A Walk from the Water
By: John Ankerberg Show
March 1, 2015
Message, Robby Gallaty, Senior Pastor
The title of the message today is “A Walk from the Water.” A Walk from the Water.
As we continue on in our journey through the life of Jesus through the book of John, we are going to see here in Chapter 5 that there is a shift in Jesus’ ministry. In fact, from this point on, Jesus is forthright with His identity, even coming in contact with the hypocrisy of the religious leaders of His day.
John always ties his narrative to the festivals or the feasts of Israel. In fact, let me give you a few of them. In John Chapter 2 Verse 13, he talks about the Passover. In Chapter 6 Verse 4, once again we see the Passover. In Chapter 7 Verse 2, it is connected to the Tabernacles. Chapter 10 Verse 22, the Feast of Dedication. Chapter 11 Verse 55, the Passover.
This is how…watch this…this is how scholars are divided as to how long Jesus’ ministry really was. You hear that Jesus either ministered for two and a half years or He ministered for three and a half years. Well, how did they get there? If this account today as we study John Chapter 5 is the Passover, which we don’t know for sure, but if we can assume this is the Passover, then Jesus’ earthly ministry spanned three and a half years. It was a longer period of time. But if this wasn’t the Passover, then we can really believe that Jesus only ministered for two and a half years while He was here. Regardless, it makes no difference.
The point I want to make is this, in just six chapters, whether it is two and a half years or three and a half years, in six chapters John identifies two years or three years of Jesus’ life in only six chapters or seven accounts…seven encounters if you will. And it shows us that John is meticulous in how he chooses what encounter to talk about, or better yet, what miracle to highlight.
This miracle is no exception. What we are going to see here today is a controversy that arises over the healing of a man on the Sabbath Day. Jesus sends the man home as a visual picture of this healing.
My aim today is simply this: I want to show you today that your hope should never rest on superstition or tradition, but that it should rest on the Son of God, Jesus Christ Himself. We will see these men that Jesus comes in contact with, relying on years past of tradition and superstition and He shows them that their hope should be in Him.
If you have your Bibles, and I hope you do, turn with me to John Chapter 5. John Chapter 5 and we will consider verses 1 and following. When you are there, say “Word.” The Word of the Lord.
“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, in Aramaic called Bethesda, which has five roofed colonnades. In these lay a multitude of invalids – blind, lame, and paralyzed. One man was there who had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him lying there and knew that he had already been there a long time, he said to him, ‘Do you want to be healed?’ The sick man answered him, ‘Sir, I have no one to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up, and while I am going, another steps down before me.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Get up, take up your bed, and walk.’ And at once the man was healed, and he took up his bed and he walked. Now that day was the Sabbath.”
I want to unpack this text in two different segments. The first one I want you to see right out the gate is the hopeless condition of man. If you are taking notes, write down The Hopeless Condition of Man. And not just this man, but all of mankind.
You have to understand, Church, whenever we see a picture of physical ailment in the Bible, it is also a picture of spiritual ailment. It is a picture of someone’s spiritual condition. So when you see someone physically blind, it is also a picture of their spiritual blindness. This man is an invalid, for thirty-eight years.
Well, where is he at? The text says he is at the Sheep Gate. The authorized version calls it the Sheep Market. There were four colonnades that made up this area. Two pools, one on the north side and one on the south side. They had a fifth colonnade that was between these two pools.
Now I want you to picture the scene. If you were with Jesus that day, you would have walked into a pitiful scene. The stench of that place would have been overwhelming, if you can imagine. Bodies just lying next to the pool. People that were lame and blind, with various diseases were just sprawled out everywhere. The sight was a pitiful scene. It was a depressing scene as well.
And what had happened is, there was a superstitious legend that had arose over the years that over time, once a year, this angel would come down and stir the water, supposedly, and if you could make it into the pool, then you could be healed.
Now if you notice, if you are reading out of the ESV as I just read out of, the ESV eliminates completely Verses 3 and 4. If you have the Holman or maybe the New King James, it has verses 3 and 4 with brackets around it. If you have the ESV, it is a footnote. Now why in the world would the ESV remove this section?
