Do you feel a longing for something to be different in your life? As we start a new sermon series called Loaded Questions, John Elmore shows us how an interaction Jesus had with a disabled man thousands of years ago can radically change us today.
Do You Not Understand? | John 3
Why Do You Call Me Lord? | Luke 6
Have You Not Read? | Matthew 21:12-16
Do You Love Me? | John 21:15-19
Why Are You So Afraid? | Mark 4:35-41
Do You Want To Go Away As Well? | John 6:60-71
Who Do You Say I Am? | Matthew 16:13-28
Do You Want to Be Healed? | John 5:1-18
Do you feel a longing for something to be different in your life? As we start a new sermon series called Loaded Questions, John Elmore shows us how an interaction Jesus had with a disabled man thousands of years ago can radically change us today.
Y'all, happy new year! It's so fun to be together. As the new year starts, there is a moustache on the cover of the Watermark News. It has rained fish in Texarkana. We're off to a weird start. You need to get right with God. The end is nigh. In the new year, many make New Year's resolutions. So, show of hands. Just a quick survey. Who made a New Year's resolution? Don't be bashful. I'm not going to call and ask what it was. It's about half.
Inc. magazine did a study on New Year's resolutions. I'm about to deconstruct all of those hand raises. They consulted Strava. Strava is an athletic and fitness app with 835 million users. So, Inc. goes to Strava, and they're like, "Hey, tell us. How do the New Year's Eve trends…?" Because they get a whole lot of subscriptions, and then there's a drop-off. There's a progression. "When is it?" Strava has deemed January 19 "Quitter's Day," because two weeks in, there's a sharp drop-off.
Y'all, we can't even make it two and a half weeks after a New Year's resolution. Why? Because willpower is not greater than sin's power, but good news today: God's power is over all. So, that two-and-a-half-week drop-off… Then by February, 80 percent of New Year's resolutions have failed…two months in. Only 6 percent actually fulfill their New Year's resolutions come the end of the year. Thank you. I'm John Elmore. I'll be your motivational speaker for this morning. You're like, "Why even bother?" But I have incredible news for you.
I'm going to read to you from my journal from 16 years ago. Sixteen years ago, here's what I wrote: "For the last three months, I've slept on a couch and lived out of two boxes and my car. I have to take sleeping pills or drink to sleep at all, and when I do fall asleep, half the time I have nightmares worse than horror movies. I drink to escape. I sleep to escape. I drive to escape. I joke to escape. I act to escape. Drinking is not the problem; it's a painkiller. Fix the pain and you don't need or want painkillers. My pain is not knowing my purpose."
Y'all, that was 16 years ago. I haven't had a drink since. It's not that I had to wait 16 years for healing. I didn't have to wait 16 years for hope. All of these pages are just filled, for the last years, of what God has done in my life. He has brought healing. He has brought change. That first page could not be farther from the reality of my life.
Why I share that and why I deconstruct New Year's resolutions, in part… If you want to get fit and healthy, good for you. Great. But Jesus will bring about change in your life, he and he alone. Everything is from him. Everything is for him. He holds all things together. So we look to him for our healing. Everyone in this room, whether you raised your hand or not… Something is not as it should be.
If you made a New Year's resolution, there's a self-admission there, like, "You know what? I need to get straight with this. I need to lose weight. I need to exercise. I need to get out of debt," whatever it might be. Great. Praise God. Others are like, "Man, it just is what it is." I'm here to tell you today that Jesus heals. Today, as we begin this series Loaded Questions, that's the question we are going to address. These are questions Jesus asked live people 2,000 years ago that he's asking again today in our hearing.
So, the question we are going to ask, this loaded question, is…Do you want to be healed? For everyone listening today, whether you're in person or listening online, because the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak… (I'm kidding. It was 19 degrees. I get it. But come back.) Do you want to be healed? A loaded question is something that has great personal impact and emotional weight. That's the definition of a loaded question.
It's loaded because it's like, "All right. There's more to what you're actually asking." Great emotional weight and personal impact. Today, "Do you want to be healed?" is Jesus' question for great personal impact. We're going to be walking through John 5:1-18, if you want to follow along in your Bible or on whatever Bible app you have. We're going to be going line by line. I don't have three points I'm going to take us through. We're going to go through the passage, because the passage is replete with spiritual gold.
