John 5: “Great Physician”

Today as I picture the portrait of Jesus portrayed as the “Great Physician,” my heart is heavy over the loss of my Pastor, Dr. Ed Heck. I had so much respect for him as my pastor for 12 years, that even though my wife and I served on staff with him for eight of those years I never called him “Ed.”

Yesterday around 6pm Pastor went home to be with the Lord after complications due to cancer. To say I was shocked is an understatement. I still today where the “Shields Up” wristband he gave me last Thursday to remind everyone to fight along side him as he fights this disease. We never anticipated the fight would be so short. He may have lost the battle, but I can assure you, Pastor Heck won the war!

Today’s reading finds us in John 5 and the story of the sick man at the Pool of Bethesda.


John 5:5-9 (NLT) Afterward Jesus returned to Jerusalem for one of the Jewish holy days. Inside the city, near the Sheep Gate, was the pool of Bethesda, with five covered porches. Crowds of sick people—blind, lame, or paralyzed—lay on the porches. One of the men lying there had been sick for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him and knew he had been ill for a long time, he asked him, “Would you like to get well?”

“I can’t, sir,” the sick man said, “for I have no one to put me into the pool when the water bubbles up. Someone else always gets there ahead of me.”

Jesus told him, “Stand up, pick up your mat, and walk!”

Instantly, the man was healed! He rolled up his sleeping mat and began walking! But this miracle happened on the Sabbath,

Model of the Pools during the Second Temple Period

Legend said that the waters of Bethesda had supernatural healing properties. It was believed that an angel would come down periodically and stir the water of healing. The first one into the pool would receive the benefit of the healing while everyone else would have to wait for the next time the water was stirred.

The title “Bethesda” is translated “House of Mercy,” and mercy is exactly what the sick man experienced on the day he was healed by Jesus. Although the man had no idea he was going to be healed that day, he still showed up at the pool believing in its healing properties. But here’s a question to consider, what if he stayed home?

In the sick man’s mind he had at least a chance to be healed if he got into the water first, but not showing up would have guaranteed him continued sickness. Here’s the interesting thing about physicians, they can only help if you get in front of them. I’ve heard people over the years complain about aches and pains, but they refuse to go to the doctor to get relief.

The sick man in our story didn’t refuse to get help but instead showed up believing it was his best chance for healing. The truth became clear that Jesus was this mans best chance for healing.

Physical or Spiritual Healing

There’s been a debate among scholars about the exact title and meaning of the “Pools.” While many believe the place was called Beth-hesda (House of Mercy or even Grace), there are others who believe the translation is more appropriately “shame” or “disgrace” in Aramaic. This translation would shine light on Jesus’ follow up with the sick man in (v. 14) 14 But afterward Jesus found him in the Temple and told him, “Now you are well; so stop sinning, or something even worse may happen to you.” 

When we look at the stories of Jesus’ healing’s, the Spiritual healing is always the intention. Many times for Jesus, physical healing is a means to spiritual healing. Because as we will learn, it doesn’t matter how healthy you are if your soul is plagued with sickness.


Whether you’re in need of physical healing or spiritual healing, your steps are the same, you need to get in front of the Great Physician and recognize he’s the only one that can offer you true and eternal healing. The most important thing to your spiritual life today is:

Whatever you do, don’t stay home.