One of the benefits of us progressing in time, in the future, is that we are able to go back in time farther and find older manuscripts that validate the truthfulness of the Word. And so what happens is, as we progress this way, we are able to find manuscripts closer to the original manuscripts. And what happened apparently is, a scribe, when he was copying the Bible, decided that he should insert this small commentary on what is happening in this section. Does it take away from the text? No. Regardless, what he is saying here is, this place is a picture of hopelessness. It is place that is a picture of superstition. These people got excited when these waters would stir. It is a place of despair.
I want you to picture this. It is a last-ditch effort for anyone wanting to be healed and Jesus walks on the scene. And so we are surrounded by this superstitious, superstition of all these people.
Secondly, Jesus walks also into this idea of tradition because there was tradition that was associated with superstition. Verse 9, “And at once the man was healed, and he took up his bed and he walked. Now that day was the Sabbath. So the Jews said to the man who had been healed, ‘It is the Sabbath, and it is not lawful for you to take up your bed.’ But he answered them, ‘The man who healed me, that man said to me, ‘Take up your bed, and walk.’” He blames Jesus. He pleads ignorance. I don’t know what is going on but this man told me to do this.
“They asked him, ‘Who is the man who said to you, ‘Take up your bed and walk’?’ Now the man who had been healed did not know who it was, for Jesus had withdrawn, as there was a crowd in the place.”
One of the benefits of us systematically preaching through the gospel of John is that we get to compare this account with previous accounts. And if compare this account with the account we talked about last week, we realize it is very different. The faith of the father that was demonstrated last week was seen in the fact that he knew who Jesus was. He believed that Jesus could heal his son, so much so that he put feet to his faith and walked 20 miles to meet Him. This man, on the other hand, is oblivious to who Jesus is. He has never even heard of Jesus before. He doesn’t yell out to Jesus. He doesn’t call Him by name. He doesn’t say, hey, you are the Holy One of God, You have come to heal me. He is oblivious to Jesus.
Also, we are able to compare this man’s life with the woman at the well, which we will talk about in a couple of weeks, but happened just moments before this. When this woman is healed, if you will remember the account, this woman goes into the town and tells everyone about who Jesus is and what He did. Unfortunately, as we look in this text, this man doesn’t even know Jesus’ name.
Now I don’t know about you, but if I had been sick for thirty-eight years and someone heals me, I would at least get their name. It is kind of an odd text, right. I would at least get the name. Not this man, he doesn’t get the name.
And so Jesus comes to him. Lets see how the miracle happens. Jesus says, “Sir, do you want to be healed?” Do you want to be made well? And the man’s response is interesting because it gives us insight into what happened when the water supposedly would stir.
Now scholars believe that the reason the water would stir is because of two intermittent springs that were underground that would bubble up. Now the people didn’t know that at the time, but that is how it stirred. They thought it was an angel and so they would dive headlong into the pool.
Notice what the man says. He says, “Sir, I want to be healed but no one is able to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up. And while I am going down, another steps before me.” You see, his response gives us insight into what happens.
The disabled would throw caution to the wind and everyone frantically would rush to the waters. It would be similar to what happens on Black Friday at 5 a.m. when Best Buy opens the doors and everyone begins to trample one on another to get the latest and greatest new technological device which would be outdated next year. The only different here is they are not trampling to get electronic toys, they are trampling to get healing. And this man, apparently every time he makes his way to the waters, he gets kicked or kneed or round-housed and he can’t get in the water and so he says, “Sir, I can’t get in there.”
And so Jesus simply says to the man, “Get up.” And the man gets up. Now once again…I love this…and I cannot stress this enough. Jesus simply heals the man through His Word. I mean, I was meditating on this last night. Do you realize we have that same Word today that is a healing balm for our soul? It is the same Word. Jesus doesn’t touch the man. He doesn’t touch the jugs. He doesn’t touch the father’s son. Jesus can heal from a distance. And Jesus heals across the portico that day. He says, “Get up, pick up your mat and walk home.”
Now Jesus, if you had just never said that phrase, You would have never gotten in trouble. But like I told you earlier, Jesus is ready to confront the religious leaders of His day. You see, the mat has nothing to do with the significance of the mat, it has to do with walking with the mat. You have to understand, it is the Sabbath Day and you can’t work on the Sabbath. And one of the things they prevented you from doing was walking with a mat. Now the mat was just a woven mat that was interwoven together with straw, but what the mat did is, it was…watch this…it was a visible sign of the healing of the man. It was the testimony. It would be like the man walking with a poster board saying, Jesus healed me on the Sabbath! And just walked around. That is what they saw. Everybody is standing still and here comes this man moseying through town with a mat on his shoulder. And naturally, the religious leaders questioned him.
