The gospel of John records seven miracles of Jesus. Each of these miracles displays different types of authority that Jesus has over each situation. The last time we were together, I preached on Jesus being the master of nature in answer to man's despair. Through the miracle of Jesus walking on the water we were able to see that no matter what situation we are in, Jesus has the authority and the power to move us out of our troubles, and to calm the storm. All our troubles are under his feet. Today, I would like to start again by relating to you something that I witnessed on our cruise. It was a really nice day out. The sun was shining down, it was probably about 85° out. We were still at sea, being about half a days journey from our first port of call. Lisa and I, had gone to one of the upper deck's, and sat down at a table near one of the pool's. Now there's a bunch of people around, and for some reason I find myself fixated by a little boy, probably no more than 10 years old. He was standing on the outer rim of the pool. This pool had a shelf around the inside that was may be no deeper than 6 inches. And this little boy was just standing there. He had taken off his sandals and was just standing there in the water, while I'm assuming his sisters were playing in the deeper end. Then I noticed the boy's legs. They were so skinny. They were nothing but bone. The boy started going back and forth along the shelf trying to be near his sisters. As he walked I noticed that he seemed to walk with a very pronounced limp. He would walk back and forth along that shelf wanting to get in and play with his sisters; but there was no one to help him. He wanted so bad to go in that water, but no one was there for him. He got off the shelf and began making his way around the pool. It was then that I could see his feet. I could see why he limped the way he did. His feet were deformed. As he's going around the pool he slips on the tile and falls down, flat on his belly. His pride hurt, he manages to get himself back up. There was no gasp from a concerned mother. No father came to see if he was all right. No sibling came to help him up. It was as if he had no one. A few moments later, he collects his things and leaves. As I watch this I am reminded of the account of the lame man at the pool of Bethesda. I'm also reminded of the fact that many of the trials and tribulations that we face today are not new. The circumstances surrounding them may be different, but overall we still have the same difficulties as those people talked about in the Bible.
Today, were going to be looking at John chapter 5 verses 1 thru 9. Here will learn about the lame man who was made whole by Jesus at the pool of Bethesda. Here, we'll be able to see that Jesus is the master of time in answer to man's disability.
Beginning in verse one we read "after this there was a feast of the Jews, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. Now there is in Jerusalem by the sheep gate a pool, which is called in Hebrew, Bethesda, having five porches. In these lay a great multitude of sick people, blind, lame, paralyzed, waiting for the moving of the water. For an Angel went down at a certain time into the pool and stirred up the water; then whoever stepped in first, after the stirring of the water, was made well of whatever disease he had."
Our account begins with one of the three Jewish festivals which Jewish men were required to sojourn to Jerusalem. Some Bible manuscripts state that this was the feast of the Jews instead of a feast of the Jews. What this possibly means is that this was probably the Passover feast. And as an obedient Jewish male, Jesus was going to Jerusalem. The city of Jerusalem had several different entrances. The one we're talking about here is by the sheep gate. The sheep gate is considered by many to be the closest gate to the Temple. It was through this gate that a person's sacrifice would come through. But, before someone's sacrifice was brought to the temple, it had needs to be washed. People were coming from miles around with animals to sacrifice. They would get really dirty along the way. So before these animals could be brought to the temple as a spotless sacrifice they would have to make a stop at the pool of Bethesda. Here, they were cleaned up. Here All that dirt and grime and whatever else they had on them, was washed off. So as you can imagine, this wasn't a very clean place to be. It probably didn't smell too healthy either. It is this same pool which Jewish tradition states that an Angel comes down and stirs the water and whoever is the first person in the water is healed of their disease. Being that this was probably the time of the Passover, there could have been a few thousand sick people there wanting to get into the water first.
The Paralytic Man.
