Sermon – Get Up, Take Your Mat and Walk (John 5:1 – 5:15) – Cornerstone Church Kingston
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The Book of John was authored by one of Jesus’ twelve disciples, John, who features in the gospel. John makes his mission for writing the book plain in 20:31; “that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.” He details the many words and claims of Jesus, as well as the various responses from those listening; in either faith, amazement, caution or rejection. Listen as Cornerstone preachers unpack the narrative and invite us to reflect on our own response to Jesus.

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Sermon 15 of 58

Get Up, Take Your Mat and Walk

Ben Read, John 5:1 - 5:15, 27 March 2022

Ben continues our series in John’s gospel, preaching from John 5:1-15. In this passage we see Jesus’ interaction with a lame man at the pool of Bethesda - and what it means for us today.

John 5:1 - 5:15

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. 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 walked.

Now that day was the Sabbath. 10 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.” 11 But he answered them, “The man who healed me, that man said to me, ‘Take up your bed, and walk.’12 They asked him, “Who is the man who said to you, ‘Take up your bed and walk’?” 13 Now the man who had been healed did not know who it was, for Jesus had withdrawn, as there was a crowd in the place. 14 Afterward Jesus found him in the temple and said to him, “See, you are well!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.” 15 The man went away and told the Jews that it was Jesus who had healed him.


Transcript (Auto-generated)

This transcript has been automatically generated, and therefore may not be 100% accurate.

Our reading tonight is from John chapter 5 versus 1 to 15 and that's on page 1 0 6 8 on the Church Bibles. John chapter 5 verses 1 to 15. Sometime later, Jesus went up to Jerusalem for 1 of the Jewish festivals. Now there was in Jerusalem near the sheepgains, a pool, which an aramaic is called Bethesda, and which is surrounded by 5 covered colonnades.

Here, a great number of disabled people used to lie. The blind, the lame, the paralyzed. 1 who was there had been an invalid for 38 years. When Jesus saw him lying there and learned that he had been in this condition for a long time, he asked him, do you want to get well Sir, the invalid replied, I have no 1 to help me into the pool when the water is stirred. While I'm trying to get in, someone else gets 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 mats and walked. The day on which this took place was the Sabbath And so the Jewish leaders said to the man who had been healed, it is the Sabbath, the law forbids you to carry your mat. But he replied, the man who made me well said to me, pick up your mat and walk. So they asked him, Who is this fellow who told you to pick up your battered walk or pick it up 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 well again. Stop sinning or something worse may happen to you. The man went away and told the Jewish leaders that it was Jesus who had made him well. And good evening, welcome from me.

My name is Ben. I'm a trainee pastor here at the church. If you're new or you're visiting, it's really lovely to have you. If you're joining online, it's good to have you as well. And to to regular brothers and sisters here, it's really good to see you.

I read this week that coming to a church service is like being led as a sheep into a new green pasture, and you feast on the word of God, on the fresh sort of blades of grass. But also, the songs and the prayers, and the seeing 1 another is all part of the the fresh juicy grass that we're led into. And I just I thought I was such a lovely picture. And that's what's happening tonight. And we're about to hear from God's Word.

He's gonna feed us. So I'm gonna pray, and then we'll when we'll look at this passage. Father, we thank you for what we've just sung. And we do pray that day would come quickly, the day where decay is slain by glory, what a wonderful line and picture that is. Lord, whilst we're here in this decaying world, thank you for your word, which sustains us and nourishes us.

Which changes us. Thank you for your Holy Spirit who gives us eyes to see and understand. We pray that as we look at your word now, you would you would do exactly that. You would change us. You would warm our hearts.

You would show us Christ. And we would be changed in Jesus' name, amen. Oh, man. Okay. This is actually this this passage in John chapter 5 is actually a passage that I was really pleased to preach on when we got given the preaching rotor.

Because it's 1 of those passages, and there's loads of these in the bible. Where you read it. And you sort of go, what? What's going on there? What on earth is all that about?

And then you get the chances of preachers to spend like a whole week or longer sort of thinking about it, reading about it, and it's just a real joy. A little bit like the floating axe head in 2 kings, if you remember that. We as preachers were jostling for that passage, and I got it. Because none of us had a clue what it was about. Why does an axe head?

An eye in axe head float to the Anyway, So I was really pleased to get this passage. What makes this passage even more intriguing is the fact that verse 4 is non existent. Wonder if you noticed that as we read it. You get verse 3. Here, a great number of disabled people used to lie, the blind, the lame, the paralyzed.

