John 5:2-9 “Now there is in Jerusalem by the Sheep Gate a pool, which is called in Hebrew, Bethesda, having five porches. 3 In these lay a great multitude of sick people, blind, lame, paralyzed, waiting for the moving of the water. 4 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. 5 Now a certain man was there who had an infirmity thirty-eight years. 6 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?’ 7 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.’ 8 Jesus said to him, ‘Rise, take up your bed and walk.’ 9 And immediately the man was made well, took up his bed, and walked. And that day was the Sabbath.”
The book of John talks about the Pool of Bethesda. There are all sorts of sick folk. Artists have depicted this scene as beautiful, but the reality is it wasn’t at all. This was a pool by the sheep market, used for washing the sheep and getting them ready for sale. It was gross and stinky. Stuff probably floated in the water. Nobody wanted to hang out there.
The Bible doesn’t say the angel actually came. It may have been only a superstition. The people had faith that it would happen. Often the people outside of the church exercise greater faith than those inside the church. Everyone has been given a measure of faith.
How have your preconceived ideas been different from reality? What are you superstitious about? What or who is your faith in?
You don’t need some beautiful place for God to show His mercy. Sometimes, it is the worst places that we see the greatest mercies. If you want to see the mercy of God truly at work, you’d better get comfortable in some uncomfortable places. God will meet us there and make us perfect in our weakness.
You can find grace in a prison cell. Give it to God. Mercy leads you where God wants you to be. You don’t have to be worthy. Where sin does abound, grace does much more abound.
Some of the worst filth sits in our churches. It’s not the people, it’s the worst sins, the worst attitudes. It’s not about the nice places or the nice clothes. We go to church because we need Jesus.
God wants to reach the world, but first He wants to reach the church. He wants to save the world, but first He wants to save the church. Your blessing is here. The fact that you come week in and week out is grace in itself. Your drive doesn’t come from yourself. God gives you that drive. God has opened your eyes. You go to church because God calls you to church. God chose you. He has ordered your steps. He has put grace and mercy into your life. Mercy causes you to get up, knowing you are imperfect, but still an apostolic believer. You’re a believer. It is mercy!
Minus mercy, sick folk will never get better hanging out with sick folk. That’s why we can say forsake those old relationships and attitudes that cause you to be dragged down. Go to church and hang out with folks that struggle with the same stuff. It’s mercy that makes this work.
How has God shown His mercy in the worst times of your life? How has God led you to show mercy to others? What friends have you had to give up in order to get rid of bad habits and/or sin in your life?
Jesus gave the man the choice, ‘Wilt thou be made whole?’ ‘Do you want to be healed?’
It’s not a physical manifestation that will change the way you live in your spirit. Don’t wait for some confirmation. It’s already in the Word, the Bible. The Word is enough. God is calling this church to something deeper. It ain’t going to happen if something happens. No, it’s mercy that keeps this going. You can’t reach this world because of you, it’s only through mercy.
You can’t do this on your own strength. It’s mercy. You need the hand of God. You’re not perfect and you’re never going to be. Stop using your faults as a crutch. You’re not perfect, but do you walk in mercy? If you walk in mercy, your imperfections won’t stop you. Your flaws will not stop mercy, but you must walk in mercy. Mercy keeps you and propels you and drives you and forgives you and cleanses you and uses you and illuminates you.
Quit trying to be perfect. Walk after mercy and it will all fall into place. You can’t help but melt at the forgiveness of God. When you know you’re flawed and have issues, but you still experience God’s Spirit, His mercy wraps His arms around you. Stop making a list for soul-winning or being holy. Just walk in mercy.
How have you tried to live up to an impossible goal (being perfect)? What does the Bible have to say about our weaknesses? How does walking in God’s mercy change the way you look at your faults and imperfections? What is the role of personal responsibility in this?
Don’t get rid of the list, but don’t beat yourself up every time you mess up. There’s mercy. Those failures teach you to walk in mercy. How would you know what grace abounding looks like if sin never tried to abound?
It’s not about complacency. Pursue mercy. God, I’m flawed, but You need me. He wouldn’t have left you here if He didn’t need you. He has called you. He could’ve used somebody else besides Esther, but He called Esther.