So, with that, John 5:1: "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." I've been there in Jerusalem. There are still remnants of the columns that were there. A colonnade was a porch, an overhang. There were five of them around this pool. Why? We're going to hear. Because there's a multitude of invalids who are gathered there.
The word Bethesda is a Hebrew construct: bayit, meaning house, and from the verb hasad, which means love, kindness, mercy. It's where we get the word hesed, which is one of the attributes of God. Hesed is lovingkindness. That would be the noun. So, you have here house of kindness, of mercy, of God's lovingkindness. Why? Because that is what the people who were gathered there needed and were longing for.
Verse 3: "In these [the porches] lay a multitude of invalids—blind, lame, and paralyzed." The Greek word is astheneia. It's what's often used for physical infirmity or sickness in the New Testament. As we read about the physical sickness of one individual in particular, I want you to think about your spiritual astheneia, your spiritual weakness, feebleness, lack of strength, because that is what we have this side of eternity.
It's 1 John 1:8 where it says, "If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us." We're all longing and lacking and, in our feebleness, desperate for Bethesda, a house of lovingkindness and mercy where we can find healing. But we can't just read the Scriptures, black and white on a page. Put yourself there, because these are real stories anchored in history. This is not allegory. This isn't symbolic.
When it says by the Sheep Gate in Bethesda there was a pool and there were five colonnades, that's because they built porches for the shade of the sick who were there, and the Sheep Gate was where they would parade in the livestock that were going into the temple so people wouldn't have to bother with that smell and all of the droppings. This was not an esteemed place. Furthermore, this was where the invalids would gather, those who were blind, lame, and paralyzed.
So, as you think about that, you think about the groanings, the crying, the anguish. It was probably not a very happy place. There weren't restrooms. The sweat, the bugs, the animals going by, knowing you could never go to temple, because here you are. And not only that. There was something much more pervasive than everything I've just articulated about Bethesda: shame. There was a dark blanket of shame over all of those people, wrongly.
In John 9:2, the disciples are walking with Jesus, and they come across the man born blind, and they say to Jesus, "Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?" Jesus is like, "No. That is for the glory of God." They were purporting this false, heretical version of a prosperity gospel that the Pharisees were injecting into society, that if you're wealthy, it means God loves you, and if you're sick or afflicted or lame or paralyzed or blind, it means you or your parents have sinned so greatly against God you're physically afflicted, which is so wrong and sin.
It says in Acts, "It is through many trials and tribulations that we must…" Not might…must. "…enter the kingdom of heaven." The New Testament has a promise that the sufferings of Christ will overflow to us…trial, tribulation, affliction, and suffering. But the Pharisees were like, "Nah. These blind, lame, and invalids are like that because they have sinned so greatly." It's not the case. Now, sin can result in sickness, but this is different in kind. Here people were just sick in this house of mercy and grace, and you're going to see Jesus do incredible things.
Also, multitude of invalids… Spiritual parallel. This place is Bethesda. It is a house of love and mercy and kindness for all the sick and afflicted spiritually of DFW to walk through these doors and find healing, real healing, in their lives from sin and all of the effects, that they would be loved and welcomed here. If ever there is a day where the spiritually sick are not welcome here, shut the doors and call it, but it will never be, because here we worship Jesus, Lord of Lords, King of Kings, who heals all.
It's also a Bethesda because it's a gathering place of invalids. The invalids are us. May we never forget that we also, spiritually, have a weakness and a feebleness and lack strength. We can't do anything apart from him. This is John 15:5 and following, where it's like, "God, I've got nothing if you don't come through," that we would always remember our state. This is Bethesda, and here we are as invalids by the Sheep Gate. Sheep are helpless, needing of a shepherd. It's so good for us, and woe to us if we ever forget it.
Verse 5: "One man…" Now John goes from macro (there's a multitude), and he just zooms in…one man. I hope that's an encouragement to you, that no matter where you are, what you've done, where you come from, how long your thing has been your thing, God sees you. He loves you. He made you and formed you. He longs to be in relationship with you. So, he sees, just as Jesus walking through a multitude is like, "This one."
"…was there who had been an invalid for thirty-eight years." Y'all, Laura and I just walked through breast cancer for six months, and those six months felt like two lifetimes, as every day we were waiting on test results and if the surgery got the clear margins on all sides and everything. She's fine, if you haven't journeyed with us through that. She's good. Praise God. But six months was a long time to walk through cancer. Thirty-eight years, it says, for this one particular man.
Verse 6: "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?'" There are two things there. First, John is revealing the deity of Christ. It's what theologians call the hypostatic union. Meaning, Jesus is fully God and Jesus is fully man, God in flesh walking at the house of lovingkindness. God, whose attribute is lovingkindness, at the house of lovingkindness, sees this man and comes to him.
He would have been standing as this man was lying, paralyzed, and he said, "Do you want to be healed?" There is the loaded question echoing through two millennia to you today. "Do you want to be healed?" Now, it seems like an odd question. The guy is lying there, and he's in the place that he hopes to find healing and mercy. It seems a little insulting, like, "Really? Is that a rhetorical question? Of course I want to be healed." Except for the case that I don't think all of us want to be healed.
I know there was a time in my life where I didn't want to be. I went to a doctor, took blood tests, couldn't figure out some things. He started to talk to me a little bit about my history and my present, and he said… Well, I lied to him. He asked, "How much are you drinking?" I gave him about 50 percent of what I was actually drinking. He said, "If you keep drinking like that, you're going to die." I was like, "Oh, if you only knew." And I didn't change anything.
I walked out of that doctor's appointment and didn't change a single thing, because, frankly, I didn't want to be healed. I didn't want anything different. I think, in the same way, we can grow really, really accustomed to who we are. It's like, "It's just who I am." My eighth-grade economics teacher, which, I'm shocked in hindsight that we're even teaching economics to eighth graders. I didn't remember anything about economics, but I remembered this.
He said, "When you get older, people are going to ask you two questions at a party. They're going to say, 'Hi, what's your name?' Second question: 'What do you do?' They're going to size you up. It's going to be a question of 'Who are you and what do you do?' because your identity becomes so wrapped up in what you do." He was saying that's not a good thing. Like, be interesting. Say, "Hey, how do you know the person here at the party?" or "How long have you lived in Dallas?" or "What's your favorite…?" You know, whatever it may be, but don't just ask someone what they do.
Yet I think we find so much of ourselves and our own lives stuck in our identity of what we do. Maybe it's because of family of origin, where you're like, "You have no idea the chaotic home I grew up in. So, yeah, I'm a little controlling, because it was so horrific that now I need things just so to eliminate some variables." Or maybe it's like, "I'm a natural born leader. I'm an alpha male." It's like, "Hey, great, but that doesn't give you license to be a jerk." Or whatever your thing may be.
We have these sin struggles that have been there for so long we grow accustomed to them. We have grown content with our lack of growth, and it must not be. We have to be turning from those things. Second Corinthians 7:10 says worldly sorrow leads to death. If you're just sorry about your thing, your ditch, your struggle, because you got caught or it's kind of a nuisance, that leads to death, but godly sorrow, being like, "God, I don't want this here," leads to repentance, a turning from it.
I heard someone say once… They were about 60 years old. I'll never forget it, because I was like, "That is so, so sad." This person said, "Hey, I'm 60. Okay? I am who I am, and I don't even want to change." It was so exhausting to them to think about changing. They were like, "It's just who I am. Quit bringing this up. I'm 60. I'm not going to change."
They were giving the phrase of what the world would say: "You can't teach an old dog new tricks." And they're right. You can't teach an old dog new tricks. So, do you know what God does? He's like, "Nah, I don't make old dogs do new tricks. I make old dogs new. I will take an old dog and make them new, and I don't care what age they are, if they're 13 or 93. I can make that old dog new." It's what he lives to do.
We had a re:gen leader. He was 78 years old when he trusted Christ, a wreck of a man. Such a dear leader, David. He changed and was made new at almost 80 years old. His whole family was mind-blown as they began reconciling with him and his grandfather, like, full-on family reconciliation. He became an evangelist (still is) in his retirement community. God didn't teach that old dog new tricks; he made David new. This is the gospel. This is the good news of Jesus Christ.
