The Physician Sermon By Charles Spurgeon
As we’ve already seen, on this occasion, our Lord walked, forgotten and neglected, through that throng of afflicted people. No one cried, Jesus, thou Son of David, have mercy on me (Luke 18:38).
No struggling woman reached out to touch the hem of his garment, so she might be made whole. And, behold, a woman who was diseased with an issue of blood twelve years came behind him and touched the hem of his garment; for she said within herself, If I may but touch his garment, I shall be free (Matthew 9:20-21).
All of those who lingered at the pool desired to be healed, but either no one knew or no one trusted Jesus. What a strange, soul-sickening sight it must have been, because Jesus was quite able and willing to heal, and to do it all without fee or reward. Yet, none sought him.
Is this same scene going to be repeated today? Jesus Christ is able to save you.
There is no heart so hard that he can’t soften it, and there is no man among you so lost that Jesus can’t save him.
Blessed be my dear Master, no case ever defeated him. His mighty power reaches beyond all the depths of human sin and foolishness. If there’s a harlot, Christ can cleanse her.
If there’s a drunkard or a thief, the blood of Jesus can make him white as snow. If you have any desire towards him, you haven’t gone beyond the reach of his pierced hand. If you aren’t saved, it’s certainly not because of a lack of power in the Savior.
In addition to all these things, your poverty isn’t a hindrance either, because the Master asks nothing from you – the poorer the wretch, the more he’s welcome to Christ.
My Master isn’t a covetous priest who demands pay for what he does. He freely forgives us. He wants none of your merits, nothing at all from you. Come to him as you are, because he’s willing to receive you just as you are. But here’s my sorrow and complaint, that the blessed Lord Jesus, though present to heal, received no attention from most of the men. They looked another way and had no eyes for him.
Yet, Jesus was not angry. I don’t find anywhere that he scolded a single one of those who lay in the porches of Bethesda or that he even thought harshly of them.
But I’m sure he pitied them and said in his heart, “Poor souls, they don’t even know when mercy is so near!” I’m only the Lord’s poor servant, but I pity, from my inmost heart, those of you who live without Christ. I should weep for you who are trying other ways of salvation, because they will all end in disappointment, and if continued in, will prove to be your eternal destruction.
Observe very carefully what the Savior did. He looked around the whole multitude and made an election. He had a right to make whatever choice he pleased, and he exercised that sovereign prerogative.
The Lord isn’t bound to give his mercy to every single one or to any specific one. He has freely proclaimed it to you all, but as you reject it, he now has a double right to bless his chosen ones by making them willing in the day of his power. The Savior selected that man out of the great multitude. We don’t know why, but certainly his reason was founded in grace.
If we ventured to give a reason for his choice, he may have selected him because his was the worst case, and he had waited the longest of all. Everyone spoke of this man’s case. They said, “This man has been there for thirty-eight years.”
Our Lord acted according to his own eternal purpose and did as he pleased with his own. He fixed the eye of his electing love on that one man, and, going up to him, he gazed upon him. He knew all his history.
He knew that he had been a long time in that condition, and he pitied him. He thought of all the dreary months and years of painful disappointment which the man had suffered, and tears were in the Master’s eyes. He looked and looked again at that man, and he yearned to heal him.
Now, I don’t know whom Christ intends to save today by his powerful grace. I am bound to present a general appeal, which is all I can do. I shouldn’t be surprised if he calls some of you who have been waiting long.
I will bless his name if he does. I shouldn’t be shocked if Jesus looks on some of you who never looked on him – until his look makes you look, and his pity makes you have pity on yourselves, and his irresistible grace makes you come to him so that you may be saved.
Jesus performed an act of sovereign, distinguishing grace. I pray you don’t kick against this doctrine. If you do, I can’t help it, because it’s true. I have proclaimed the gospel to every one of you as freely as man can do it.
Surely, you who reject it shouldn’t quarrel with God for bestowing on others that which you don’t care to receive. If you desire his mercy, he will not deny it to you. If you seek him, he will be found by you. But if you refuse to seek mercy, don’t criticize the Lord if he bestows it upon others.
Once Jesus singled out this man, he said to him, Dost thou desire to be made whole? I’ve already hinted that Christ didn’t ask this because he wanted information. He wished to arouse the man’s attention. It was the Sabbath, and the man wasn’t thinking about being cured.