Now, it is probably not just the mat though. Here is where we really have to read into the text a little bit. And when I study these accounts in the gospel, I hope you do this. One of the things I learned in seminary, I try to put myself in the story, in the account. And so I am standing by the pool side. Maybe I am sitting at the pool side in a lawn chair with a Coke Zero in my hand. I don’t know. But I am there, right? It probably wouldn’t have been that. But I am there.
When Jesus is feeding the five thousand, I am there receiving the bread. I am on the mountainside. When Jesus is preaching the Sermon on the Mount, I am next to Him. I am trying to put myself in the account. And if I put myself in this account, and if you were this guy after thirty-eight years of being ill, guess what he is doing right now? He is not strolling through town whistling. He is running through town like any Jewish man would, hooting and hollering and screaming and praising the Lord. Why? Because he is healed! He is running around. What is wrong with this guy? He is healed! Who healed you? I don’t know, but I am healed. He doesn’t know the name of Jesus. He is healed.
It reminds me of what happens in Acts Chapter 3 when Peter and John come in contact with a man at a different gate called the Beautiful Gate. Remember the man is asking for money. Peter and John stop. Now this is amazing because they saw Jesus, particularly Peter and John saw Jesus heal this man at the pool of Bethesda. Notice how Peter heals this man in Acts Chapter 3. Hold your place and turn to the right to Acts Chapter 3. Notice the similarities and how they heal this man by the gate. Verse 6, Acts 3. When you are there, say “Word.”
“Peter said, ‘I have no silver and gold, but what I do have I give to you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk!’” What is he doing? The same thing. Get up and walk! And the man gets up, as Peter took him by the right hand and raised him up, and immediately his feet and ankles were made strong.”
I don’t know how this happened. Maybe his feet were deformed and as the man stood up, they strengthened out and he walked on them. Now what does he do next? “He begins leaping up as he stood and began to walk, and entered the temple with them, walking and leaping and praising God. What he does is, he discards his mat and he does a two-step. Who says believers can’t dance? This man is dancing here, folks. He is excited. He is praising the Lord.
Now, the ripple effect of the healing of the man at the pool of Bethesda will reach the religious leaders in just a moment. And the question we are going to ask ourselves is, were they excited about this healing? Just the contrary. They started to attack the man and ultimately they will attack Jesus.
We see thirdly in the text this contradiction. So we see this superstition, we see tradition, now we see contradiction. Jesus is coming to stand up against the religious leaders of His day because of the laws that they had set.
There were two types of laws in the land. There was the written law and there was the oral law. The oral law was an interpretation of the written law. And before I get into that, you have to agree with me that in America, we have some pretty wacky laws. I found a book that talked about obscure laws many people don’t know about in our country. In Pennsylvania, for example, the penalty for cursing is a $.40 fine. However, if you attach God’s name to it, it is $.67. That is one of the laws. In Seattle, Washington, it is unlawful to ride on a city bus with a goldfish unless the goldfish is lying still! My personal favorite, in Juliet, Illinois, women are not allowed to try on more than six dresses in one store. I don’t know if that hurts the economy, but I can assume it does. But you can imagine, we live in a country with pretty wacky laws.
So the Jews, what they decided is, God gave them the written Law which is the Word, but then they decided to come up with the oral law which they thought they were doing a good thing. What they did was, they put these rules and regulations or what they called fences around the law. And so what they said is, if we put these fences around the Law, then if you knock one of two of the fences down, you never break the Law. They thought they were doing a good thing, but they had actually gotten far from the Lord.
One of the laws that was constantly being debated was, what is work on the Sabbath because the Bible says “Keep the Sabbath.” You shouldn’t work on the Sabbath and so the age-old question was, what is work? And so they deduced that you couldn’t walk on the Sabbath. And then they said, well, you can walk, but you can walk only within a 1000 yard radius. And so you had to take your residence, your home, draw a 1000 yard radius around and that is how far you can walk. Well, then they started to say, well, what is your actual home? Is it the place you live in or is it the place you eat in? And then they found out, the rabbi said, okay, you can have a home, but on Friday before the Sabbath, if you take enough food and walk within a 1000 yard radius to another home in town and put enough food there, you can realistically wake up on Saturday, eat at home, walk a 1000 yards, eat at another home and then have a new area to walk from. It got pretty wacky, if you can imagine.