This is the loaded question, where it says, "Do you want to get healed? Do you want to be healed?" Because he didn't come to make us better; he came to make us new, because all of us have sin in our lives. There is sin that is in us. We've been separated by our sin from God and could never be brought back together unless Jesus, God in flesh, came to this world, living a sinless life we could never live to die the death on the cross, taking upon himself the wrath of God we deserved.
Every single individual will spend their immortality, the rest of eternity, either in hell forever (literal reality) or in heaven reconciled and reunited with God if they place their faith in Jesus who died on the cross for their sins and didn't stay there but was raised from the dead as a picture of you who were dead in your sins being raised again. The dead are raised, and the raised are changed in Jesus. It's the good news, and it's why he says to this man with a double meaning, this loaded question, "Do you want to be healed?"
In my 10 years of serving at re:generation, I have seen two kinds of people. One kind comes in broken, and it's all in. They are there, and they are ready, humbled before God. God says if you humble yourself under his mighty right hand, he will exalt you in due time. They're there like, "What do I do?" Just malleable and hungry and desperate for God, and they find healing. When I say "healing," I mean they physically look like different people because the weight and anguish and death of sin have fallen off them. You can physically see outside what has changed inside.
Then there are others who are like, "Man, I'm here because my Community Group made me come or my spouse when I got caught looking at porn or because of my parole officer or my employer," or whatever it is. They're there because they have to be there, but their heart is not there. They're there physically, but spiritually not there, and there's no difference. Friends, do you want to get healed? Some of you right now… It's just open invitation. Tomorrow night at 6:30 back in this room re:generation meets, and they have a couple of phrases there. One is "If you come, you will never be the same." The second is "Change is possible." Do you want to be healed?
Verse 7: "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 asks him a simple yes or no question. "Do you want to be healed?" Then he goes into this long explanation of, "Well…" It's an insinuation of "I do, but when the water is stirred, someone else gets in before me, and I don't have anybody to help me. I'm by myself, and I'm on a mat, and I'm paralyzed, so I can't." Jesus is like, "That's not at all what I asked you."
See, local legend in Jerusalem was that an angel would come down and stir the water, and the first one in would find healing. This man is like, "I can never get there. Somebody always goes in before me. It doesn't work for me. I'm here, and I'm alone." I think we're more like him than we realize. He had this long-shot "what if," "maybe," "if-then" conditional clause for 38 years.
I think, in the same way, we have set our hopes on willpower and resolutions and "if-then" statements. "If I just was dating" or "If I just had this or that" or "If I got the house, got the job, got the raise…" "If only this person would do a little bit more like I wanted…" We have all of our methods with our little chess game match of "This'll happen. Here's the contingency. Then everything will be good."
Jesus today is like, "No. That's not what I asked. I didn't ask you how. I asked you 'Do you want to be healed?'" You see, this man was so focused on going down. "When the water is stirred, I've got to get down." He wanted to go down. Everything in him… "I've got to get down." For 38 years, "I've got to get down." God was about to say, "Get up."
Isaiah 55 says God's ways are higher than our ways. It may not make sense to you what God is asking you to do, but he's asking you if you want to be healed and to take those steps of obedience. I think sometimes we're so fixated on staring at the water instead of praying to the Father. So, what's your pool of Bethesda? What is it that you're so fixated on, that "If that thing or person was right in my life, all would be okay"? Really. I'm asking you.
We're here for transformation, not information, so you have to ask that question. "When I'm lying and I can't sleep at night…" or "When I wake up, the first thing I'm thinking about…" or "If this one chip, this one domino would fall, everything would go right…" What's your pool of Bethesda? What water are you staring at rather than praying to the Father?
It says in James, chapter 1, "Every good and perfect gift comes down from the Father." Jesus in Matthew 6 says, "Do not be anxious about anything in life, what you eat, what you drink, what you wear." He says, "Instead…" It's like, "Well, those are kind of important things." He says, "The pagans run after all these things, and they don't have God. You have God. So, seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all those things will be added to you."
Here we are again just staring at our pool. "I wish those waters would be stirred. I wish the financial waters would be stirred. I wish the relational waters would be stirred. I wish my familial waters would be stirred. I wish my occupational waters would be stirred." We're staring at the water rather than praying to the Father.