Verse 4, Best 5. 1 who was there being an invalid for 38 years. So in in the footer in your in your bible, you might see some along the lines of this. Some manuscripts include here, holier and part, paralyzed, and they waited for the moving of the waters. From time to time an angel of the lord would come down and stir up the waters.

The first 1 into the pool after each such disturbance be cured of whatever disease they had. Now the reason that's in the footer and not in the scripture itself, depending on what bible you have, is because it doesn't appear in the earliest manuscripts. It appears in manuscripts that were written later. And so it seems to be in addition. Someone added it.

And for that reason, people put it put it in, but in the footer just to make that nice and clear. But what's really interesting about it is that it is in line with what the man says to Jesus in verse 7. If you look at verse 7, It says Sir, the invalid replied. I have no 1 to help me into the pool when the water is stirred. While I'm trying to get in, someone else goes down ahead of me.

So from what this man says to Jesus, in that little interaction in verse 7, It's clear that at least he thinks, number 1, the pool is what heals you of whatever you've got, whether you're blind lame or paralyzed. The heating only happens when the water is stirred. And thirdly, it only seems to affect the first person who goes in. So whether verse 4 ought to be in the scripture or or not, it it does seem that at that time, there was a prevailing myth there was a kind of understanding that this pool had healing properties of some kind. And you combine that with the fact that the pool is called Bethesda, which means house of mercy.

That's what Bethesda means. House of mercy. It's got 5 covered colonnades, So it was kind of a place where people would congregate. And they sort of constructed these things to to create shelter and shade for the people who were there. You combined up the fact that a great number of disabled people used to lie there.

Now why why would a great number of disabled people used to lie there if if it were not a hospital of sorts or a place where they might get better? And after 38 years, this bloke is still waiting there by this pool. So you put all of that together, And clearly, there's a kind of belief at that time that when the waters of this pool was stirred, by an angel or otherwise, the first 1 in would be healed of whatever they had. Now When I was reading this, you sort of you sort of go, hey, what? That's mad that's mad, isn't it?

They're kinda crazy to think that. But actually, before we judge them too quickly, maybe they're not as crazy as you might think they are because in Israel's history, if you know the old testament, then there are stories where water cleanses people, heals people, transforms people. So think of naming, which is another 2 kings story where Elijah tells Neiman who's got leprosy to go and dip himself 7 times in the revert Jordan. And he does that, and he's cured of his leprosy because he's gone into the water. And you've also got things like the flood and Noah's Ark, where water covers the world and cleanses it and heals it in a sense of unrighteousness.

So Water is like a healing agent. It's in the religious psyche of of these people. It's in their sort of thinking. So there's there's that. There's also the fact That water has in itself natural, therapeutic, and healing qualities.

We call it hydrotherapy. Is what we call it. The Greeks and the Romans knew all about it. They used to they used to go mad with their baths, didn't they? For their sort of healing and therapeutic qualities.

So some people think this pool was connected to a natural spring, which had sort of sulfates and minerals in it. Some people think that maybe it was connected to a hot spring that would occasionally bubble up and stir the waters. And if that if that was the case, then actually you would expect some people who were in those waters to receive some kind of benefit. Whether they felt slightly relieved of their ailments or whether actually they were healed, or whether they just felt refreshed or better. Maybe that's why.

They called this Bethesda, the House of Mercy. And they believe that you might miraculously be healed by God. But I wanna say I think that it was a myth that an angel came and stirred up the waters. I don't think that is what's happening here. At least not how it's described, And my first point tonight is survival of the fittest.

Here's why, I don't think. That this is actually happening the way that the people thought it was. If you look down at verse 1, sometime later, Jesus went up to Jerusalem for 1 of the Jewish festivals. Now there is in Jerusalem near the sheep gate, a pool, which in Aramaic is called Bethesda, and which is surrounded by 5 covered colonnades. Here, a great number of disabled people used to lie, the blind, the lame, the paralyzed.

1 who was there had been an invalid for 38 years. When Jesus saw him lying there and learned that he had been in this condition for a long time, he asked him, do you want to get well? Sir, the invalid replied. I have no 1 to help me into the pool when the water is stirred. While I'm trying to get in, Somebody else goes down ahead of me.

So here's the picture. Here's what's going on. And actually, you have to get the idea of tourists on holiday out your mind, because here are people lying by a pool in Jerusalem, in the summer heat, covered gently under the shelter of these colonnades. Quite a nice picture. But actually, it's not a pretty picture.

It isn't it isn't a pretty sight this. If you stumbled across it, if you came to this pool, Because clearly, there's pain and there's suffering here. People are paralyzed here. There's poverty here. There's a likely abandonment here as well.

The blind led here and left. This bloke 38 years, no friends. Abandoned. