John 5: Would You Be Made Whole?
This is a story which has two parts. In the first part we will see the healing of a paralyzed man on the Sabbath. An obvious violation of the man-made rules the Pharisees had invented which causes a confrontation between Jesus and the Pharisees in the second part of this story next week.
John gives us the setting of this miracle. The place is called Bethesda, which means “house of mercy”, and is located near the Sheep Gate. There are five covered porches surrounding the pool. It was here under the cover of these porches a great number of disabled people used to lie- the blind, the lame, the paralyzed.
*Now if you are reading in the NIV, verse 4 is missing. If you are reading in another version, you have a verse which explains why they are gathered around this pool: For an angel went down at a certain time and stirred the water; then whoever stepped in first after the stirring was healed of whatever disease they had. This verse does not appear in original manuscripts. This verse was added later to explain why these disabled people gathered here and why the man Jesus was about to heal told Jesus he had no one to put him in the pool when the water was first stirred.
Jesus knew about his man, just as he knew about the woman at the well and that he had been in this condition for a long time. Jesus asked the man, “Do you want to be made whole? (I prefer the use of the word, whole, rather than well in the NIV)
Let us pick up the story at this point with the disabled man’s reply to Jesus’ question: “Do you want to be made whole?” “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. The day on which this took place was the Sabbath, and so the Jews said to the man who had been healed, “It is the Sabbath; the law forbids you to carry your mat.” But he (the healed man) replied, “The man who made we well, said to me, “pick up your mat and walk.” So they asked him, “Who is this man who told you to pick up your mat and walk?”
The man who was healed had no idea who it was, for Jesus had slipped away into the crowd that was there. Later Jesus found him at the temple and said to him: “See, you are made whole. Sin no more, lest a worst thing come upon you.” I italicized the word temple because this man had gone to the House of God to thank Him for making him whole.
As you contemplate this story, you might wonder in a place of such sickness, blindness, lameness, why didn’t Jesus heal everyone? Jesus came to seek and save. Jesus came as Savior. He came to save us from our sins. He came to heal us of our spiritual disability. This man was healed, but he would still die someday. But Jesus told us;” I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. ( John 11) Lazarus was raised from the dead, his life was restored. However, Lazarus would eventually die. The priority of the Lord was and is always to deal with our spiritual condition first and foremost.
Here is the truth: “Though our outward man perishes, yet the inward man is renewed day by day.” 2 Corinthians 4:16) Out outward bodies are growing weaker as they age, yet our inward man is being renewed day by day- this is the equivalent of the “ fountain of youth” many are seeking today.
Jesus healed just the one man that day. He was teaching a great spiritual truth of which the healing was a symbol or sign. His message is we are all spiritually impotent, without strengthen, unable to walk according to the Spirit. Without strength to resist temptation, powerless over sin. Apart from Him we can do nothing. But we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us. Here is the power for living. He was standing right in front of this man who did not have power to stand up and walk.
Jesus is the answer to our spiritual disability, our spiritual impotence.
Now notice Jesus asked the man, ‘do you want to be made whole?’ Whatever may be said of God’s Sovereignty and man’s free will, one thing is sure. The human will play its part. The Lord will never save someone against their will. When he wept for Jerusalem, and proclaimed how often he had longed to gather them as a mother hen does here chicks, he lamented, “You were not willing.” He did not say, you could not- he said you would not, an act of the human will.
Now let’s do an analysis of this miracle, or as John calls them a “sign”. Let us look what is the message, the instructions which the Lord is telling us in performing this miracle.
WHAT THE SIGN IS TELLING US
The first step to being healed of spiritual paralysis is to admit we are powerless. I have a spiritual birthday coming up, on September 16th. I was saved on September 16, 1977. I had a conversation with the Lord Jesus that morning, just as sure as Nicodemus, the woman at the well, the nobleman and this paralyzed man. As a result of that conversation He sent me to an AA meeting which was taking place just moments away and just moments after my conversion. Here was what I heard, which Jesus intended for me to hear, when I entered this meeting as they had begun to read the 12 steps. Here are the first three steps of AA I heard that morning when I entered into a church basement to a 10:00 am AA meeting:
- We admitted we were powerless over alcohol and our lives had become unmanageable.
- Came to believe a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
- Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.
Listen to what happened to me and what happened to this man at the pool of Bethesda: “You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. “ (Romans 5)
Every person on the face of the earth who is without Christ is without strength and powerless. I was born and you were born incomplete. We were without Christ and we were born in bondage. We are sinners by birth, sinners by nature, sinners by choice and sinners by practice. You can rename it, re-define, but we are all born this way. This is why we must be born again.
So here is the first step to realize we were born with a sinful nature void of the Spirit of God. The primary source of our weakness, the inability to walk as God intended us to walk is sin. Jesus linked this man’s sin to his inability to walk. This is why Jesus told him to go and sin no more, lest something worse happen to him. * Not all sickness is caused by sin, but we believe death entered the world as a result of sin. For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life.
The source of our spiritual disability is sin. We were created to glorify God, to reflect His image. Sin is coming short of the glory of God. (Romans 3: 23). It is the hole in our life, the gap between our sinful lifestyle and the glory of God is the source of our weakness. God wants us to be holy as He is holy. And we do not have the strength and never will in our own strength.