Even today, Torah observant Jews will not turn on a light switch because the light will flick a spark and a spark will start a fire and the Bible says you shouldn’t light a fire on the Sabbath, so they won’t turn on a light. There are even Jews, when I was over in Israel, that will take the Charmin rolls and take off the tissue and stack them up in a neat stack. Why? Because the Bible says you shouldn’t tear or rip on the Sabbath and so you can’t tear the roll, right? You have to stack it. It got pretty wacky.
And so Jesus comes and what He is doing is, He is actually coming in contact with these men. And what happened was, they had put all these laws together and all these oral laws and they were checking all these boxes. And Jesus was saying, Look at yourself. Pride has crept in because you are saying, look, I am good with God. I have kept all the laws and I am right with God because I have checked all the boxes. And the problem is, in all these rules and regulations, you have gotten away from a relationship Me and you have gotten caught up in ritual. You are going through the motions, but you have no personal relationship with Me.
Now I want you to see in the text, Jesus is not accused of breaking the law. The man is. And when they come in contact with the man, they ask him, what are you doing walking with this mat? And he says, “This man told me.” Well, who is the man? That man. He told me that I could walk with the mat. And it is almost as if he implying that since Jesus has the power to heal him, He also has the authority to interpret the law. And so they look for Jesus after this.
Now why does John include this text? Of all the miracles in the life of Jesus, why does he include this text at this point in John Chapter 5. Here is why I believe that. I think what John is showing us early on is that the world and the system of the world, superstition, tradition and the world system, was against Jesus from the start, that the world system was negative. It was against Him and His mission. And Jesus is starting to show us, as John will say later on in I John, we need to not love the world or the things in the world. Why? Because the love of the Father will not be in us.
Jesus said to His apostles in John 15, “If the world hated you, remember that the world hated Me first.” I think what he is showing us here is that Jesus began to detach from the world system and so should we.
So we see in this text, the hopelessness condition or the hopeless condition of man, not only this man but the world system of humankind.
But then we get into secondly, the Healing Power of God. And this is the focal point of this entire passage. The Healing Power of God. Look at Verse 14. “Afterward Jesus found him in the temple and said to him, ‘See, you are well! Go and sin no more, that nothing worse may happen to you.’ The man went away and told the Jews that it was Jesus who had healed him. And this was why the Jews were persecuting Jesus, because He was doing these things on the Sabbath. But Jesus answered them, ‘My Father is working until now, and I am working.’”
Jesus does something very odd here. We rarely see this in the gospels. Jesus goes back and finds the man for a second encounter. And what He is doing here is, He is uncovering this man’s sin. We see it in the text, this uncovering of sin in this man’s life.
The man’s miracle is odd. We don’t know much about the man, but we do know that the man could never be put in the water when it was stirred. And maybe we can assume that the man was a difficult person to deal with. We don’t know. This is only assumption. Maybe the man was offense and when the waters began to stir, no one wanted to deal with this man. Maybe he was cantankerous and they said, we don’t want anything to do with him. Regardless, we have no record of this man. After he comes in contact with Jesus and he is healed, he never goes back to Jesus and thanks Him. He doesn’t even remember Jesus’ name. He doesn’t even take up for Jesus when the authorities confront him. In fact, he gives in to them. And he doesn’t even remember who He is. He simply reports the facts.
So Jesus decides, you know what, it is time for one more spiritual insight. He goes back and finds this man and notice what Jesus says. “Sir, you are well!” He makes the statement but it actually is a question to the man, don’t you see, you are well. Sin no more, that nothing worse will happen to you. And here is the question we have to answer: Is this man’s sickness connected to his sin? Or the better question in our lives is, is sickness in this world connected to sin? Is it a result of sin? And the answer is yes. The Bible repeatedly talks about how some sin can lead to sickness. Let me give you a couple of proof texts.
Go to I Corinthians Chapter 11. I Corinthians Chapter 11 Verse 28. When you are there, say “Word.” “Let a person examine himself, then, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment on himself. That is why many of you are weak and ill, and some have even died.”
