In Jn 5:1-5 during the passover, and by the pool Bethesda, there were a great multitude of impotent folk. People were literally everywhere during this feast. And yet in the midst of this chaos and multitude of impotent folk, Jesus noticed that a certain man was there. Jesus picked him out of the crowd. Read Jn 5:5-9. This certain man needed something that only Jesus could give him. He needed a man and he needed to be healed.
A Certain Man in a Crowd
We must be careful to not overlook an individual for the multitude. The multitude is made up of individuals. While Jesus had compassion on the multitude when he saw them, his real interest was the individual.
Jesus reached them as individuals. In the story of feeding the 5,000, we read about the lad who gave him the five loaves and two fishes. In Lk 19:5, in a great multitude, we read about a little man named Zacchaeus. Lk 8:43-48 tells us that in the midst of a great multitude, one woman had an issue of blood 12 years. She believed that if she could touch the hem of Jesus’ garment, she could be healed. She did and she was. When Jesus wanted to know who touched him, Peter asked, “Master, the multitude throng thee, and sayest thou, Who touched me”?
Jesus dealt with one woman at the well. Jesus dealt with one crazy, demon-possessed man in the Gadarenes. With all the was going on during the crucifixion, Jesus saved the thief on the cross.
In the multitudes around us there are many individuals. Reach the individuals. On the Seawall, among hundreds and even thousands, we met Ozzie and Rose, whom we led to the Lord that day. Auré was able to lead one young lady to the Lord who had just started reading the Bible, looking for God. Robert stopped to visit with one woman who could only speak Spanish. Someone had given her a Spanish Chick tract the day before in Laredo. Was it a coincidence that we met her the very next day?
A Certain Man With a Need
In Jn 5:6, Jesus knew this man had been a long time in that case. And according to Jn 5:14, Jesus knew that his infirmity had been connected to sin in his life. Of course, Jesus is God manifest in the flesh, so he could know these things supernaturally.
We can’t discern these things about the people with whom we visit, but we can learn them by listening to them. An old acquaintance of mine says that when we preach the gospel, we must stop their mouths, Rom 3:19. He advocates not letting them ask questions or interrupt the preaching. I think it’s better to let them reveal what’s in their heart so that we can minister the words of God to their need.
When we used to minister at West Guth Park, we hardly saw anyone come to the tent to hear us preach the gospel. But when a couple of our ladies walked around asking people if they had any prayer requests, everyone opened up. They all had needs and they wanted the Lord’s help. People wanted us to pray for their jobs, their health, their marriages, their children, and so forth. They all have needs, and Jesus can meet those needs and save their souls, as well.
The Lord met this man’s temporal need. He healed him of his infirmity. And then he dealt with his spiritual need. In Jn 5:14 he told the man to go and sin no more. The only other person to whom he said this was the woman in Jn 8.
A Certain Man With a Testimony
In Jn 5:15, after Jesus met the man in the temple, “he departed, and told the Jews that it was Jesus, which had made him whole”. This man had a testimony of something Jesus had done for him personally.
When you lead an individual in the multitude to the Lord, that person can testify to many other people. The 120 individuals in the prayer meeting after Jesus’ ascension reached the world with the gospel. The woman at the well went and told the men of the city that she had met the Messiah. Then many of them came to hear him. The man in the Gadarenes testified to his friends in Decapolis (that’s 10 cities). After the woman who touched the hem of Jesus’ garment testified, there were many who touched his hem, Matt 14:36.
One Sunday school teacher paid a visit to a shoe salesman. He led that shoe salesman to the Lord. After Jesus saved this salesman, he started telling others about Jesus and inviting many to come to church with him. God called him to preach. And in his lifetime, he led over 500,000 people to Christ. That salesman was D.L. Moody.
In our effort to get the gospel to the multitude, we must remember to be very aware that the multitude is made up of individuals. Our efforts should never be about how many doors we can knock, or how many tracts we can pass out, or other numeric measures. We must do our work like Jesus did his work. In the crowd you will find a certain man or a certain woman with whom God wants you to deal. Minister to them.