The Great Physician

Part one of Two

On the eastern side of Jerusalem just north of the temple mount near the old Roman fortress Antonia, was the pool of Bethesda. The pool was where Jesus performed the healing miracle for a man who had been an invalid for 38 years [1].

John 5:3 declares that “Here a great number of disabled people used to lie – the blind, the lame, the paralyzed.” During the time of Jesus, the pool set outside the walls of the city and some believe that they used it for a Jewish Mikveh [2].

Today, many believers metaphorically sit at the pool of Bethesda waiting for the movement of the water and in hopes of getting help down into the pool. The crippled man of John five made the same mistake that many of us make today. Let’s read the exchange of John 5:6-8 and see if we can unpack what the passage is trying to tell us.

v6 When Jesus saw him lying there and learned that he had been in this condition for a long time, He asked him, “Do you want to get well?”
v7 “Sir,” the invalid replied, “I have no one to help me into the pool when the water is stirred. While I am trying to get in, someone else goes down ahead of me.”
v8 Then Jesus said to him, “Get up! Pick up your mat and walk.” [John 5:6-8 NIV]

This man was looking for a healing and was looking for 38 years. Why are people so quick to look to others, believe a doctor [3], and yet not the spoken words of Christ [4]? What is the reason? Like the invalid in John five, many today first look to their flesh when confronted with a crisis albeit a health issue or just an obstacle, hindrance, or road block in their way.

The problem? They only think in terms of the flesh. It’s the wrong focus. We measure things against our own strength [5]. Is it an unconscious decision or fear that makes us seek first a doctor or the man of God, instead of seeking the God of man by seeking first the Kingdom of God [6]? In defense of man though, physical survival is a strong emotion.

In all reality is it wrong to seek out a doctor when there is something physically wrong with us and we need surgery or care [7]? Good heavens, no [8]. It would literally be stupid or at the very least not prudent at all not to seek a doctor if needed [9].

However, there are many churches today that advocate prayer over any surgery or health services of any kind [10]. That is flat wrong. It is wrong not to seek a doctor’s care or surgery if we need surgery or healthcare. Further, it is actually not scriptural [11]. We forget that God made physicians and gave us doctors as a gift.

However, we can do all things through Jesus Christ who strengthens us [12].  Christ should be our first line of defense, through our thoughts, and prayers [13]. We take everything to the Lord in prayer for He loves us [14]. All it took for the cripple’s healing was to trust and obey Jesus – the result of faith. What is your need today?

The world plays a big part in our attitude and how we prioritize our own thinking and whether we even present the Gospel or not. There is a war and horrendous persecution against all of Christianity in this hour [15], even to the point of death. Our fear did not catch the Lord off guard as the Bible prophesied this thousands of years ago.

As Christians, we have lost sight of who we are in Christ, who Christ is in us, and have lost sight of our perception of what God thinks of us, and we filter all this through the guilt, shame, and regret of our disobedience. What is John 5:2-9 really about? Next week, we will explore this and finish unpacking this passage with part two of the Great Physician. You might be surprised.
[1] John 5:5
[2] Mikveh: a ceremonial bathing especially required for a betrothed bride. Law also required that she present a certificate of compliance for the Mikveh.
[3] Could also be a friend, a family member, or a pastor.
[4] James 4:2; 5:13; Isaiah 55:8, 9; Psalms 145:8, 9; James 1:5
[5] Exodus 15:2
[6] Matthew 6:33
[7] Proverbs 15:22; Proverbs 11:14;
[8] 2 Chronicles 16:12 Even when visiting a doctor, our ultimate faith is to be in God, not the doctor.
[9] God or His Word does not condemn earthly remedies.
[10] Christian Science and Jehovah Witnesses just to name two mainline denominations. A couple others are Church of the First Born, End Time Ministries, Faith Assembly, Full Gospel Deliverance Church, Faith Tabernacle Congregation, and others.
[11] Mark 5:25-30; Matthew 9:12; Isaiah 1:6; James 5:14 Luke 10:34; Ezekiel 47:12; 1 Timothy 5:23; Jeremiah 8:22; Colossians 4:14
[12] Philippians 4:13
[13] Matthew 6:33
[14] Philippians 4:6
[15] Matthew 24:21; Matthew 24:9; 2 Timothy 3; Revelation 13:7


In the year 1600, Shakespeare wrote a famous play that has become synonymous with his name. In act one scene three of Hamlet, Polonius is giving his son Laertes some fatherly advice before he leaves for Paris. At the end of his laundry list of self-absorbed rambling, Polonius caps it all off with, “This above all: to thine own self be true. . .” Shakespeare’s audience would have understood that someone who is not true to himself would be false, or in contemporary language, “Whoever is not true to self, is a phony.”

On the surface, one of the biggest hindrances to being our own person today is peer pressure. We all want to be part of the crowd, to be one of the group, or to be in the click. Because of this we listen to others and like puppets, we conform to what they want to see as opposed to being who and what we want to be. To be in the click, we need to dress a certain way, eat a certain way, drive a certain of car, believe a certain way, have a prestigious job, and etc. Most of us don’t even take the time to figure out whether we even like all that stuff or not. The Bible says:

And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God [Romans 12:2 KJV].

To be part of the crowd many people act out of character, trying to be something they are not [1]. On the other hand the Bible tells us that being ourselves is sinful [2]. We are not to walk in the flesh but to walk by the Spirit [3]. Proverbs 1:10 says, “My son, if sinners entice thee, consent not.” Never compare yourself to other people because God wonderfully made you [4].

So. . .to be (self) or not to be (self), that is the question. Whether tis nobler in the mind to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune. . .

If we Christians want to be ourselves, then be our self (IN CHRIST). We want to emulate Christ, not ourselves [5]. Don’t be ourself. . .be like Christ. We might be the only Bible someone sees.

[1] 2 Corinthians 5:17 Don’t try to fit in with the ungodly
[2] Romans 3:23 Be unashamed of Christ: If you have to act or be a certain way just be part of the click, they shouldn’t be your friends.
[3] Galatians 5:16
[4] Psalms 139:14
[5] Jeremiah 17:9, Therefore, imitate Christ, 1 Corinthians 11:1