So what he is showing us here is there is a connection between sin and sickness. I think that is why James says, “If any of you are sick, confess your sin one to another that you may be healed.” There are some sicknesses that are the result of sin. Not all of them, but some. And do you know that some sins even lead to death? I John Chapter 5 Verse 16. John says, “There is a sin that leads to death.”
Remember the account of Ananias and Saphirra, Acts Chapter 5. Turn there. The ministry of Jesus is now a movement. The disciples had all things in common. They began to sell their possessions and give it to the church, the movement, the people of God. Ananias and Saphirra begin to put their land up for sale. They sell the land and they lie about the profits. Look at Verse 3. “But Peter said, ‘Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and to keep back for yourself part of the proceeds of the land?…When Ananias heard these words, he fell down and breathed his last. And great fear came upon all who heard of it.” Verse 7, “After an interval of about three hours his wife came in, not knowing what had happened. They asked her the same question. She corroborates the story. Look at Verse 10. “I immediately she fell down at his feet and breathed her last. When the young men came in they found her dead, and they carried her out and buried her beside her husband. And great fear came upon the whole church and upon all who heard of these things.”
And so we see this connection between their sinfulness and ultimately their death. Now here is the problem, that isn’t how it always happens, or here is the dilemma. That isn’t how it always happens. Some sickness, some illnesses are used by God to display His glory. That may be the reason you are struggling, maybe the reason you are going through a trial is so that God’s glory can be displayed through you. What a great honor!
John Chapter 9, we will see in just a few weeks, as they are walking by the roadside, the disciples say to Jesus, Who sinned that this man was born blind? His parents or him? You see, they know that sin equals sickness. And so they ask the question, who sinned? Jesus said neither. It was not that this man sinned or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him.
In John Chapter 11, Jesus hears the news that Lazarus is on his deathbed. He is about to die. He purposely waits three days. He says to His disciples in Chapter 11 Verse 4, “The illness that Lazarus has does not lead to death. It is for the glory of God, so that the Son of God might be displayed through it.”
So here is the question, why does Jesus out of the potentially hundreds of invalids by the pool that day, pick out this man? We don’t have time to get into it, but if you don’t believe in election, you are going to have a hard time with this one. Just a side note. Because Jesus chooses him and He doesn’t choose anyone else. And I think the reason chooses this man…watch this…is because this man’s sin, I believe is connected to his sickness. And the reason I get there is because Jesus follows up with him with a meeting afterwards and the very thing Jesus says is, “Go and sin no more,” meaning, you saw what happened to you for thirty-eight years. Don’t do it again.
And it kind of gives this idea that sin in our life has this intensifying effect over time, right? You see, we think sin is fun for a season, and it may be, but the effects may last a lifetime. The negative effects. It is kind of like when you were single and not married, you may have slept around with different people or even after are married, you may be sleeping around with different people other than your wife. And it may be fun for a season, but then you come down with a sexually transmitted disease and now you have to deal with this problem for the rest of your life. It has this intensifying effect. That is a picture of sin.
And so what Jesus shows us in this text is that who He is and what He can do for this man, He is uncovering his sin, but then He reveals to us his identity. It is a great picture of salvation. We have to realize our sinfulness and we have to understand our Savior, right? Faith in Him, repentance of sin.
I don’t want to spend a lot of time here, but notice how this section ends, which is the point of the passage. Jesus makes the ultimate claim about Himself. Look at Verse 17, “My Father is working until now, and I am working. This was why the Jews were seeking to kill him all the more because not only was He breaking the Sabbath, but He was even calling God His own Father, making Himself equal with God.”
Jesus’ oneness with God is seen in the personal pronoun “My.” Do you see it? You see, Jews occasionally would worship and use the term “our Father,” but no one would ever say, “My” Father. Jesus is making an exclusive claim here that He and the Father are one. He even told Philip in John Chapter 14, “If you have seen Me, you have seen the Father.”
So Robby, how do we apply this text to our life? What does this text look like for us today? Let me give you two walking points as we close.
Here is the first one. Everyone needs to respond to Jesus when He comes looking for them. Everyone needs to respond to Jesus when He comes looking for them.