Verse 8: "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 walked. Now that day was the Sabbath." Jesus tells him three things. He gives him three commands: "Get up, take up your bed, and walk." The man gets up, takes up his bed, and walks. Now what's he doing with his bed? I don't think Jesus is on the Jerusalem litter committee and is like, "Oh man. That's going to be taking up space. You probably should get rid of that," but he tells him to pick up his bed.
I bet that bed was pretty nasty. I bet it was disgusting with sweat and filth, maybe bugs, all of the tears that had been cried on that bed, all the anguish. I bet he didn't want anything to do with that bed, but he followed him in obedience. He was like, "You command it, I do it." It was of no value to that man anymore. That man didn't need that bed anymore. It was probably like a straw mat. That mat was of no value to that man, but you will see very soon it was of great value to some other people. That bed had great, great value.
I think, in the same way he follows Jesus' three commands, we would do well to approach the Christian life and our sanctification in the same way, that as the Lord commands certain things throughout the Scripture, we wouldn't go about it like a buffet, à la carte, and be like, "Well, I'll have a little fried rice. I'm going to pass on the steamed veggies. I'm going to go for some of that orange chicken, and I'm not going to have any fruit, but I'm going straight to the pudding afterward."
We treat it like a buffet, getting what we want, rather than following the whole counsel of God. As God says, "No. I want you to speak the truth in love. Here's a serving of that. I want you to have sexual integrity. Here's a serving of that. I want you to have good financial stewardship. Here's a serving of that," it's almost like Mama's plate, and what she puts on the plate you're going to eat for the good of your body, and that we would follow holistically the commands of God, knowing that Jesus wants a better 2022 for you than you do.
He longs for you to have a good and glorifying year, and that doesn't mean no suffering. That will be found in following Jesus. Follow all of the commands of Scripture, just like this man did. I think, too, we want profound answers. It's oftentimes these stories we tell each other and all that. We want profound answers rather than simple obedience. I've experienced this, having 16 years of sobriety from alcoholism.
People will come and be like, "Dude, you've got to tell me, because me too. What did you do?" I'm like, "Well, I'm glad you asked. I got a Bible. I just tore it apart. I just devoured it, every page, every word. I was so starved for God. I get on my knees and pray every day and just surrender my day to God, because I'm a really bad lord of my life, but he's a really good Lord of my life. And I got other believers around me, because I needed their help to keep me from the longings of the flesh. Then I joined a church, because I needed to be shepherded."
They're like, "Yeah. And then what?" I'm like, "Oh, that's it. That's it, actually." No shekinah glory. No Red Sea parting. No manna from heaven. I just followed Jesus as best I could every single day. For some, it's like, "Well, I maybe don't want to get healed that badly. That sounds like a whole lot of time and obedience. If there was only something magical…"
Jesus changes people. He does. I am not who I read on the first page of my journal. He changes people. So, if you don't have change, you may not have Jesus. That can sound heavy unless it's the most loving thing in the world to say, that we would test ourselves to see if we are in Christ, as Scripture says.
Some of us may be like, "Yeah, I don't have change. I need Jesus to be my Savior." For others, it's like, "I've trusted him as my Savior, but I'm still living this life of sin." First Corinthians 5 comes to mind, where there was a believer who had trusted in Jesus who was still steeped in sexual sin, and Paul said, "Turn him over to Satan for the destruction of his flesh, that his soul would be saved on the last day."
So, he's going to die in his unrepentant sin, and he'll be in heaven when he dies, but no more. No more saying you're a Christian and living un-Christlike. He's calling us to repentance, but also, church, I think sometimes it's like me watching my kids grow. I see them every single day. I don't see them growing. Then somebody else will come who hasn't been around us for a while and be like, "Oh my goodness! Your kids have grown so much." I'm like, "They have?" I don't see it.
So you may… While you're like, "Dude, I don't know if I'm changing. I don't know…" I'm looking at Ann, married to Tim, right now. I know there's change. They may not feel it. I've seen it. I have seen it with my eyes. There's change. So, ask those around you. You may not experience that, but there is change happening, because Jesus changes people.
