Do You Want To Get Well? John 5:1-47, 8 July 2012

Big Idea: Do you want to get well?

John 5:1-47

What do you want? Really.

Yesterday I was listening to a podcast in which the hosts reflected upon what they’d do if they won the lottery.

If you found a lamp with a genie inside, what would be your three wishes?

 Some time later, Jesus went up to Jerusalem for one of the Jewish festivals. Now there is in Jerusalem near the Sheep Gate a pool, which in Aramaic is called Bethesda and which is surrounded by five covered colonnades. Here a great number of disabled people used to lie—the blind, the lame, the paralyzed. One who was there had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him lying there and learned that he had been in this condition for a long time, he asked him, “Do you want to get well?”
“Sir,” the invalid replied, “I have no one to help me into the pool when the water is stirred. While I am trying to get in, someone else goes down ahead of me.”
  Then Jesus said to him,
“Get up! Pick up your mat and walk.” At once the man was cured; he picked up his mat and walked. (John 5:1-9a)

Do you find anything unusual about this passage?

Jesus’ asks this paralyzed man if he wants to get well. Why?

Sometimes we don’t know what we want.
Sometimes we don’t really want what we think we want.
Sometimes we don’t want what we really need.

Most of us have heard stories about people who refuse to leave an abusive relationship.

Maybe you know someone struggling with an addiction but they won’t seek help. They don’t really want to change.

Change. That’s a loaded word!

Why is change so hard?

We fear the unknown.
The status quo is often comfortable.

Carl Sandburg once said, “There is an eagle in me that wants to soar, and there is a hippopotamus in me that wants to wallow in the mud.”

Jesus asks the man, “Do you want to get well?”

Jesus asks the best questions. They not only lead to an answer, they usually change the entire story.

How many loaves do you have?
Who touched Me?
Whose face is on this coin?
Will you give Me something to drink?
My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?

Notice the man’s response. All he can see are the obstacles. He lacks vision.

These pools were believed to have had magical powers when they were stirred by an angel, but only the first person in the pool could be healed. This man could not walk, much less be the first one in the pool.

The man waited thirty-eight years to be healed in the pool. He never asked to be healed, but Jesus shows up, blows his mind, and heals his body...without the pool!

That sounds like Jesus...the friend of sinners, the compassionate One.

Look at the man’s response to Jesus’ question again. He does not say yes. He explains why he has not been healed.

Change is hard. If he is healed, he has to work rather than beg. He has to pay taxes. He has to buy a pair of shoes! Everything he has known for nearly 40 years is radically altered.

Jesus simply tells him to get up. That’s it! No prayer, no mud, no magic wand, no altar call, no plea for money. Get up!

There’s more to this story, though. One simple verse changes everything...

The day on which this took place was a Sabbath, (John 5:9b)

Uh oh! The rest of the chapter shows how religion got in the way of the relationship God wants to establish with us.

The rulers completely missed the point.

We’ve talked about the importance of the Sabbath. It is in God’s top ten list...the Ten Commandments. It was created for us to rest and know God.

Jesus heals...on the Sabbath. Ooohhh!

Jesus tells him to carry his mat...and it is the Sabbath. Ooohhh!

Jesus runs into the man again, though.Jesus tells the man to stop sinning, but rather than following Jesus, he blows the whistle on Him.

Was his sickness the result of sin? We don’t know, but it is possible that there was a correlation.

So, because Jesus was doing these things on the Sabbath, the Jewish leaders began to persecute him. In his defense Jesus said to them, “My Father is always at his work to this very day, and I too am working.” For this reason they tried all the more to kill him; not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God. (John 5:16-18)

Here Jesus is on trial.

They are prosecuting Jesus.
They are persecuting Jesus.

Jesus was not merely unpopular. It says that they tried to kill Him! Why?

1. He was breaking the Sabbath
2. He was accused of blasphemy by calling Himself God (which is why He had the authority to break the Sabbath)

Jesus gave them this answer: “Very truly I tell you, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does. For the Father loves the Son and shows him all he does. Yes, and he will show him even greater works than these, so that you will be amazed. For just as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, even so the Son gives life to whom he is pleased to give it. Moreover, the Father judges no one, but has entrusted all judgment to the Son, that all may honor the Son just as they honor the Father. Whoever does not honor the Son does not honor the Father, who sent him. (John 5:19-23)

That cleared it up, right?

The rest of the chapter continues with red-letter words of Jesus to the religious leaders that ultimately call for Jesus’ execution.

These are very important statements in which Jesus declares that He is God. He is LORD of all, including the Sabbath. The seeds that lead to the crucifixion are clearly sown here in the fifth chapter of John.

But I want to go back to the beginning...I want to end where we began...

What do you want?

Do you want to be healed?
Do you want a spouse?
Do you want a job?
Do you want peace?
Do you want to impact the lives of others?
Do you want God to do great things through—and in—you?

Don’t let your dreams fade!

Perhaps a more important question before going there is...

Do you want to be well? Maybe you think you
are well. We’re all messed up. Each person in this room is sick. We are sick with sin. In fact, if you think you are well, you are more messed up than the rest of us because you are living in denial...and undoubtedly judging the rest of us...but we talked about that two weeks ago with the Samaritan woman.

It all begins with surrender. Perhaps you are thinking about what you have to do to be healed, but the Living Water has come to us.

