What Do You Believe About Sin And Sickness?
Can you imagine living in a world without sickness? In such a world there would be no need for physicians, hospitals, health clinics, or nursing homes. There would be no sickness with fever, no crippling due to disease, no need for glasses and no loss of teeth. You say, you must be describing Heaven. The answer could be "yes," but actually I am describing the earth. I am describing an actual place identified in the Scriptures located upon the earth. The place is the garden of Eden before Adam and Eve sinned.
After their sinning, things changed drastically. There was a "quantum leap" from a world free of disease and death to a world plagued by disease and death of all description. The original sin ushered in a viral and bacterial invasions that began to make war against all the living. The Book of James tells us in chapter one, verse 15, "Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death." To die, many times that death must be preceded by sickness.
All sickness is a by-product of manís original sin. But all sickness, when incurred is not always a result of a particular sin. However, in I Corinthians 11:29-30 it says, "For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lordís body. For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep." The sin associated with the sickness mentioned here was not properly confessed and judged and therefore there was the chastening hand of God which resulted in sickness and finally death (I Corinthians 11:32).
There is a natural occurring of disease caused by either sinful habits or sinful lifestyles. Cirrhosis of the liver is often caused by alcohol consumption, whereas hardening of the arteries result from gluttony. Smoking can cause lung and vascular problems leading to sickness and death. There are also sexually transmitted diseases such as AIDS and different forms of venereal diseases that are the results of sinful lifestyles.
Also to be considered, there are many sickly, dying saints who have not been guilty of a particular sin or a sinful lifestyle. They have simply been called on to minister through their own personal suffering. This study is not to judge every sickness to determine for what purpose it is. Only God can ultimately do that. Yet a careful examination of our text discloses that this "certain man" had his sickness due to some sin. For thirty-eight years he suffered because of that sin, and after he was healed he was warned to "sin no more, lest a worse thing come unto thee" (v. 14). As we look at this man and his malady, may we observe, "the place that the sick man was found."
I. THE PLACE THAT THE SICK MAN WAS FOUND. vv. 1-6
While the Jews were piously observing their religious festivities, the certain man of our text was pitifully passing time in hopes of some measure of deliverance from his awful dilemma. Yet for thirty-eight years nothing had happened. The place where the man lay was a place of shelter for those who were sick. It also was a place of on-going suffering of the sick.
This pool was called in the Hebrew tongue Bethesda which means "house of mercy." This pool had five porches. As a student of the Scriptures, I could not help but notice the typology of the text. The number five in Bible hermeneutics speaks of Godís grace or of His goodness. The pool was called "mercy" and borrowing from that beloved pastoral, the twenty-third Psalm, the last verse says, "Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me of the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever." As pathetic and miserable as this person must have been, after having suffered for thirty-eight years, he was still under the providential watch care of Godís "goodness and mercy." Regardless of how wicked we may find ourselves to be, and how miserable in that state of wickedness we may be, we cannot escape the goodness and mercy of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
The poor miserable creature that lay in hopes of moving himself to the "moving waters" was enjoined by those who were described as "impotent folk, blind, halt, and withered." Again in the study of numbers, the number four is the world or creation number. There are four seasons: Spring, Summer, Fall and Winter. There are four directions,: North, South, East and West.
The typical message here is that there are four listed groups. These four groups represent all people of the world in their "sin-sickened" state. All are needy. The Lord Jesus visited one of these souls in his desperate need. The Scriptures tells us that it was a "certain man" that He was after. God is a God of certainties. He refers to certain men and things throughout the gospels. Just as their was a certain man here who was a benefactor of the goodness and mercy there was also in Luke a "certain rich man" who rejected Godís grace and mercy lifting "up his eyes, being in torments" (Luke 16).
This certain man had laid by the pool with false hope in thinking that someday he would be able to slip into the pool and find healing. Typically, the pool represents what the law could do. The only problem was that he was unable to obtain and meet the requirements of the law. He may have gotten very close to the healing pool, but he always seemed to come up short. Many today are like that man in that they are trying to achieve the righteousness of God by their own efforts, yet miserably fall short. Romans 3:23 says, "For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God."