I don’t want God to call somebody else. I want mercy. Don’t be afraid to allow God to touch you, to forgive you, to cleanse you, to use you. God’s mercy will drive you to do great things for Him.
You can’t do powerful exploits without Him. It’s not by might or by power, but by His Spirit, says the Lord. The Spirit of the Lord is God. It’s not about jumping or by shouting. It’s by God’s nature, character, Person that things happen. It’s by Who He is that you will be able to do anything in the first place. It’s not because of some energy that flows around the church. It’s because of Who He is.
Mercy and Love and Forgiveness are the center of Who Jesus is, the reason He came to seek and to save the lost.
It’s not about what you do. It’s not about you stirring it up enough, it’s about hiding yourself in His character and characteristics and Who He is and being hidden in Mercy, then the work will get done.
You can’t see you if you’re hidden!
What does hiding in His mercy look like? How do you walk in His mercy every day, day in, day out? How does this truth play out in your life?
Don’t operate in ‘if God will fix this, then…’ NO! Hide in mercy! God will put things in you and do great things in your life, but there are things that God is not going to fix.
Jesus asked, ‘Do you want to be healed?’ What was the guy’s answer? He had no idea Who Jesus was. People look for miracles, but not for Jesus. Don’t desire blessing if it doesn’t come with Jesus. The people weren’t looking for the Messiah, they were looking for something that would fix them, not for an opportunity to serve Him.
Sometimes, you’re talking to God and don’t realize it’s Him because you’re looking for something else, some natural way to fix your problems. So, when God shows up, you don’t recognize Him. It’s not till after that you realize Who showed up.
Some people aren’t looking for God, but they still have God walking into their lives ready to give a solution. God in His mercy does it anyway, just like with this man. He isn’t just ‘sir,’ He is Master, Teacher. Recognize Him. Recognize the presence before the miracle.
Jesus is here, do you recognize Him? Is He your Master? Are you looking for opportunities to spend time with Jesus and just be with Him and serve Him? Or are you looking for a ‘quick fix’ for your problems? Why is it so hard to trust Him in the midst of problems?
Jesus looked at him and said, ‘Rise, take up your bed and walk.’ Why take up the bed? If he isn’t sick anymore, why did he need it anymore? It’s because so many have God do a mighty miracle and don’t burn their bridge. Healing or not, strengthened legs or not, brand new legs will get tired. He’d never done it before.
You are experiencing mercy and grace. You will realize that the pastor and people aren’t perfect. You will get tired, that fire will start to dim. You go from, ‘It’s Sunday, let’s go to church!’ to ‘That takes the whole afternoon.’ The legs will get tired and the bed is still there, why not lay down? You need to get rid of that thing!
Jesus didn’t say, ‘Keep it.’ He said, ‘Take it.’ He didn’t want him to leave it where it was for the man to come back to. The healing was done when He said, ‘Rise.’ But, the healing stayed when he took up his bed.
How many times have you had something wrong in your life and then it was gone, but you picked it back up? Why?
Imagine the compassion of Jesus, knowing what you know now, the mercy of God. Jesus walked through that crowd at Bethesda. Jesus had His eyes fixed on that one man, but He walked right past the others. He stepped over them. Nobody else got healed as He walked to the man who didn’t deserve anything.
There will be times when you come to church when it’s not your day of healing. It’s your day of continuance, you add another stone to the pillar. Jesus will pass by people He loves and adores to get to the one man. Don’t think that because that Jesus walked past them they didn’t have a purpose. They were supposed to be there. Sometimes, it’s just your time to gather, but one day it will be your turn.
If it’s just one that God is here for today, you don’t know that the prayers of the body together in faith are what cause that moment to come to pass. His moment might not come to pass without you.
How do you continue to trust God in spite of the fact that you haven’t received your miracle yet? What does that look like? Do you choose to walk in His mercy in spite of your circumstances?
This Bible Study excerpted from a sermon preached by Pastor Joe Giunta.
For the full YouTube audio/video, click here.
If you are looking for an Apostolic Pentecostal church and are in the Chicagoland area, come check out The Life Church located at 3030 Central Road in Glenview, IL. Services are Sundays at 1pm and Wednesdays at 7pm. We would love to see you there!