the troubling of the water stepped in was made whole of whatsoever disease he had. 5 And a certain man was there, which had an infirmity thirty and eight years. 6 When Jesus saw him lie, and knew that he had been now a long time in that case, he saith unto him, Wilt thou be made whole? 7 The impotent man answered him, Sir, I have no man, when the water is troubled, to put me into the pool: but while I am coming, another steppeth down before me. 8 Jesus saith unto him, Rise, take up thy bed, and walk. 9 And immediately the man was made whole, and took up his bed, and walked: and on the same day was the sabbath. John 5:14 Afterward Jesus findeth him in the temple, and said unto him, Behold, thou art made whole: sin no more, lest a worse thing come unto thee.
The phrase “made whole” is found six times in the first fifteen verses of this chapter. This is the topic which the Holy Spirit has stamped on our passage. This then, is the present issue of faith. Therefore when the Lord seeks out this one sufferer and asks, “Wilt thou be made whole?,” he is not simply asking, “Would you like your health back?” There is far more to it than just that which is seen on the surface. For mankind always looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord, who seeth not as man seeth, looketh on the heart! (1 Sam. 16:7). Let us see what we may have revealed to us, God granting spiritual sight.
Our last article concerned the subject under the title, “Come Down,” from verses 47 and 49 of the previous chapter. But the Lord Jesus, already being God among them, determines to now cure Israel of still seeking God’s bodily presence, did not “Come Down” with the nameless nobleman. In fact our verses begin in this chapter with it stated that Jesus “went up” to Jerusalem. Even the angel of whom it was said that usually “went down,” (5:4) didn’t make it in our passage. The Lord God is absolutely sovereign! And in the exercise of that absolute sovereignty, he, like the wind, goes wherever he wills. And in the natural sight, we cannot tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth. (John 3:8). Thank the Lord for faith that evidences things not seen, so we may follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth!
And besides, not even the mightest of angels could have done this man any good, as he was afflicted of the Lord! He states himself that he was too infirm and too far from the water to get there himself. And he had “no man,” of family, or friend to get him there in time. So even if an angel stirred the water, it would have done him no good. For it was not just a matter of physical limitations. It was a matter of sin! Unlike the blind man in John chapter nine, who was not smitten for any committed sin, this man, like the woman caught in adultery, did have his sin to deal with as his problem. (Read John 9:35-38 and compare the Lord’s communion there with the blind man to our John 5:14 verse, where he chastises this infirm sinner.) And there is no person, no heavenly creature, or nothing in the entire universe who could help him with that except the Lord Jesus, and his being able and willing to shed his life’s blood on the man’s behalf! John 5:14 Afterward Jesus findeth him in the temple, and said unto him, Behold, thou art made whole: sin no more, lest a worse thing come unto thee.
And just where did the Lord go when he “went up to Jerusalem?” We know that later he went into the temple (v.14), as the good shepherd, seeking out his recently healed sheep. But that is not where he originally went. Our text tells us that he first went to the sheep market, or sheep gate. Amazing! Here is the Lamb of God gravitating to the place where the sacrificial sheep where brought into the city. If you knew for a certainty that you were later in your life to crash through the highway barriers on a hairpin curve, plunge over the cliff and die, would you travel that highway now? I imagine that would be the very last road you would ever want to be on. But even knowing that his life was given to him for death, he still went up to the sheep gate at Jerusalem! John 12:27 Now is my soul troubled; and what shall I say? Father, save me from this hour: but for this cause came I unto this hour.
But what is it about this sheep gate which intrigued him? Consider this verse: Nehemiah 3:1 Then Eliashib the high priest rose up with his brethren the priests, and they builded the sheep gate; they sanctified it, and set up the doors of it; even unto the tower of Meah they sanctified it, unto the tower of Hananeel.
Everything about the sheep gate and its being set up concerns him! It was set up by the high priest. And the Lord Jesus IS the high priest of our souls! Hebrews 3:1 Wherefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the Apostle and High Priest of our profession, Christ Jesus; 8:1 Now of the things which we have spoken this is the sum: We have such an high priest, who is set on the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens;
And that very high priest’s name whom the Lord ordained to do the physical work of building the sheep gate even reflects the true High Priest. For Eliashib means, “God will restore.” And of Christ we read, He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. (Psa. 23:3).
These priests builded the sheep gate. Christ built all things! Hebrews 3:4 For every house is builded by some man; but he that built all things is God. 11:10 For he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God.
They set up the doors of it. He IS The Door of the sheep! John 10:7 Then said Jesus unto them again, Verily, verily, I say unto you, I am the door of the sheep. 8 All that ever came before me are thieves and robbers: but the sheep did not hear them. 9 I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture.
They set all this up between two protecting towers! He has set our salvation firmly between the two ‘towers’ of his promise and his oath! And he cannot lie! Hebrews 6:17 Wherein God, willing more abundantly to shew unto the heirs of promise the immutability of his counsel, confirmed it by an oath: 18 That by two immutable things, in which it was impossible for God to lie, we might have a strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before us: 19 Which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and stedfast, and which entereth into that within the veil;
And we have two sets of hands which firmly hold that which we have had provided for us. And these are mightier than any man made towers! John 10:28 And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. 29 My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand.
