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3. Healing of paralytic at pool of Bethesda –
Three points that struck me:
1. There’s Always Excuses
2. There’s Always Naysayers
3. There’s Always Hope
When Jesus asks him, “Do you want to be made well? Do you want to be made whole?”
According to John, the man doesn’t just say yes.
it was Ronald and Nancy Reagan who came up with the “Just say no (to drugs)” campaign.
In this case, when Jesus says do you want to be healed, Man, “Just say yes!”
First thing that strikes me is the guy’s attitude in his answer.
He’s got excuses. Jesus says, “Do you want to be made well?”
Well, it’s like this – I keep trying to get down there, but every time I start down somebody gets ahead of me.
That’s not what I asked you! Do you want to be made well?
You see, I have nobody to put me in the pool.
That’s not what I asked you.
I never realized this until researching this sermon, but the Interpreter’s Bible Commentary says that verse 14 – “Afterward, Jesus found him in the temple, and said to him, “See, you are well! Sin no more, that nothing worse happens to you.” actually is saying that the guy did something to make himself paralyzed. And Jesus is telling him, go and behave yourself before something even worse happens.
Can you see someone bringing something like this on themselves? I can see that. Ever seen the headline – “Male bystander shot at 2 o’clock in the morning after fight erupts in bar.” The bystander might argue he was innocent, but my grandmother always said nothing good happens when you’re out after 10 p.m.
The bystander might argue he didn’t do anything to deserve to be shot, but if he wasn’t where he shouldn’t have been at 2:00 in the morning, he wouldn’t have been shot. I’m not sure what he was doing there, but you can bet he wasn’t at the bar for a prayer vigil.
Yet even after he’s healed. The former paralytic is blaming others and making excuses.
Jesus likes to stir it up. Jesus heals him on his favorite day of the week – the Sabbath.
They ask the man, “What are you doing carrying that mat on the Sabbath?” (Carrying your mat was considered work and there was no working on the Sabbath.)
Instead of saying, “I’m carrying it because I can carry it! I was sitting on it paralyzed moments ago and this man healed me. You guys know me, you know I’ve been paralyzed for 38 long years. I’ll gladly carry it and I don’t care what anyone says!” Here comes an excuse –
I don’t know. The man who healed me told me to pick it up and walk. It’s not my fault.
Jesus comes back later, says you better stop sinning or something worse will happen.
This begs the question, What’s worse than 38 years of paralysis? (heard someone say one time – 39 years!)
I say eternal hell and damnation would most definitely be worse than 38 years of paralysis.
What’s worse than dying? Dying and spending forever in hell.
So Jesus tells him sin no more. Most of us don’t want to hear, hey, you better fly straight.
We like the being healed part, but we don’t want to hear we’d better straighten up –
I can see the guy now, “Where are those Jews who were upset that I was carrying my mat? I know who this guy is now, it’s the same one who turned the water into wine and healed the nobleman’s son. It’s Jesus.”
He turns Jesus in.
Listen to this exchange –
The Jewish leaders said to the man who had been healed, “It is the Sabbath; the law forbids you to carry your mat.” But he replied, “The man who made me well said to me, ‘Pick up your mat and walk.’ ” So they asked him, “Who is this fellow who told you to pick it up and walk?”
It’s amazing that the Jews who saw the former paralytic didn’t ask how in the world this guy was walking. They weren’t concerned with the miracle; they were concerned that this guy was breaking the law by carrying his mat on the Sabbath.
Remember when I talked about the water turned to wine – how people miss the miracle that’s right under their nose? The master of the feast knew the wine was the best wine, but didn’t know Jesus made the wine from plain old water. The master of the feast didn’t know where it came from, didn’t know that Jesus had performed a miracle.
Here, the Jewish leaders didn’t care about the miracle that this man who was lame for 38 years was now walking. They only cared that he was carrying the mat he used to sit on.
There’s just no pleasing some people. (CAN I GET A WITNESS?)
It’ll never work. Here’s what’s wrong with that idea.
I don’t want to dwell on this point, I already preached about this at 8:30.
