This is…Help for the Hopeless - Hope for the Helpless
Everyone was just lying around…waiting for relief that seemed so far away. Sound familiar?
Bethesda= “House of Mercy” – my wife has been there and taken pics.
The “House of Mercy” was a house of misery for many. This pool was situated where there were intermittent mineral springs. (The moving of the water) A descending angel is disputed by liberals for this reason, however we read in Rev.16:5 about the "angel of the waters." In some way or another when the waters moved, they had a peculiar power. The affect of the bubbling, moving water upon the afflicted bodies of the people indicated to them the presence of God.
There were 5 porches which were covered areas where the sick folk would await their opportunity to get into the healing pool.
Jesus was attracted to one poor sufferer (He never lost sight of the individual)...He isn’t wringing his heavenly hands right now, looking at a big globe in crisis, He’s looking at one person, you!
We may not have the virus, but we all have burdens…
[We don’t all have health/wealth/certain talents/hair!] You know who you are!
Notice that the identity of these had no bearing on their being healed. No one received special attention because of who he/she was. There were no special support or interest groups that went from porch to porch doing social assistance. No one had advantage over others.
Being wealthy had no advantage.
Being good – no advantage.
Having a goodly heritage – no advantage.
Being the poorest – no advantage.
1. The Picture of a sinner.
a. He was powerless.
v. 3 'Impotent' = without power. [opposite of omnipotent]
Everyone lying around the pool lacked power. [power to see / hear / walk / heal themselves] do you feel powerless right now?
The Bible often illustrates sin with disease...because disease to a body is a clear picture of what sin does to a soul. This is not to say that your sickness is because of sin. Some suffer more than others and it is not necessarily because they sin more than others. The devil would like to lay that guilt trip upon us, but we shouldn't go there.
Truth is, all sickness and even death is because of sin in general, and the curse upon this world. Now, personal sin often does carry direct consequences. For instance, putting harmful agents into our body can make us sick. Our body is God's temple, so we shouldn't defile it. When we sin, it may come back on us. If you insult a bald man in your church he is likely to seek revenge next time he has the platform!
But we are way out of bounds when we get judgmental about an afflicted person. Over in chapter 9 a very silly question is asked,
1 And as Jesus passed by, he saw a man which was blind from his birth.
2 And his disciples asked him, saying, Master, who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind?
Did he kick his mom in the womb?
3 Jesus answered, Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him.
Jesus says, you can put away this notion that it is because of sin...for this man was born blind for a greater purpose. In this case, God will heal him and receive glory for it. Elsewhere we find that sometimes God chooses one of His children for suffering...and He has a greater purpose in NOT healing them. Perhaps it is so they can glorify Him by enduring it. Perhaps it is so others can see the miracle of God's grace working in their life, and gain a new perspective of their own life.
With all that said, in THIS particular case in our text in chapter 5, THIS man's sickness IS tied to personal sin.
v. 14 Thirty-eight years before he brought this upon himself by some sin, unknown to us.
The point is, the Bible uses physical maladies to illustrate what sin does to a person spiritually. For instance, physical blindness is a picture of spiritual blindness.
2 Corinthians 4:4
In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not...
17 They shall be turned back, they shall be greatly ashamed, that trust in graven images, that say to the molten images, Ye are our gods.
18 Hear, ye deaf; and look, ye blind, that ye may see.
Sin ravages, destroys, withers and weakens. This paralyzed man is a picture of how sin robs us of power.
The following poem was written about a person getting caught up in immorality:
The Sick Rose By William Blake
O Rose thou art sick.
The invisible worm,
That flies in the night
In the howling storm:
Has found out thy bed
Of crimson joy:
And his dark secret love
Does thy life destroy.
How many times is a beautiful rose of innocence destroyed by sin.
Numbers says, "Be sure your sin will find you out."
Sin takes you farther than you want to go.
Sin keeps you longer than you want to stay.
Sin costs you far more than you planned to pay.
ill.--John Schlitt was from our area in IL. Schlitt began singing and showing interest in music from a very young age.
In 1972, he joined the rock band Head East as lead. They produced several hits during the 70s, just ask Doc. Their label told Schlitt that he didn't have the rocker image and needed to party in public and he would be more successful. He did. However, during the time, Schlitt also developed a dependency on cocaine and alcohol. His dependency reached a peak when he retired from the band in March 1980.
His addiction intensified in a six-month depression during which he "came very close to suicide." He couldn't beat his addiction. He was powerless. He felt he was worth more dead than alive and began planning how to end his life.
It was right then that his wife became a born-again Christian, and convinced him to see her pastor. Schlitt confesses that he complied only "so my wife would be able to say ‘he tried’ after I was gone".
However, in that meeting Schlitt also was born-again and immediately, miraculously left his addiction to drugs and alcohol.
Five years later, John received a call and was invited to audition for a Christian band. He got the job. It may not have been our kind of music but He earned 4 Grammys and numerous Dove Awards. His travels and performances with the group reached all 50 states and over 35 countries.
