SERIES: Jesus Loves People
MESSAGE: Jesus Loves the Broken
SPEAKER: Skip Heitzig
SCRIPTURE: John 5:1-16

Just about everyone who has ever lived has experienced a broken heart to some degree or another. But then there are others who have been affected so adversely by events in their lives that they can be described as broken people. We can respond by questioning why God allows bad things to happen or by loving the broken in His name and thus being part of the solution.


People, like objects, can get broken. Fortunately, Jesus announced that one of the main purposes of His coming was ʺto heal the brokenheartedʺ (Luke 4:18). How did Jesus help the broken? In John 5, we find a man who was broken and could not help himself, and we discover two overarching truths: people can get broken, and Jesus loves broken people. How do we as His children love the broken? How can we help them practically?

Let us first consider that people get broken (see vv. 1- 7). We are all keenly aware that we live in a world of hurting people. People can be broken by experience, abuse, abandonment, words, their own bad choices, disease, and many, many other reasons. Caution: you may not know by looking at someone whether or not they are broken. There might be people around you right now putting on a brave face but feeling desperately helpless and hopeless because they are broken and hurting.

The man in John 5 was broken by a number of things, the first of which was circumstances. We read that he ʺhad an infirmityʺ (v. 5), a debilitating illness. We are not told what his specific disease was, but he was likely either paralyzed or too weak to move freely. Illness can be very isolating, making people feel lonely because of their physical limitations and, over time, the dwindling of friends. Can you relate to this man? If so, how have your circumstances (illness, lack of work, etc.) isolated you?

This man was also broken by people (see v. 3). Ancient cultures were not good at caring for the sick. Many sick people would become beggars and congregate, as they did at this pool. They were often surrounded by people but still felt broken, cast off by a society in which very few people, if any, wanted to be involved in their lives. In your trial, how did folks hurt or help you?

The man was also broken by time. He had been dealing with this infirmity for thirty-eight years (see v. 5). Whatever hope he may have once had was long gone. The more time that goes by in such a state can result in a spiral of depression, causing a person to go from helpless to hopeless. The apostle Paul wrote of suffering ʺbeyond measure, above strength, so that we despaired even of lifeʺ (2 Corinthians 1:8). The daily pressure of depression adds up over time and can be crushing. As the psalmist said, ʺMy tears have been my food day and nightʺ (Psalm 42:3). When someone is feeling helpless or hopeless, is it better to give advice or to listen and pray? Is there a time for each?

Some respond to their brokenness with depression, anger, or substance abuse. Others will be antisocial or suicidal, and others injure themselves when emotional problems are so overwhelming they feel unable to express their anger, hurt, or shame.

Fortunately, Jesus loves broken people. Here is how: First, He observed compassionately (see v. 6a). In a huge crowd of miserable people, He saw one single human being. Although Jesus could speak to crowds and move them, He zeroed in on the one. Love begins by how we see people and their condition. How is your vision when it comes to seeing people's needs? Does your heart break over what breaks God's heart?

Jesus also interacted honestly (see vv. 6-8). He asked the man if he wanted to be made well, because a radical change in circumstances would mean a radical change in his responsibilities. Furthermore, there was a condition even worse than thirty-eight years of suffering that could befall the man—eternal suffering resulting from unrepentant sin (see v. 14). Jesus loved the broken by preaching the unbroken gospel. What would a former beggar's new responsibilities include, according to Skip? What radical change in this man's spiritual life would also have to happen (see vv. 14-15)?

Finally, Jesus expected adversity (see vv. 9-13). Love has consequences. Another caution: you might find adversity from the very people you are trying to help. An adage in the mental health community says, ʺHurt people hurt people.ʺ They seek to control others because it temporarily numbs their pain. So, pray for discernment as you minister.

An artist once noted that when the Japanese mend broken objects, they not only fix the damage, but magnify it by filling in the cracks with gold, believing that when something has been damaged, it has a history and is even more beautiful. We all have that kind of history, and only Jesus’ love can redeem us, filling in our brokenness with spiritual gold.

Adapted from Pastor Skip’s teaching

The BIG Idea
God helps those who cannot help themselves.