II. THE PROBLEM THAT THE MAN HAD vv. 6-13
The pool may have been inches away, but for his personal healing it just as well have been miles. The certain man admitted to Jesus two problems. The Lord asked, "Wilt thou be made whole?" The man not recognizing that Jesus could heal him said sadly, "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."
Can you imagine his patience, but with frustration, in such a dilemma? In answering thusly, he was admitting his total inadequacy to heal or help himself in any fashion. When a person Spiritually comes to the place that he knows that he cannot save himself, he then is in position to trust the One who can.
Satan the deceiver will continue to "move the waters" giving you false hope while at the same time watching you struggle. Even if the waters at Bethesda had healing value, for this man they just as well not. For he in thirty-eight years could never get there. He needed someone that really could help him. It was Jesus who said, "Rise, take up thy bed, and walk" (v. 8).
This may who had lain in weakness because of his wickedness has now been raised and healed. John 5:8 says, "And immediately the man was made whole, and took up his bed, and walked: and on the same day was the sabbath." A great miracle took place. This man immediately was cured and was just as quickly criticized. The "religious crowd," the Jews, accused him and Jesus of violating the Sabbath. They religiously had become a law unto themselves. In this spirit of the law there was no rejoicing, there was only requiring.
Similarly, when a person comes to the Lord you would think that the world would be rejoicing. Yet "men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil" (John 3:19). The light exposes and condemns, the people become uncomfortable around new converts. The same person is now saved who once condoned and enjoyed their wicked and worldly lifestyle. What a difference Christ makes.
Before the man was healed, in strength he was powerless and in hope he was pitiful. After his healing he was walking and worshipping. The Lord found him in the temple. There He gave him a protective warning.
III. THE PROTECTION THAT THE WELL MAN WAS OF- FERED vv, 14-16
For a staggering thirty-eight years this impotent man had opportunity to think about and rehearse his reason for being in his weakened state. We can only speculate as to what sin he committed that caused him to be where he was. Through the outreach of our church nursing home ministries we are often brought into contact with people who suffer different debilitating injuries that confine them to the bed or wheelchair for the remainder of their natural lives. One person in particular received a spinal injury because of a gang fight. As a result of this injury his wife left him. He was removed from close contact with his friends, and left by himself in a depressing, lonely state.
When we first met this person there was much bitterness in association with his injuries. Yet Godís mercy and grace appeared as Steve led him to Christ.
The certain man in our text could have been where he was for similar reasons. People today are often paralyzed or even die by consuming a deadly drug cocktail in hopes of experiencing some degree of high.
When the Lord approached him in the temple He said, "Behold, thou are made whole: sin no more, lest a worse thing come unto thee" (v. 14).
It was as though the Lord was showing surprise at the impotent man being whole; such is not the case. Here is what I believed happened. When Jesus saw him in his weakened condition he told the man to, "Rise, take up thy bed, and walk." The man did just that, but because of the multitude Jesus had to "convey himself away" and did not get to converse with the man that He had healed (v. 13).
This is the reason that the man did not even know who had healed him until he met Jesus later in the temple. Jesus found him in the temple and said, "Behold, thou art made whole: sin no more, lest a worse thing come unto thee." This verse gives evidence that the reason for his condition was "sin."
Now He is telling the man to not sin again lest something worse happens. That warning statement must have "shook him in his boots." He must have been thinking, "No! Never do I again want to experience what I have just experienced." Every time he thought of the possibility of that being the case, he must have shuddered.
As sad as it is many today pretend that there are no consequences for sinning. Yet there are consequences for sinning.The Bible tells us in Hebrews 12:6, "For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth." Verse 11 says, "Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby." As difficult as the chastening may seem, it is wonderful that God cares enough for us to minister His discipline upon us.
Hebrews 10:26-27 reminds us of the severity of sinning against God: "For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins. But a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries."
Godís mercy and grace is wonderful; His forgiveness is precious, may we be challenged not to invite sickness because of sinning. If we have been delivered may we not go back lest He visits us again with something worse!
Dr. Max Alderman