Our Lord had a great affinity with the physical temple at Jerusalem. He cleansed it upon two occasions, for he saw that the religionists made it in their covetousness, fail to truly and purely represent Himself! Matt. 21:13 And said unto them, It is written, My house shall be called the house of prayer; but ye have made it a den of thieves. John 2:19 Jesus answered and said unto them, Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up. 20 Then said the Jews, Forty and six years was this temple in building, and wilt thou rear it up in three days? 21 But he spake of the temple of his body. For he IS God’s temple!
Now let us consider that question the Lord asked the one infirm man among the multitude of impotent folks lying on those five porches. Carefully listen to verse fourteen of John chapter five. John 5:14 Afterward Jesus findeth him in the temple, and said unto him, Behold, thou art made whole: sin no more, lest a worse thing come unto thee. He first confronts this sinner at the sheep gate. Now, after hiding himself from him, he confronts him in the temple. (Both of which speak of Jesus Christ as the Person of the sheep gate Door, and of the Person of the Temple of God!) And he speaks to the man from an expressed awareness of his past, as to just how this infirmity came upon him. For even through the Lord Jesus was not thirty eight years old, naturally speaking, yet he was there, as the invisible God who smote the man with this malady due to whatever sin it was that he committed!
And as the Lamb of God, who is going to have to die for this man’s sin, he brings him from the sheep gate, into the temple to enforce upon his mind and soul that He was going to have to die for those sins. He is going to be that Lamb which takes away his sin. And he is that temple of God, by which he can have worship and intercession! Therefore he presses upon the man the utter seriousness of any temptation to now use his regained physical health to return to such sin, less a more serious judgment falls upon him! It was as if the Lord was saying, “I am most serious about your sin, even to the point of enduring a most horrible death and in becoming separated from my Father! Therefore you should be most serious about your sin and its need of your separation from future temptation, than to return, like a sow, to any wallowing in that same mire!”
Therefore we can now see that the question he asked at the first, Wilt thou be made whole?, does not simply entail the recover of only his physical health. But the man knows deep down in his soul that this is the Person of God who smote him thirty eight years ealier for his rebellion and transgression! And he knew that he must now have done with such sinfulness in the fear of the Lord! 2 Corinthians 7:1 Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.
Grace is absolutely free, dear Reader! But it did not come cheap! What greater price has ever been paid for anything than the life and blood of the Incarnate Son of God? May God have mercy on us if we treat that blood with any disrespect! Hebrews 10:28 He that despised Moses’ law died without mercy under two or three witnesses: 29 Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace?
Grace is a precious and beautiful gift to the souls of fallen men. But since it is free, and since the Lord is so bountiful in his provision of his cleansing and intercession for the sinner, it tends to be taken lightly if we are not careful. We must all keep in mind that the Lord God is the Holy One! His holiness is his glory! Therefore we should abstain from the very appearance of evil. And we should do so, not just because of any punishing wrath that would break out from him, but because our love for him would not have him disrespected.
Take a moment and listen to Ezra’s prayer concerning the professing believer’s of his day failing to “sin no more, less a worse thing come upon them.” Ezra 9:13 And after all that is come upon us for our evil deeds, and for our great trespass, seeing that thou our God hast punished us less than our iniquities deserve, and hast given us such deliverance as this; 14 Should we again break thy commandments, and join in affinity with the people of these abominations? wouldest not thou be angry with us till thou hadst consumed us, so that there should be no remnant nor escaping? 15 O LORD God of Israel, thou art righteous: for we remain yet escaped, as it is this day: behold, we are before thee in our trespasses: for we cannot stand before thee because of this.
O my soul! Willful sin even tempts God against the provision of forgiveness in the redemption! Hebrews 10:26 For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins, 27 But a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries.
This man had suffered this infirmity since before Jesus was born! Before the angels sang, Glory to God in the highest to the shepherds, this man was already suffering due to his blatant disregard of God’s holiness! And he had lain at this sheep market pool with not a friend, nor family member to send him a card, or flowers. He had not a well-wisher to come by occasionally to check on him to see how he was doing. No cousin, passing through Jerusalem to observe one of the feasts of the Jews, brought him a portion of that special dish which he always enjoyed that their mama cooked the day before. So what could possibly be “a worse thing?”
Leviticus 26:23 And if ye will not be reformed by me by these things, but will walk contrary unto me; 24 Then will I also walk contrary unto you, and will punish you yet seven times for your sins. 27 And if ye will not for all this hearken unto me, but walk contrary unto me; 28 Then I will walk contrary unto you also in fury; and I, even I, will chastise you seven times for your sins. 29 And ye shall eat the flesh of your sons, and the flesh of your daughters shall ye eat. 30 And I will destroy your high places, and cut down your images, and cast your carcases upon the carcases of your idols, and my soul shall abhor you.
For what “worse thing” could there be but that we should be hated by God? May God have mercy on us all!
Bro. Gene Breed, February 27, 2014