I just want to tell you not to listen to naysayers and not to be one.
I said just a few weeks ago that my own dad said I’d never be a pastor.
In court, whichever side needs a person to say something, they can find an expert. You can always find someone to talk you out of something good. Don’t listen to them. Naysayers will keep you imprisoned. And they will keep you from hope, and……
There’s always hope.
The man’s case is not closed – After 38 years, nearly 14,000 days, every day like the last – what hope would he really have? No doubt he thought, “This only happens to other people. I’m not the kind that ever gets the healing. It could never happen to me. It’s always someone else that gets the blessing. I deserve what I have. I don’t deserve healing.”
The man never would have known and never believed today would be the day.
Yet this sign, this miracle, is a reminder to us that no person or situation is too far gone that they are beyond His reach. And just because we’ve tried it before on our own, doesn’t mean we can’t do it when Christ is with us.
Doing it without Christ is like not having the right tools.
I remember times I didn’t have a saw, and I used a drill. I drilled hole after hole after hole, and then I broke the board on the line of holes that I had drilled so close together. What I was left with was a pathetic excuse for a cut. You can imagine what it looked like.
What I like about taking my car to Larry Noble’s is that he has the right tools for the job. As far as I can tell, man hasn’t invented a tool that Larry doesn’t have. Christ with us is having the right tool for any job.
And this miracle verifies that Christ is all we need.
The man departed and told them it was Jesus who made him well.
It wasn’t the angel
It wasn’t the water
It wasn’t the person who carried the man in the water
Make no mistake, it was Jesus who healed him.
Jesus can take a troubled, excuse filled life, and make it whole.
Today Christ puts this question to each of us. Would you like to be made whole?
Like the paralyzed man, some of you never dreamt today when you woke up and drug yourselves out of bed, or when someone drug you out of bed, that today would be the day.
But today is the day. Jesus is asking you if you would like to be made whole today.
Yet we stand in our own way. We know we have the excuses. We know there are naysayers and perhaps we’re the biggest one. We can keep this from being the day for ourselves by not listening to Christ’s command to us today.
Part of the reason we don’t allow him to make us whole is explained by St. Augustine –
The life to which we’re accustomed holds us more than the life we long for.
Augustine is saying that in the life we have, as bad as it may be, at least we know what to expect. That’s why a woman or man stays in an abusive relationship. That’s why we don’t immediately say yes when Jesus asks, “Do you want to be made whole? That’s why we make excuses.
Who knows what will happen if I give Jesus total control?
(Reminds me of what Jim Walker from Hot Metal Bridge Church in Pittsburgh said when he was turning control of their church over to young people – The old guard said, the young people will mess it up. Jim said, the old guard has driven the church in the ditch, at least if young people drive it in the ditch, you’ll be going 100 mph when you hit the ditch and that will be exciting!)
Jim Walker didn’t think the young people would drive the church in the ditch, he was saying the worst thing that could happen isn’t any worse than what’s already happening. He didn’t think the young people would do the church wrong.
Christ isn’t going to do you wrong. For some of you, the worst thing that could happen isn’t any worse than what’s already happening. And who knows what could be? Nothing is impossible.
In Christ, it’s like having Larry’s tool arsenal. You have whatever tool you need at your disposal for whatever job God gives you.
Through Christ, we find that
We can do what we have always failed to do,
We can be what we could never be,
We can master what has constantly baffled us,
We can love like we could never love,
and we can forgive those we’ve never been able to forgive, including ourselves.
None of you are too far away that Christ can’t reach you,
None of you are a hopeless case. Maybe it’s been 38 years for you. Maybe it seems like 100.
None of you have done so much wrong that Christ can’t redeem you and save you.
Jesus said take up your mat and walk. The guy would have never known he could walk if he hadn’t taken a step. You’ll never know the hope that awaits those who put their faith and trust in Christ if you don’t take a step, if you don’t say yes.
Whatever it is you’re lacking, Jesus can make you whole.
So Jesus is asking you today, “Do you want to be made whole?”