Sir Isaac Newton came up with the Law of Motion, the first Law of Motion. Here is what he said. “Everything continues in a state of rest unless it is compelled to change by forces impressed upon it.” So everything will remain in rest unless something is impressed upon it, a force is impressed upon it. He went on to say, “An object that is in motion will not change its velocity unless an external force acts upon it.”
Now that is a spiritual insight there, because that is exactly what happened to this man. He was on a path going in a particular direction until Jesus Christ intersected his life and changed it. And that is what happened to you when Jesus came into your life, right? You see, we weren’t looking for Jesus when Jesus came looking for us. I know I wasn’t. This man was not looking for Jesus. Jesus came looking for him. In fact, he was oblivious to who He was. He didn’t even know His name afterward. It is the same invitation Jesus gave to the Apostles, right?
When He went to Peter and Andrew, they left behind a lucrative fishing enterprise to follow Jesus. When He came to John and James, they left behind the family business to follow Him. Do you see what they were doing? They counted the cost and they followed Christ.
When Jesus went to Matthew, he left behind a high paying government position to follow Jesus. He turned his back on the tax table. And when Jesus went to Paul, what Paul turned his back on was the religious elite status of being a Pharisee and he followed Jesus.
Each of these individuals left behind their old life in order to receive true life. And friends, that is what happened to you. But I know in a group this size, there are some of you who have not responded to that invitation to truly surrender your life to Jesus. Jesus is still looking for you. He is still calling for you. Hear Him knocking on the door post of your heart. And yet you have rejected Him. And I want you to know, you will never experience an intimate relationship with Jesus Christ until you divorce yourself completely from the world.
You see, these men counted the cost and when Jesus called, they responded. I think we all need to respond in one way or another.
The second walking point is this. Everyone needs to answer the question, do I want to be healed? Everyone needs to answer the question, do I want to be healed? Now I have to confess to you, Church, I have visited the hospital beds of many people over my ministry. And I have yet to ask them the question that Jesus asked this man. And maybe it is just naïve, but I assume that when I come to a hospital bed and I say, can I pray for you, they want me to pray for their healing. I just assume that, right? Jesus does not assume that. He asked the man, do you want to be healed? And I think this is not an insignificant question. I think this question is an important one. It is a vital question. I think it is a question we all need to answer ourselves.
The man could have said, if I was asking him or even if I was the man, I would have said, “What do you mean, do I want to be healed? I have been lying around this pool for thirty eight years. I have been scratching and clawing when the waters would stir to get in, but every time I get close, I get kneed or kicked. What do you mean, do I want to be healed? Yes, I want to be healed! That is what I would have probably said.
The question is far deeper than that. You see, you have to understand, in the First Century, it was pretty profitable to be an invalid. In fact, begging in the First Century in the Middle East was a pretty profitable business. In fact, you didn’t have a lot of worries or cares of the world. This man, yes, he was sorrowful and he was depressed, but he had a pretty comfortable life. He had an easy going life. It was nothing compared to the men and women who lived outside of the porticos with all the depression and responsibility that they had. He had a pretty easy going life. He had a comfortable life. Watch this. And when Jesus asked the man, do you want to be healed, what He is asking him is, are you ready to leave behind everything comfortable that you know. This man probably lost hope. He probably lost hope that he would ever be healed. He probably sight of the fact that he could be healed. He may have even got to the place where he didn’t want to be healed.
Have you ever gotten so caught up in your sinfulness and your sickness, you just think this is the way it is going to be for the rest of my life.
Just a side note. I was thinking about this yesterday. This man…I can’t imagine this. I have been sick for a season, but I want you to imagine, not three years, not 38 months, but 38 years. And you know, Church, sometimes we have to get so low in life that the only place to look is to God. Maybe that is what God had to do. And maybe that is what God has to do with you. If you still have another handle to grab on to that is other than Jesus Christ, God says, no, you are not low enough yet. You have got to go a little bit further down where the only place to look is up toward the Light which is your only outlet.
Do you know what the man shows us? That sometimes for people who come to Christ later in life, it is very difficult for them to come to Christ. Here is why. Because they start to rationalize in their mind all the things that they have to give up in order to come to Jesus. You have seen people like this. Maybe it was you. Wait a minute. You mean to tell me I have to surrender everything to Jesus Christ? You mean, I can’t go to the bars anymore? You mean I can’t go partying anymore? You mean I can’t watch those movies anymore or visit those websites on line? You mean I have to remove those adjectives from my vocabulary?