Point is: without God, John Schlitt was like this man in our text: He was powerless over his sin...
You may feel like you are powerless, and like some sin has an absolute chokehold on you. Let me tell you about Jesus, who has the power to deliver you!
a. He was powerless...
b. He was helpless.
v. 7 As a quadriplegic, he was motionless without help. This is another picture of what sin does to us spiritually. It renders us helpless.
Some of you are slave to some thought pattern, and you'd like to be delivered from it, but you feel helpless. So, you've just accepted it. [become habit]
I challenge you today to rise up out of that comfort zone, and not accept that situation any longer, and decide to walk away from that victim's mentality. Believers in Christ aren't victims, they are VICTORS!
I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.
If God be for us, who can be against us?
Remember the pattern Israel got stuck in?
And the children of Israel did evil again in the sight of the LORD...
Like a dog returns to his vomit...like a clean pig returns to the mud. We aren’t helpless if saved!
v. 7 is one of the saddest verses in the Bible. He had no one to help him. "No man cared for my soul." [psalmist] My goal is that no one in our area would be able to say that!
Jesus cares! He knows your needs right now...the deepest hurts in your heart. We are a church who cares!
a. He was powerless...
b. He was helpless.
c. He was hopeless.
v. 5 says it was 38 years for him! Think about where you were 38 years ago. [longer than I've been alive! They say don’t lie in church, but I’m in my house!]
How many of you would go to a doctor’s office and wait there 38 years without seeing the doctor? Once a year the nurse would come out and say, “Who’s next?” Everyone would make a dash to the door, and whoever got there first was the next patient. Year after year after year opportunity passed him by…37 times he missed it!...there was no hope...he would be this way the rest of his life! At this point, he lays there by the pool simply because he has no other place to go. His heart had withered just like his limbs!
Some of you have a situation and you've literally given up hope. Maybe it's a relationship. [financial / work / sickness] maybe it’s this obvious pandemic…
If this passage teaches anything at all it is that when Jesus Christ comes on the scene, NO situation is hopeless!
A man can live a few weeks without food, a few days without water, a few minutes without oxygen, but not for one second without hope!
ill.--A teacher had the unique job of teaching kids in hospitals long term. It was so they wouldn't get too far behind in their studies. Every day she would receive a name and room # and a lesson to teach. One day she was given a grammar lesson on nouns and verbs and sent to the burn unit. She didn't know until she got there just how bad it was. This boy was wrapped in gauze from head to toe...in so much pain. This was to be his first lesson since his accident weeks before.
She introduced herself and began the lesson, and he could barely groan or acknowledge her. She felt very badly for putting him thru the lesson in his condition, but it was her job, so she did it. The next day she walked down the hospital hallway on her way to another student. The boy's nurse saw her and said, "What did you do to that boy yesterday?" She melted and began a flurry of apologies about adding any stress to his life at this time. The nurse stopped her. "What I'm saying is, he has totally turned around! He hadn't been responding to treatment or even trying for us. He was lethargic in his spirit and had given up. Now today he is a different person. All of his levels are much better, and there's a look of life in his eyes! What did you do in there?"
Later, after the boy was all better, they found out from him what happened on that day. "While I was laying there I thought I was going to die, and that they just wouldn't tell me. I had given up. But when the teacher taught me that lesson I thought to myself--they wouldn't teach grammar to a boy who was dying, would they? I realized I was going to live."
What did he receive that day? Hope! I heard some of you. We’re still connected!
Whatever you are facing--God didn't bring you under this teaching today to tease you with hope. You aren't the exception. He offers hope! You are hearing these words right now because it is not hopeless!
Help for the Hopeless - Hope for the Helpless, pt. 2
Living the Christian life isn't hard. It's impossible. Only thru Christ can the impossible happen. The paralyzed man in our text was powerless, helpless, and hopeless for 38 years.
That was part 1: The Picture of a Sinner.
Pt. 2: The Power of the Savior.
1. What He sees.
v. 6 "Jesus saw...and knew"
He knows everything. Don't cover it up...don't kid yourself.
Jesus can see the inside, what you are thinking/feeling.
2:23-25 Here's a group who wants to follow the Lord, but Jesus doesn't commit Himself to them. They believed in Jesus, but Jesus did not believe in them. Why not? Because He looked inside their hearts and saw that they were only following Him because of the miracles that He did. They weren't ready to commit for real. They were seeking the sensational and their own desires.
'Believe' and 'commit' are synonymous in Bible terms. Warren Wiersbe calls these in our text 'unsaved believers.' It's one thing to respond to a miracle, and another thing to believe on Jesus Christ. These were 'miracle mongers', with no commitment.
And America is full of churches with unsaved believers!
Remember the parable of the sower? Only 25% of the seed 'took'. As for much of the other 75%, something stirred them, but they had no depth of earth.
Jesus could see right through them, just as He could look right inside of Peter [1:42] and said 'thou art Simon' and 'thou shalt be' a stone [Cephas]. There's a period of time between the two. I thank God for that period of time as God works on us to make us who we are supposed to be. We should have patience with one another through those times as well. Now, if you don't let God work on you, you end up a gray headed baby, spiritually.
God sees me not for who I am, but for my potential, and He doesn't throw the clay away...He continues molding and shaping. When God saved you He didn't just see you as the filthy sinner you 'were'...He saw the 'thou shalt be!'
So, when someone doesn't like who you are, ask them to be patient, because God's not finished w/ you yet! "He's still workin' on me."
Jesus saw inside of Nathaniel in 1:47. [prejudice]
He saw inside the woman at the well.
5:42 Talking to the hypocritical Jewish leaders. It would be wrong for us to make such an assertion because we cannot see the heart. But Jesus can! We have a Savior who sees!
6:64 About Judas, knowing in advance he would betray Him.
8:10-11 'Go and sin no more?' How could Jesus let this adulteress off the hook so easily? He saw her heart, that she was sincerely repentant.
Aren’t you glad that if you are sincere in your repentance and belief on Jesus that He won't throw the book…but will 'let you off the hook'?
8:40 His enemies. He knew that they had murder in their heart, though they had not yet vocalized that. God sees the heart.
We can make the outside look pretty good. Imagine if we put that much effort into the inside!
Let's quit pretending to be something we are not. Let's be honest with ourselves, w/ others, and with God, who sees!
Jesus sees inside, knows your problems, and the solutions. He knows your malady AND your cure!
I'm glad that even though I'm often as dumb as a box of rocks and sometimes it seems I can't make a good decision to save my life - my Jesus can look down and say, "Well, at least he's sincere. He's a dumb sheep but his heart is right."
"Jesus knows all about our struggles."
"No one understands like Jesus. Every woe He sees and feels.
Tenderly He whispers comfort. Every broken heart He heals."
what He sees...
2. What He searches.
6b "Wilt thou be made whole?" Duh! Seems like a ridiculous question. But fact is, some folks don't want to get well. Some don't know they are sick. Some do and yet don't care!
Physically, some always WANT to be sick.
ill.--Andy Griffith said of old Miss Emma Watson: "She's been enjoying poor health for years." It is the attention, the self pity. Ask them how they are doing and get ready for an organ recital!
In America today I think there are many who, if Jesus approached them would say, "Don't touch me...I'm drawing disability!"
ill.--the leaning tower of Pisa was built about 900 years ago, leaning due to a faulty foundation. For centuries they tried to find ways to fix it, but couldn't. Eventually they found a way, but chose to leave it as it is. Why? It's a tourist attraction. They don't WANT to straighten it out! They enjoy the attention they get!
Some simply don't want to get saved. In some cases they have grown comfortable with themselves and don't want change. They've been upside down so long they don't want to be right side up!
ill.--our bathroom clock is fast in order to speed us up in the morning. We know it, and we don't change it because we are used to it! If you fix it, we'll be late.
ill.--My desk is a catch all. My wife has tried at times to clean it up. I come in and say, "Who messed up by desk?" "Don't clean off my desk! I know where everything is at...don't improve me woman!"
Let me just say that if you are messed up spiritually and don't want to change, you don't know what you're missing.
"Will you be made whole?" You have a free will. God may 'move' you, but He will not 'mug' you! [force you]
He respects your free will so much that He not only will allow you to follow sin...He'll allow you to follow it all the way to hell if you choose.
Oh! Let me announce to you today the Messiah is walking by where you are today. He is looking for you. He knows your condition. He died for your sin. He took your guilt and offense upon his own body, and He asks you, “Wilt thou be made whole?” What will your answer be?
A Savior who sees, and searches...
3. What He says.
He is told to rise and walk; a strange command to be given to an impotent man, that had been long disabled; but this divine word had divine power; it was a command to the disease to be gone, and his body to be strong. But it was also His directive the man, to see if he would believe and give it a try in faith.
The conversion of a sinner is the cure of a chronic disease; this is ordinarily done by a word of command: Arise, and walk; turn, and live.
“Mercy there was great, and grace was free;
Pardon there was multiplied to me;
There my burdened soul found liberty, At Calvary.
Rise = something he couldn't do before.
take up thy bed = no safety net / no plans for relapse.
walk = start taking care of yourself.
These were 3 things he couldn't do before...because God's commandments are God's enablements! God will not command you to do something that you can't do w/ His help.
Salvation was immediate
v. 9 It happens in an instant. It's not a process. It happens the second you believe.
He made it public
v. 15 It's a good indication that you are serious!
ill.--man missed church for months, then showed up one day. Pastor asked him, "Aren't you in the army of the Lord?" He whispered, "I'm in the secret service!" There's no such thing.
Rise up, overcome! Take up your bed...make no plans for failure. No safety net. The only way we make it is if God sees us thru…you’d better believe He will!
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