Beginning in verse five we read "now a certain man was there who had an infirmity 38 years." Among the thousands that are trying to get into this pool, here is a man who is All alone and is desperately trying to get into that pool at the right time in the right order. Some scholars say that he was a paralytic, yet textually John uses words like infirmity, and impotent to describe this man. Quite possibly, this man could have been a paralytic or he could've been extremely feeble or very weak in strength. We are told that he has been with this infirmity for 38 years. Now it doesn't say that he was 38 years old, but rather that he is had this patient for 38 years. I believe that this man was at least in his 40s if not even his 50s. In later verses something Jesus says makes me think that this man had attained some experiences in his life before he was struck with this ailment. In verse 14 Jesus says "see, you have been made well. Sin no more, lest a worse thing come upon you." Jesus seems to suggest that this man's condition is a result of sin. If that is the case then this man would've had to have been at least at an age where he could be held countable for his sin when his condition first occurred. I'm guessing between 10 and 12 years old? At the earliest? And in that society, that would make him an old man.
Jesus Confronts the Man.
This next section of Scripture describes the exchange that occurs when Jesus meets this man. Beginning in verse 6 we read "When Jesus saw him lying there, and knew that he had already been in that condition a long time he said to him, "do you want to be made well?" The sick man answered him, "Sir, I have no man to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up; but while I am coming, another steps down before me." Jesus comes on the scene and he knows this man. He knows him on the inside. He had divine knowledge of this man's condition. And so, with the knowledge that Jesus has this man, Jesus cuts to the heart of the matter and asks him-do you want to be made whole? But the man, he never answers Jesus's question! Instead he gives Jesus four excuses as to why he cannot trust God! And these are the same excuses that we all have used had some point in our own lives. In this one little sentence that this man says, he makes four excuses as to why he's not trusting in God's provision.
Excuse #1: "I Have No Man"
How is this similar to what we do today? How would we express this same excuse in our society today? How many of us have ever uttered the phrase-there's nobody around to help me? And that's what this man's first excuse is. I'm all alone, and there isn't a single person here in this crowd of thousands who is willing to help me. Who is this man depending on. Who is this man placing his ability to get to where he needs to go? He is depending upon people, not God. Is that something that we do? Before having a problem with our boss at work do we talk to other people about our boss or do we talk to our boss's boss? And hope that somehow they will be able to fix the problem? Or do we talk to God. Do we take the time to come before God and say here I am Lord take me to where I need to be? Or do we just say here God hears my problems you deal with them. We need to depend upon God. People will let us down without a doubt, people will let us down. Sometimes it's deliberate, sometimes it's accidental. But not so with our God our God can always be depended upon and he will never ever let us down.
Excuse #2: "When The Water Is Stirred Up."
Again this man's focus is not where it should be. He is focused on the water. Not only is focused on the water but he's keen for that period of time when the water is stirred up. So how is that an excuse that we would use today? Are we ever so focused on something that we lose sight of who we should be focused on. What the man is really saying here is that the conditions just aren't right for a miracle. Have we ever been in the situation where we need a miracle? And we plot and plan and expect God to move in a way which we ourselves deem appropriate. Do we ever build ourselves up expecting God to move according to our plan? With all that's been going on in our church family these past few years, have we ever said to God-well I've gone to the doctors and they've given me this treatment so when that treatment is done I'll be healed? I think it's part of our nature to understand or I should say try to understand how God is going to work in our lives. We think that he think's the way we think; therefore if I think that this event plus this event equals complete healing, then God must think the same! But how many times have we heard it said that-God's ways are not always our ways? I think many of us have a tendency to depend on our circumstances, the things that must happen around us, in order that we may experience a miracle. When in fact all we have to do is depend on God.
Excuse #3: "To Put Me Into The Pool."
This excuse of the man again shows how this man was completely focused in the wrong place. How does this man's excuse relate to one of our modern-day excuses? Have we ever limited what God can do? Have we ever said that-this is the wrong place to expect God to do a miracle? Perhaps, because we cannot fully see just how might our God is, we limit him to our own expectations. When I was on the cruise it never occurred to me that God could heal that boy right then and there. We think of healing as something that happens in a special place at a special time. We think that God's work is confined to where our minds say that God should work. For some of us we restrict God to the church building. Others may restrict him to the hospital bed of a loved one. But again our God knows no boundaries he is not limited to where our minds think that he should work. But when he does work; when he does perform a miracle you'll be blown away by it. In April of last year we saw a miracle in the most unlikely place, at the most unlikely, if not the most inopportune time possible to us. As you may recall, a while back I talked about my niece Crystal while I was preaching, and the miracle that ensued in her recovery of some of her memories after a car accident in 2009. Last year as my father-in-law was on his death bed we got to see a second miracle right there in the hospital. We had brought Crystal to the hospital to see my father-in-law. He was comatose and really not responsive. Crystal had had an urgent sense that she had to see him. So as we brought her in there God used my father-in-law while he was in a coma to rekindle in Crystal her first childhood memory since the accident. We would have never expected God to perform a miracle in that place the way he did that day. Our God knows no limits. No one place, no one house no one state no one country can hold him yet we think that he can only work in certain places. His power has no boundaries.
Excuse #4: "While I Am Coming, Another Steps Down Before Me."
In this excuse the man has put the blame on someone getting ahead of him. This healing didn't come because he wasn't quick enough or because someone cut him off at the pass. Have we ever experienced this excuse before? Have we ever thought that-someone else has gotten in the way or someone else's making life tough? The first thing that comes to mind as I think about this is-have you ever been running late for an appointment? Perhaps you didn't hear the alarm go off in the morning and now you're going to be late for work? And as your driving in, trying to make up time you realize that every slowpoke is out on the road in front of you and that every traffic light turns red just before you get to it, and then there's a construction site and they stopped traffic, but you don't see anything going on. You ever had a day like that? I know I have. Then you get to work and you have to explain to your boss why you were late. And then you begin to relate the whole story about how being late was all these other people's fault and not your own. Or better yet, let's take the work scenario out of this. You're sitting at home listening to the radio, when all of a sudden the announcer draws two names as the winner of the grand prize in a contest the station was having. One million dollars is yours if you can be the first to go to the get to the radio station in the next 20 minutes! After going through all the traffic difficulties, you make it there in 18 min. You're thinking to yourself-yes! I've got this in the bag! You go through those front doors and your heart sinks because the other person got there in 17 min. and is now $1 million richer. You now can't claim your prize. You blame all the people that got in your way as you drove to the station. When in reality you just took the wrong route, and the wrong means of transportation because the radio station was only a block away. You could have walked and been there in 10 min., but you thought the car would be faster. So you continue to blame all those people for your lost fortune. So this man was blaming others because he could not get to the water in time when it was because of his own physical failures that kept him from being strong enough to get there in time. Often times we look back at our own failures, and blame other people for them instead of examining the present possibilities. This man had Jesus standing in front of him and he was so caught up in making excuses that he didn't take the time to make up a prayer to the one standing in front of him who had the power to heal him completely.
In verse eight we read "Jesus said to him, "rise, take up your bed and walk." And immediately the man was made well, took up his bed, and walked. And that day was the Sabbath." Jesus knew the man, and he heard the excuses. But Jesus saw through all the excuses to the real heart of the matter. Jesus saw this man's need. This man for 38 years was unable to move about freely. Some might want to call him a feeble old man. He waited 38 years to be healed, to be made whole. Along the way he tried to do things his way. Coming to this pool was perhaps his last great effort to find healing of his disability on his terms. The last part of this verse it makes an interesting point which I could see it being a fifth excuse that we make.
Excuse #5: "And That Day Was The Sabbath."
The key to this excuse that we make is the word was-that day was the Sabbath. Jesus healed back then. Did you notice that these words refer to a past point in time? We like to say that-he did great miracles. When we should say that he does great miracles. God is not limited to a past point in time. He is not a has been. When the Israelites were in the desert they did not know him as the great I was. No! They know him as the great I am! Time is not a cage for God. It does not keep him in a single point in history. Our God exceeds time. He is the same yesterday and today and forever.
Jesus is the master of time in answer to man's disability. Jesus works to heal a man when it is his time to do so. Jesus removes our disabilities when we realize that we need to depend on him rather than depending upon other people, our conditions, our places, or our abilities. When we stop limiting God, it is then that he will exceed dramatically all of our limited expectations. We need to remember to that it's not just our physical disabilities that Jesus works with. Jesus’ time is perfect and he works in us not only physically, but with those other things which DIS-ABLE us. Those things which freeze us in our tracks. That inhibit us from being focused on him. That inhibit us from doing the work which he has called each and every one of us to do. To be ministers of his word. To be doers of the word.