Friends, we need to stop thinking about all the things we give up to come to Christ and we need to start thinking about what we gain by coming to Christ and we gain Christ! And if you have ever gained Christ, you have no clue what I am talking about now because you are too busy thinking of all the things you have to give up. You realize a comfortable person will never come to Christ because they don’t need Him. It is the most tragic place to be in the world is to be comfortable in the world. Why? Because you don’t need Christ.
This man was not in that place. I hear people say, Pastor, if I come to Jesus Christ, do you mean I have to give up this and give up the things I want to do, and what about if I want to do certain things. Do you mean I can’t sin anymore?
I love what Adrian Rogers said, the former Pastor of Bellevue Baptist. He said, “Friend, I sin all I want to. I sin more than I want to. I just don’t want to sin anymore. When you come to Jesus Christ, you get saved and you get your want to fixed. As a matter of fact, you get a brand new want to.” Can anybody testify to that?
What Jesus is saying to the man, I want you to count the cost. Do you really want to be healed? Understand the implications of that. You know, one of the greatest tragedies in the world is for people to experience physical healing and yet never experience true spiritual healing from their sin.
I really believe we live a country today where a lot of people like the rewards of Christianity but they don’t want the responsibility of Christianity. Hey, we love fire insurance all day long. And hey, listen, just remember me when the banner is called and the roll is called up yonder, I’ll be there, but all this obedience stuff, no, don’t want that.
Friends, we have to come to Jesus Christ and we need to leave the results to Him. Amen? We need to come to Christ and say, God, whatever You do with my life, I am okay with. If it is suffering, if it is blessing, if it is pain, if it is trials, if it is to be used for the glory of God, I am okay with that, as long as You are glorified.
Tony Campola tells the story of one of his first pastorates in Oregon where he went and visited a man who was sick in the hospital with cancer. He prayed for the man to be healed and he got a phone call from the wife later in the week. And she said, Pastor Tony, I just want to tell you, you prayed for my husband who had cancer. And he thought by the lady talking in the past tense that the man was healed. Maybe he went through a test and the doctor came back and said, he is healed. And before he could respond, she said, I just want to tell you, he died. And Tony was overwhelmed at that moment and before he could respond, she went on and she said, but I want to tell you, Pastor, don’t feel bad. When he came to church on Sundays, he was filled with anger in his heart. He knew he was going to be dead in a short period of time and he hated God. He was 58 years old and he wanted to see his grandchildren and he wanted to see his children grow up and he was angry that this All Powerful God didn’t take away his sickness and heal him. He would lie in the bed and curse God. The more his anger grew toward God, the more miserable he was to everybody around him. Pastor, it was an awful thing to be in his presence.
But the lady went on. But after you prayed, Pastor, a peace had come over him and a joy had come upon him that I had never seen before. In the last three days of his life, they have been the best three days we have ever had. We stayed up late in the night singing songs and laughing together. We read Scripture together. We prayed. Oh, these have been wonderful days. And I just called to thank you for laying your hand on him and praying for his healing. And before she left, she said something profound. She said, Pastor, one more thing. I want you to know, my husband was not cured, but he was healed. He was healed.
You know, for the Christian, we will never experience true healing until we die. That is the ultimate healing. You see, I really believe when Jesus finds this man for one last instruction, and when He says to the man, Go and sin no more, that it may be worse for you. What Jesus is saying is this, come in real close. You thought your greatest issue was your illness. Your great issue was a problem of the heart. You had a sin problem. And the sin problem you have separates you from Me. Go and sin no more so you will have a relationship with Me.
It is a tragedy to see Jesus heal you physically and yet die spiritually in sin. So you thought your greatest problem was the sickness or illness you are dealing with and what God is saying, I am using that to get your attention because you have a deeper problem. You have a deeper issue. Your physical illness is maybe the marker of unforgiven, unrepentant sin in your heart.
And friends, I want you to know, there is only one answer to this. There is only one Great Physician who can redeem a rebel heart. It is Jesus. There is only one Great Physician who can restore a sinful man or woman. It is Jesus. And there is only one Great Physician who can give us a right relationship with God the Father. It is Jesus.
And so let me encourage you today, if you are far from God, cry out to Him today. Run to Him today. Ask for forgiveness and allow Him to welcome you into His arms.