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Do You Want to Get Well? (John 5:1-15)
Message #7 of "John: A Story to Believe" by Pastor Jeff MacLurg; Our Savior's Baptist Church, Federal Way, Wash. (My notes from Sunday, April 17, 2011. I pray that my notes will useful to you.)
--- A Ring of Truth (v. 1-2) ---
In the middle ages, it was easy to counterfeit coins. it was hard to make them exactly the same, scarcity of materials, etc. But you could drop the coin on a stone slab and you could tell from the sound whether the coin was right or not. (The fakes had a dull thud, the real one rang true.)
Before the early 1900s, it was said that John 5 must be false because no such pool had been found. But by the mid 1900s, such a place had begun to be excavated. It had been deeply buried. In 1964, it was absolutely confirmed that the place described in the story did indeed exist.
Also, notice he says "There is" and not "There was" - this very story I am telling can be verified right now. (It makes it harder to pass off fiction as reality if there are still eyewitnesses who can disprove what you are suggesting.) Also shows that John was writing before the destruction of Jerusalem.
* ITS SETTING (THE BIBLE, THIS STORY) IS CONFIRMED BY ARCHAEOLOGY.
* IT COULD BE CONFIRMED IN JOHN'S DAY.
--- A Rotten World (v. 3-5) ---
Is this a rotten world? We are insulated from it here, but yes, there are plenty of examples. He briefly mentioned the slums of South America, the streets of India, the cities of Mississippi and Louisiana after Katrina. We never see that kind of hurt on a daily basis. God didn't intend for this world to be filled with misery, pain and sickness. But we live in a world impacted by sin. Sin devastates people. If each and every one of us have not been on a short-term missions trip, we must. (I have not. I am planning to go with my daughter when she goes which I expect will be within a few years.)
This would have been a scene (all the pain and suffering at the pool) that would have turned our stomachs. But without any alternative, the people waited. The pool would have been fed by an underground river and occasionally surged. So there was a rumor that the stirring of the water caused healing. Someone even went so far as to add to the Bible the idea that it was actually an angel's wings causing the stirring.
* Sin has BROUGHT MISERY INTO THE WORLD.
* Desperation drives people to TO DECEPTION.
--- A Revealing Question (v. 6-9) ---
"Do you want to get well?" Duh. Is this a crazy question? It's like your dad asking "Do you want a spanking?" Hold on - it's not such a crazy question at all - this man's been dependent on everyone for 38 years (possibly his entire life) - if he got well, he wouldn't be able to rely on anyone else anymore. If he were to be healed, he would now need to carry his own weight.
"Do we (really) want to change?" If so, the responsibility stops belonging to the circumstance and starts belonging to us. Change is difficult, so all too often we cling to what paralyzes us.
"Do you really want to be saved?" (Do you want to be changed? Do you want to let go of that sin? Do you really want to overcome this addiction?) The change might bring its own pain.
What do we notice about his answer? He DIDN'T answer, he made an excuse for his present situation. His first response isn't "Yes, I want to change." or "No, I want to stay miserable." His first response is "It's not my fault." Don't expect much of me because there's no one to help me.
--> Look up Max Lucado's story of Robert Reed ( http://www.maxlucado.com/articles/topical/peace_that_defies_pain ). Robert Reed didn't see fit to give God excuses.
We need to stop making excuses. In the past year, a woman was seeking financial assistance from the church. He asked her "Don't you want to get a job?" Her answer "My car broke.". Another he counseled "Why not just show your wife more love?" and the answer "My dad never showed us any affection growing up." (Not even a 'I don't know how but want to.')
Jesus just says "Get up, take your mat and walk." No more excuses. (Gospel according to Nike: Just Do It.) Not a self-help lecture, not a "God helps those who help themselves." message. The healing was 100% Jesus, but the man still had to say "Yes" and then actually do what Jesus told him to. Jesus said it was up to him.
* We need to decide IF WE REALLY WANT TO CHANGE.
* The man answered with AN EXCUSE.
* Jesus GIVES THE MAN AN IMPOSSIBLE INSTRUCTION.
--- A Religious Response (v. 10-15) ---
So Jesus healed the man. You'd think people would be happy about that. But the man was stopped for carrying his mat on Saturday (the Sabbath) - we'd rather you stay crippled than violate our rules.
Religious people use the rules to validate themselves. It's great that Jesus saved you, but don't bring that version of the Bible into our church. It's great that Jesus saved you, but don't go around hugging and being loud and excited. In the name of religion, you need to abide by this and this and this. Religious people need to keep themselves separate from the non-religious people. They care more about the rules than about people.
A few years ago, someone from our church was in another city on business. It was a warm day and he rolled into the church parking lot with his radio turned up. (Pastor didn't say what kind of music, but did mention the guy - a U.S. Marshal - knowing him, it was probably loud Christian rock music.) Anyhow, he turned off the car and started towards the church when someone came up to him and said "We don't approve of that kind of music here. If you listen to that kind of music, maybe you should go on to the next church."
* "RELIGIOUS" PEOPLE CARE MORE ABOUT THEMSELVES THAN CHANGED LIVES.
They take the best parking places, the best seats in the church. They're inconvenienced by guests. They get frustrated when they don't like the songs picked for the service. Religious people make sure that guests on Easter Sunday know that they're in the regular attender's seat - that will guarantee the guests don't come back and take their seats again Etc.
--- Go Home With This ---
* GET UP AND WALK. (Not now! After the service is over. Haha)
But seriously, stop making excuses. Get up and do what God has called you to do, to the life He's calling you to. Do you want to change?
Prepare Ye The Way
All Hail the Power of Jesus' Name
When I Don't Know What to Do
Lord I Run to You
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