“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 5:1-9).
In John 5 the story is told of a man who was very lonely. Despite multitudes of people swirling around him on a daily basis, the man was alone. They were too busy looking out for Number One, themselves.
He was a sick man, and had been sick for a long time. His affliction was debilitating, for we read he was impotent.
He was a hopeful man, for he lay beside a body of water hoping that someday he would be the first to step into a pool of water believed to have healing power.
He was a patient man, for he sat beside the pool for thirty-eight years waiting for someone to help put him into the pool of water that might cure him.
Like the man by the waters of the Sheep Market pool, there are lonely people today. Many movies have been made over the years about loneliness. Some have been comedic in order to alleviate the seriousness of the situation such as Home Alone. Songs have been written about the subject. Roy Orbison used to sing a song, Only the Lonely. People are lonely.
Even within a family people can be lonely. Why? Because the heart is lonely for God. There is a vacuum in the heart which only God can fill. St. Augustine said, “Thou hast made us for thyself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it finds its rest in thee.”
The man at the Pool of Bethesda was lonely. One day, in the providence of God, the man was able to tell Jesus of Nazareth about his loneliness, for Jesus was passing by, and then, He stopped. Jesus saw the impotent man. He saw him in his desperate condition. Jesus saw him in his hopelessness and despair. He saw him in his loneliness.
Jesus sees you and me in our loneliness. A romance breaks up. A job is lost. A child leaves home. There is the sudden death of a loved one, and we feel all alone. We need a Friend.
When General Dwight D. Eisenhower was baptized, after he had become President of the United States, he was baptized in a Presbyterian Church, he was asked what his favorite hymn was. He said, “What A Friend We Have in Jesus.” He needed a friend.
Christ can be your friend. You may be living alone in an apartment. You may be the only Christian on your job. You may be in a hospital bed somewhere with a prolonged sickness. You may feel all alone despite being married. You are not alone. There is a cosmic loneliness. To those who are lonely the gospel comes to say, “Christ can be your Friend.”
Christ will be the best of Friends, for He will never leave you nor forsake you. A friend loves at all times (Prov. 17:17).
Christ will be an intimate Friend as He reveals the secrets of His heart. “Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you” (John 15:15).
Christ will be a loving Friend. “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13).
Christ will be a helpful Friend. “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matt. 11:28).
Christ will be an encouraging Friend. Jesus said, “I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: 26And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this?” (John 11:25, 26)
Christ will be a Savior Friend. “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom. 5:8).
Christ will be an Inviting Friend. “Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse [your] hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded” (James 4:8).
May Christ become your Friend, and dwell at home in your heart by faith (Eph. 5:19).
When Jesus saw the man lying beside the pool, 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” (John 5:6, 7).
It was a tragic story the man had to tell, but he told it to the right Person. The man was finally talking to Someone who could help him.
What the man did not know was that this conversation was no mere accident. This was not a chance meeting. No, Jesus saw the man and singled the man out. The man was singled out because Jesus knew everything about him. Jesus knew the man had been there a long time. Jesus knew the man had waited for many years to be healed. Jesus knew that the man was a going to receive grace, mercy, and healing, because he had been chosen by God.
In like manner, Jesus saw you and me in our sickness called sin. We were sick for a very long time. We were in a hopeless condition. There was no one that could help us. Then one day Jesus came into our lives. He cast an eye of love upon us. He had pity, and was moved to compassion. Jesus asked, “Do you want to be healed?” “Our hearts leaped with joy. Hope revived. Illuminated by the Word, regenerated by the Holy Ghost we said, “Yes, we do want to be healed of the curse of sin and death.” We were healed.
Jesus healed him, the man by the pool of Bethesda. He healed him that very day. Jesus healed his body, and he healed his soul as well.
One day Jesus shall heal all suffering, spiritual and physical. There is the suffering of sin. There is the suffering of sickness. There is the suffering of sorrow. There is the suffering of loneliness. “And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away” (Rev. 21:4). We will be in the presence of Christ forever. Believe this, and be lonely no more.
There are two basic causes for loneliness: the feeling that we do not belong, and the belief that no one understands us.
Jesus does. Jesus tells us that we can be part of the family of God by faith in Him. “But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name” (John 1:12). You can belong to God who understands you perfectly, for the Creator knows His creation, and has good thoughts towards you.
“I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well. 15 My substance was not hid from thee, when I was made in secret, and curiously wrought in the lowest parts of the earth. 16 Thine eyes did see my substance, yet being unperfect; and in thy book all my members were written, which in continuance were fashioned, when as yet there was none of them. 17 How precious also are thy thoughts unto me, O God! how great is the sum of them!” (Psalm 139:14-17).
There are people who do not know why they are lonely, but it is because they are isolated from God. The isolation began when man cut himself off from God in the Garden of Eden. It continues when the way of salvation is resisted, or rejected.
Sin is the reason for isolation. Sin brings death and loss of fellowship. Sin destroys friendships, and any hope of intimacy. Until a person is right with God, they will continue to struggle to be happy at home, or find meaning in the work they do. It all seems to be without purpose, and their sense of loneness is magnified.
The gospel invitation is to come to Christ. Repent of sin. Ask Jesus to heal you, and restore you in body and soul. Jesus said unto the man by the pool of Bethesda, “Rise, take up thy bed, and walk. 9 And immediately the man was made whole” (John 5:9). Jesus will make you whole as well, as you come into His presence, and call upon Him to be your Lord, your Savior, and your Friend.