This paralyzing force of sin is we cannot be what God would have us to be. I could not stay sober to say my life. This man could not walk. And each year, his condition got worse, the muscles in his legs begin to atrophy and wither. His muscles were deteriorating. The longer a person stays in the throes of alcohol, or drugs or any type of addictive sin, the course of the disease of sin continues to worsen until it leads to death. So it is with people who are without Christ. The longer they live, the harder their hearts become and their condition worsens. But do not give up hope, for nothing is too hard for the Lord, including the stone heart of an unbeliever.
This man had been in this condition for 38 years. His bitterness about his life is obvious, and he has an excuse which he has used for years. When Jesus asked him – do you want to be made whole? The man had the excuse he had used for years- my problem is I do not have anyone to put me in the water first when it is stirred.
So we see we must realize we are powerless over sin in our own strength.
We must realize the condition will only get worse until we say to the Lord; I am powerless over my sin. Please come into my life and take over or else I will die. This is an act of our will.
When Jesus said to this man, “Do you want to be made whole?” Jesus was actually asking this man, what is your will in this matter? Jesus wanted this man to activate his will. God will never make you choose. God will not coerce your will, but He will enable it. God says he is not willing that any should perish, but all would come to repentance. He takes not pleasure in the death of the wicked. He did not create hell for man, but for the devil and those fallen angels who followed him rather than God. This why the most important commandment and invitation Jesus offers is “Follow Me.”
BEGINNING THE WALK.
John did not write this book so paralyzed; sick, blind people could be healed of physical illnesses. John tells us why he wrote this Gospel: “These are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name.” (John 20:31)
John wrote this gospel and recorded these miracles, which he refers to as signs so that lost people might be saved and have the abundant life. He wrote it that we might receive the strength from above, so that by believing Jesus we believers could walk in victory, day-by-day.
Jesus offers the man a choice: would you be made whole?
Then Jesus told him to do something. This was a command which required obedience. Remember our four steps from last week. We must: hear the Word, believe the Word, Obey the Word, Rest in the Word.
Turning the water into wine, required the servants to hear the command of Jesus, believe He could turn the water into wine, obey the command by taking the water into the master of the banquet, and rest in their faith that what Jesus commanded would be so.
With the woman at the well, we see a woman who took Jesus at His Word and believed Him without seeing a miracle to validate His words. The people of Sychar believed his word. The nobleman believed his word and now this man will believe his word.
The man had a choice. He could believe Jesus had the power to heal him and make him whole or not. Jesus did not reach down to give him a hand and assist to get up. This man had to get up to his feet and take up his mat and walk. Getting up and walking did not heal this man. He was healed by the power of Christ. His walking demonstrated he had been made whole.
THE SPIRITUAL PRINCIPLES:
“For by grace are you saved through faith; and that not of yourselves; it is a gift of God, not of works, lest any many should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God has before ordained that we should WALK in them.” (Ephesians 2: 8-10)
All things are possible with God.
There are three key prepositions in these verses: by, through and unto. This is the ordained order of these truths always in this sequence.
How was this man made whole? By Grace. Same way I was saved and made whole, by grace. And this is true of everyone who is saved. This man was paralyzed. He was powerless and could not walk. I was powerless over alcohol and my life had become unmanageable. I could not stay sober. Salvation is by grace.
Salvation is also through faith. Faith is the gift God offers. When we accept the faith He provides, it is exercised by obedience. We must hear the word. Believe the word. But we must not be hearers only; we must be doers as James tells us in James 1. Faith is belief with legs on it. It results in works.
Brings us to the last preposition, unto good works. We are saved by grace through faith unto good works.
We are not saved by good works, but we are saved to do good works which God had planned before for us. This is why Jesus warned us of the thief who comes to steal and kill and destroy. Jesus said he came to give us life and life abundant. Do you see what the enemy has done from the beginning? He, who is the father of all lies and the deceiver, has planted a corruptible seed- that God is not faithful and cannot be trusted and taken at His word. He portrays God the Father as a stern taskmaster, a kill-joy. That God is withholding the abundant life from you, while the enemy has a life more rewarding, more enjoyable, and more pleasurable and you can do what is right in your own eyes.
Jesus makes it clear as we study his teaching and listen to his conversations with people He encountered. He told us a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions. How does Jesus provide us with the “abundant life”? Good question. The Lord Jesus provides us with the abundant life by giving us Himself. The enemy of your soul has convinced our culture today and he done so since the fall of man in Garden, the abundant life is in money, wealth, power, fame, and all that goes with it. But if we observe the life of the rich and famous we find higher incidents of divorce, infidelity, children in trouble and a never ending search for happiness, for a sense of satisfaction.
So here is the order we see, and the sequence in which it always operates: Salvation is by grace, through faith, unto good works.
Jesus is the answer to your disability. Faithful is He who calls you who will also do it. (I Thess. 5:24) This means He will provide you with the strength to walk the walk, day by day.
The Christian life is a by grace through faith operation from the moment. This is why Paul wrote: “As you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk you in Him (Col. 2: 6).” How did we receive Him? By grace through faith. How do we then live and walk in Him? The same way. God will replace your disability with his ability.
Admit you are powerless over sin and your lack of strength, your disability to walk as God intends you to walk. Recognize He can provide you with the strength you do not have. In fact, His strength is made perfect in your weakness. Don’t keep sitting where you are – get up and come to Jesus.
God wants to supply all your needs. This starts with salvation for the unbeliever and strength for the believer.
Trade your disabilities for His abilities. Remember the currency of exchange in heaven is faith.
Don’t stay where you are- get up and go with Him. FOLLOW ME, SAID JESUS AND I WILL MAKE OF YOU WHAT I CREATED YOU TO BE AND CALLED YOU TO BE.