To the Jew, it seemed a very unlikely thing that cures would take place on a Sabbath day. So Jesus brought his full attention back to the matter at hand, because the work of grace is a work upon a conscious mind, not upon senseless matter.
Some pretend to regenerate unreasoning children by sprinkling their faces with water, but Jesus never attempted such a thing. Jesus saves men who have the use of their senses, and his salvation is a work upon motivated intellect and awakened affections.
Jesus brought back the man’s wandering mind with the question, Dost thou desire to be made whole?
“Indeed,” the man might have said, “I desire it above all things. I long for it. I pant for it.”
Now, I will ask you the same question. Dost thou desire to be made whole? Do you desire to be saved? Do you know what being saved is?
“Oh,” you say, “it’s escaping from hell.” No, no, no, that’s the result of being saved, but being saved is a different thing.
Do you want to be saved from the power of sin? Do you desire to be saved from being covetous, worldly minded, bad-tempered, unfair, ungodly, controlling, drunken, or profane? Are you willing to give up the sin that is dearest to you?
“No,” says one, “I can’t honestly say I desire all that.” Then you aren’t the man I’m talking to.
I’m talking to the one who says, “Yes, I long to be rid of sin, root and branch. I desire, by God’s grace, this very day to become a Christian and to be saved from sin.”
Well, since you’re already in a state of thoughtfulness, let’s go a step further and observe what the Savior did. He gave the command, saying, Rise, take up thy bed, and walk. The power by which the man arose was not in himself, but in Jesus. It wasn’t the mere sound of the word which made him rise, but it was the divine power which went with it.
I do believe that Jesus still speaks through his ministers. I trust that he speaks through me at this moment, when in his name I say to you who have been waiting at the pool, wait no longer, but believe in Jesus Christ this very moment! Trust him now. I know that my words won’t make you do it, but if the Holy Spirit works through the words, you will believe.
Trust Christ now, poor sinner. Believe that he is able to save you. Believe it now! Rely upon him to save you this moment. Rest in him now! If you are enabled to believe, the power will come from him, not from you.
Your salvation will be accomplished, not by the sound of the word, but by the secret power of the Holy Spirit which goes with that word.
Although nothing is said about faith in the text, this man must have had faith. Suppose you had been unable to move your hands or feet for thirty-eight years, and someone said at your bedside, “Rise.”
You wouldn’t even think of trying to rise, because you would know it to be impossible. You would have to have faith in the person who spoke the word, or you wouldn’t make the attempt.
I think I can picture the poor man. There he is, a heap, a writhing bundle of tortured nerves and powerless muscles, yet Jesus says, Rise, and up he rises in a moment. Take up thy bed, says the Master, and the bed is carried. Here we see the man’s faith.
The man was a Jew, and he knew that, according to the Pharisees, it would be a very wicked thing for him to roll up his mattress and carry it on the Sabbath.
But because Jesus told him to, he asked no questions. He bundled up his bed and walked. He did what he was told to do, because he believed in him who spoke.
Do you have this type of faith in Jesus, poor sinner? Do you believe that Christ can save you? If you do, then I say to you in his name, trust him now! If you trust Jesus, you will be saved – saved on the spot and saved forever.
The cure which Christ worked was perfect. The man could carry his bed. The restoration was proven by a demonstration, and the cure was evident to all.
Also, the cure was immediate. He wasn’t told to take a lump of figs, put it on the sore, and wait.
He wasn’t carried home by his friends, laid up for a month or two, and gradually nursed back to health. No, he was cured then and there.
Half of our professing Christians think that regeneration can’t take place in a moment. So they instruct poor sinners, “Go and lie at Bethesda’s pool. Wait comfortably in your religious rituals. Humble yourself. Seek for deeper repentance.”
Do away with such teaching! The cross, the cross, the cross – there hangs a sinner’s hope! You must not rely on what you can do, nor on what angels can do, nor on visions and dreams, nor on feelings and strange emotions, or horrible hallucinations.
You must rest in the blood of my Master and my God, slain for sinners. There is life when you look to the Crucified One, and there is life nowhere else. I come to the same point once again. The Lord says, Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth.
Charles Haddon Spurgeon was an English Baptist pastor. He is still known to people as the Prince of Preachers. Charles Spurgeon throughout his life evangelized about 10 million people and often preached 10 times a week in different places.