  1. Introduction
    1. People can get worn out, used up, and broken
    2. You know what it's like to be broken to some degree
    3. "The biggest disease today is...the feeling of being unwanted, uncared for and deserted by everybody. The greatest evil is the lack of love and charity, the terrible indifference towards one's neighbor who lives at the roadside assaulted by exploitation, corruption, poverty and disease"—Mother Teresa
    4. One of the reasons Jesus came to this earth was to heal the brokenhearted; Luke 4:18
    5. Brokenhearted speaks of rubbing against something
      1. A word used to describe kindling a fire
      2. Came to mean a person crushed or broken to pieces
    6. How do you love a broken person? How did Jesus love a broken person?
    7. "God helps those who help themselves"—Benjamin Franklin, Poor Richard's Almanack
    8. God doesn't help those who help themselves; He helps those who cannot help themselves
    9. Why is this important?
      1. "A single human being is the most beautiful, the most valuable, and potentially the most powerful thing God ever created"—Gordon MacDonald
      2. If a person gets broken, that can impede God's purpose and plan for their life
  2. People Can Get Broken
    1. No matter where you go, you'll find broken people
    2. "Life will break you. Nobody can protect you from that, and living alone won't either, for solitude will also break you with its yearning"—Louise Erdrich
    3. Proverbs 18:14
    4. You can't always see brokenness by looking at a person
    5. Broken by Circumstances
      1. An infirmity is a debilitating illness
        1. He was either paralyzed or too weak to be able to move freely
        2. Physical ailment has a way of isolating a person
      2. Possibly this man was married
        1. Disease puts pressure on the marriage relationship
        2. 75 percent of marriages where there is chronic illness end in divorce
      3. E. Stanley Jones
    6. Broken by People
      1. Ancient cultures did a lousy job of caring for the sick
      2. Great multitude of sick people
        1. 300 on a given day
        2. 3,000 at festival times
      3. Subterranean spring fed the pool
        1. People thought it was an angel
        2. Not mentioned in the most ancient manuscripts
      4. Bethesda means house of mercy, but it had become a house of misery
      5. Many broken people feel our culture doesn't do a good job taking care of them
    7. Broken by Time
      1. Time had taken its toll on the man
      2. His helplessness turned into hopelessness
      3. Time does not heal all wounds
      4. 2 Corinthians 1:8; 11:27-28
      5. Psalm 42:3
    8. How is brokenness expressed? Depression, anger, substance abuse, being antisocial, suicidal thinking, self-injury
  3. Jesus Loves Broken People
    1. How did Jesus approach this man?
    2. He Observed Compassionately
      1. Out of a crowd, Jesus zeroed in on one person
      2. He was able to speak to and move crowds, yet He was so individual
      3. Loving the broken begins by how we see the broken
        1. Matthew 9:36
        2. We need to be more farsighted; we're so nearsighted we can't see past ourselves
    3. He Interacted Honestly
      1. Verse 6: What kind of a question is that?
        1. It was appropriate
        2. A change in the man's condition and circumstances would mean a change in his responsibilities
        3. J.A. Findley: in those days, a man who was healed could lose a substantial living and have to join a very hard work force
      2. "So often people succumb to their illness, bedding down with their alcoholism or heart trouble or partial paralysis, or whatever. They become psychological and spiritual invalids, retreating within themselves, avoiding responsibilities, becoming more and more self-centered as they demand sympathy from others. So every now and then, in dealing with this kind of defeated person in the office or at a hospital bed or in a luncheon appointment, I have asked that question: Do you want to be made well?"—Roger Fredrikson
      3. Verse 14: What could be worse than thirty-eight years of being broken?
        1. Eternal suffering because of unrepentant sin
        2. Though the disease had taken the best years of his life away, unrepentant sin would take his eternity away
        3. Probably no one had ever talked to this man about his sin
        4. Why did Jesus do it? Because He loved him
      4. Loving the broken means preaching the unbroken gospel
      5. "If I weep for the body from which the soul is departed, should I not weep for the soul from which God is departed?" —Augustine
    4. He Expected Adversity
      1. Verse 13: they couldn't find Jesus because Jesus had withdrawn Himself
      2. He knew that showing this kind of love and compassion would put Him right in the bull's-eye
      3. Love has consequences
      4. One of the consequences of loving the unlovely is you'll be misunderstood
      5. Expect adversity from the very people you're trying to help
        1. Hurt people will hurt people
        2. Expect anything, but don't let that hold you back from loving the broken
  4. Closing
    1. This man had a history, and he was valuable
    2. There is a brokenness that God loves and wants
      1. Psalm 51:17
      2. He loves when we are humbly broken before Him, because we realize our inadequacies and bank on Him for compassion and forgiveness

Figures referenced: Mother Teresa, Benjamin Franklin, Gordon MacDonald, Louise Erdrich, E. Stanley Jones, J.A. Findley, Roger Fredrikson, Augustine

Hebrew words: Bethesda

Cross references: Psalm 42:3; 51:17; Proverbs 18:14; Matthew 9:36; Luke 4:18; John 5:1-16; 2 Corinthians 1:8; 11:27-28

Topic: Brokenness

Keywords: broken, brokenness, brokenhearted, love, trials, tribulation, hardship, illness, disease, sickness, depression, anger, compassion, sin, eternity

Jesus Loves the Broken - John 5:1-16 |
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