Verse 10: "So the Jews…" So, he has been healed. He has his mat. He's walking. "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.'" They're total hall monitors of Jerusalem, just walking around like, "Why is that guy carrying his bed? You have six other days of the week to carry your bed. Not today, mister."
"But he answered them, 'The man who healed me, that man said to me, "Take up your bed, and walk."'" He literally gives them all of the commands of Jesus straight back and testifies to the healing. "They asked him, 'Who is the man who said to you, "Take up your bed and walk"?'" They're like, "All right. Now we don't have a problem with you. Now we have a problem with this misfit who's telling people to walk with their bed."
Do you know the irony of it? He's like, "The guy who healed me. I'm the paralyzed man at Bethesda for 38 years. You know who I am. I was healed." And they're like, "Yeah, yeah, yeah. Who told you to take your bed?" He's like, "I was healed!" They're like, "What about the bed?" "I was healed!" "But the bed." Because they cared so much about rules instead of a relationship.
Friends, what I'm trying to tell you is that man was carrying his bed to reach the dead. That's why Jesus said, "Get your bed and go for a walk." "I know there are people who don't believe the Messiah has come, so I need you to carry your bed to reach the dead." That was to be a sign unto them, that they would be like, "Oh, this is what Isaiah said. 'The lame walk.' Oh my goodness! It's Jesus. He's here." But they cared much more about the rules instead of a redeemer, and they missed him. Well, some. We know some Pharisees came to life.
It's why I tell people about my alcoholism, in case you're like, "Dude, I feel like you work your alcoholism into every single message. Can't you come up with some new tricks?" My alcoholism is not my identity. I haven't had a drink in 16 years. It's not who I am. I'm a follower of Jesus. I've been made new. But it is my testimony, so I will testify to the day I die. That's what Jesus saved me from, and a myriad of other things, but that is that sick, nasty bed I carried.
Frankly, I wish I didn't have that nasty bed. I wish it wasn't in my past. I wish for my children it won't be in their future, but I carry that bed to reach the dead, because I know that everybody has something they're dealing with. That is what I can testify to. It's not my identity, and I tell them that. They are sure to know I'm new in Christ, but that is the bed I carry in hopes to reach the dead. The question is…Will you do the same?
I don't tell them for me. I tell them for them. "There is a Jesus who made me well, and he can make you well too. He can heal you. What he did for me he will do for you." I think, sadly, by way of application (and hopefully we can erase this), we care more about our reputation than their salvation. Like, "Oh man, that would be super awkward to tell my coworker that I used to be a porn addict. Dude, that's kind of a nasty bed. Are you really asking me to carry that bed?"
Do you want to reach the dead? God will reach them. He's going to save who he's going to save, but he's looking for people who are willing to say, "This is the sin Jesus saved me from." Isn't that why we all needed Jesus in the first place, to save us from our sin? But somewhere along the way, we stopped talking about it. You testify. He's about saving souls, and thus every healing is unto Christ's revealing, just as it was here.
His signs are for the purpose of salvation of souls, which John tells us later from John 5 here in John 20. "Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these…" Meaning, the signs…the man, the mat, my drunkenness…all of it. "…are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name."
More than any other time, people are going to ask about New Year's resolutions right now…your coworkers, your fellow students, your roommates. "Did you make a resolution?" Great if you did. Tell them. Like, "Yeah, I'm going to start exercising. I'm going to get out of debt. I'm going to delete dating apps." But tell them also…
Use that as a bridge to be like, "But can I tell you something? Can I tell you the biggest change that has ever happened in my life? It wasn't because of a resolution. It was Jesus. Have I ever told you my story?" Their minds will be blown. Maybe there's not insta-conversion right there, but you just put a gospel rock in their shoe. God will use your former sickness to heal the present sickness in others.
We continue on. Verse 13: "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. Afterward Jesus found him in the temple and said to him, 'See, you are well! Sin no more, that nothing worse may happen to you.'" Two things. First, this man gets healed. He didn't know who he was. He says, "Sir, I have no one to help me into the water," and then Jesus just goes because of the crowds.
Then Jesus finds him back at the temple. When the man is healed, he's at the temple. People didn't go to the temple to get their steps in. They were at the temple to worship, to testify, to praise, to glorify God, to offer a thank offering. This man is like, "I got healed. I don't know what just happened. I'm going to the temple, because I'm worshiping Yahweh."