There were various people at the pool:

Lame: in pain
Paralyzed: numb
Blind: no vision

This sounds like many in the Church. We lack vision, we are hurt and in bondage from our past, or feel detached.

Jesus doesn’t want us to merely survive like the sick man. He wants us to experience all of the life that He came to bring. That is not to say that there won’t be trials and persecution, but He has a vision for you...for me...for us...that He and only He can accomplish if we allow Him to do so.

Nothing is impossible with God...especially if you are pursuing His vision for your life.

It probably won’t happen as you expect it. The paralyzed man thought the pool was the only way to health, but Jesus surprised him.
It probably won’t happen when you expect it. He was paralyzed for thirty-eight years! Don’t give up. His timing is perfect, but usually slow in our estimation.

Can you let go of your own fear of change and allow God to make all things new? A new life, a new way of living, that is the Good News of God in Christ.

Get up and walk, in Jesus’ Name. Get your eyes up and look to Him. Fix your eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, and get them off of yourself!!!

You can listen to the podcast here.

Signs, John 4:43-54, 1 July 2012

Big Idea: Do you want Jesus or just miraculous signs?

John 4:43-54

  After the two days he left for Galilee. (Now Jesus himself had pointed out that a prophet has no honor in his own country.) When he arrived in Galilee, the Galileans welcomed him. They had seen all that he had done in Jerusalem at the Passover Festival, for they also had been there. (John 4:43-45)

If we think of Israel as Jesus’ country, the contrast is not between Judea and Galilee, but Samaria (where He was) and the Jewish regions of the country.

The people had seen what Jesus had done.

  Once more he visited Cana in Galilee, where he had turned the water into wine. And there was a certain royal official whose son lay sick at Capernaum. When this man heard that Jesus had arrived in Galilee from Judea, he went to him and begged him to come and heal his son, who was close to death.
(John 4:46-47)

He’s back in Cana, but this time He’s not there to make wine.

This man was important. He likely worked for Herod Antipas in Galilee. He has a little boy who is likely his firstborn son who carried the heritage of the family.

Why didn’t he bring his son to Jesus? We don’t know!

Like the Samaritan woman at the well, he was desperate. He was broken. He had no where else to go. He is begging!

Desperation is what usually drives people to Jesus. I believe the primary reason why Christianity is dying in the western world is because we aren’t desperate for God. We have air-conditioned homes, cars with satellite radio, world-class hospitals, and iPhones. What else do we need?

Until that moment comes. The Visa bill. The report card! That word from the doctor. The late-night phone call.

There are people all around you and me that are in or about to experience a crisis. That’s the time they will be most receptive to the Gospel, the good news of Jesus.

“Unless you people see signs and wonders,” Jesus told him, “you will never believe.”
The royal official said, “Sir, come down before my child dies.”
“Go,” Jesus replied, “your son will live.” (John 4:48-49)

The Galileans wanted Jesus to prove Himself with miracles but don’t care about what God is really doing among them.

“Come down” is an imperative. The official gives Jesus an order.

“Go” is also an imperative. Jesus follows suit and gives the man an order.

Notice that Jesus doesn’t go. He is actually absent in the miracle. He is not confined to one place. His power and influence is beyond human imagination and ability.

The world can see God’s power at face value, but there is a relationship between miracles and life-changing faith.

Some say that if they could see Jesus, they would believe in Him. This is simply not true. Thousands saw Jesus and saw Him perform miracles. They were impressed, but not impacted by God in their presence. The human heart is prone to selfish action rather than humble obedience.

Miracles were an important part of Jesus’ ministry and they led many to faith, but He wants more. Anyone can be grateful for a free lunch, but true belief takes things to another level. Jesus wants people to not only believe in His miracles, but in Him.

The man took Jesus at his word and departed.
While he was still on the way, his servants met him with the news that his boy was living. When he inquired as to the time when his son got better, they said to him, “Yesterday, at one in the afternoon, the fever left him.”
(John 4:50-52)

The man had to exercise his faith. He did so by leaving Jesus.

Jesus’ word is all that the man needed. After all, it was Jesus’ word that created the universe. Jesus’ word is power. It can be trusted.

God loves to bless us and intervene in our lives, but He doesn’t want that to be the focus.

Luke 16:19-31, the rich man and Lazarus; even if a person has every sign, they may not believe.

The people wanted signs. They wanted to see tricks.

They did not care about Jesus.
They did not care about being with Jesus
They just wanted what they could get from Him.

They wanted a genie that they could use and put back in the bottle when they were done.

  Then the father realized that this was the exact time at which Jesus had said to him,
“Your son will live.” So he and his whole household believed.
  This was the second sign Jesus performed after coming from Judea to Galilee.
(John 4:53-54)

Just like last week’s story of the Samaritan woman at the well, the result was this character and others believed.

All this man had was Jesus’ word. He had to act on faith. He had to take a step of faith...not a leap of faith, but a step of obedience.

What about you? Are you waiting for Jesus to perform a miracle and prove Himself to you? Today as we celebrate communion together, we remember that He did prove Himself. He proved His love. He backed up HIs words with action.

He also proved Himself by conquering the grave. He performed the greatest miracle ever...the one that not even Harry Houdini has been able to do—resurrect.

You can listen to the podcast