When you're healed from your sin, will you worship? Will you be found in the temple, so to say, worshiping, thanking God, giving your life as a thank offering? You have Jesus who heals all of the lepers, and only one returns. Jesus is like, "Where are the other nine? Were not ten healed? Did only this foreigner come to give thanks?" As the Samaritan leper came back and thanked Jesus, he was like, "Where's the rest?"
Sometimes I think we can think, "Well, it was my good work that got me the raise or my boss who gave it to me" or "It was my good looks, charm, and godly living that got me the girl" or "It was my effort that got me the scholarship and the whatever to get into school." Every gift is from the Lord. Will we be found in the temple worshiping God when the healing that we're longing for comes? Or from sin, the deliverance… Just one day. One day of deliverance. Will you be found thanking him?
Now you think about the man on the mat. Here he is in the temple after 38 years. Y'all, think about one day lying on a mat paralyzed. I get a migraine for two hours and I have a bad day. He was on a mat not for a day, a week, a month, a year…for 38 years. You think about the atrophied muscles, the bedsores. If he had a fly on his face, he couldn't wipe it away. If he needed to go to the bathroom, he had to yell to be carried.
Thirty-eight years, and Jesus comes to him and rejoices in the physical healing. "See, you're well." Then he says, "Sin no more, that something worse doesn't happen to you." Y'all, 38 years on a mat is horrific, and Jesus says, "Turn from your sin or it will be much, much, much worse than the last 38 years," because of the destructive nature of sin. Sin leads to death…emotional, mental, physical, social…all kinds of death just flood and infect your body. So Jesus is saying, "Repent."
Thomas Brooks, this Puritan, essentially said, "Take more pains to keep yourselves from sin than from suffering." Sometimes we're all about the comfort and the gain or whatever to make our lives easier. We're about reducing suffering. This great Puritan author is saying, "See that you take more pains to turn from sin than suffering," because he knew well what Jesus said. "Sin no more, that something worse doesn't happen to you."
Verse 15, in conclusion: "The man went away and told the Jews that it was Jesus who had healed him." He goes and testifies again. He's like, "Oh! He just walked up to me in the temple, the guy who told me. It was Jesus." Testifying again. "And this was why the Jews were persecuting Jesus, because he was doing these things on the Sabbath. But Jesus answered them…" Here he is, God in flesh.
"'My Father is working until now, and I am working.' This was why the Jews were seeking all the more to kill him, because not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God." God in flesh, and they missed him because of self-effort. "We will attain to the laws of God. We know we need to change, and we will change by our own self-effort. We don't need God. We don't want God." They knew they needed to be healed. They just thought they'd do it on their own.
Do you remember that Inc. magazine article I opened with? Well, the story continues. They say, "Hey, all of these resolutions generally are going to fail, so what you need to do is form a habit. If you form a habit, whatever you want changed is going to change." So, brothers and sisters, whatever is going on in your life, whatever sorrow, whatever ache, whatever pain, whatever sin, make your habit Jesus. It's as simple and profound as that. You make your habit Jesus and walk with him all day every day, and he will make you new. He will give you the healing you long for.
The same Jesus who healed me from alcoholism is the same Jesus who healed that man who was lying on a bed for 38 years. It's the same Jesus, Jehovah-Rapha, who delivered the Israelites out of Egypt. It's the same Jesus who walked in Bethesda, the house of mercy and lovingkindness, to heal on that day, and he's asking you today, "Do you want to get healed? Do you want to be healed? Follow me." Follow Jesus, and he will make you new. Let me pray.
Lord God, thank you so much for this story, for the man who quit staring at the water and started praying to the Father, the man who carried his bed to reach the dead for Jesus, Jehovah-Rapha, God of healing, who comforts us in all of our afflictions. You're here today because you said at the giving of the Great Commission, "Behold, I am with you always to the end of the age." So you're here today. The same one who walked through the Sheep Gate to Bethesda to heal the man is here today. "Do you want to get healed?" is the question you're asking us today. Lord, may we make a habit of walking with you and find that healing. In the mighty name of Jesus Christ, amen.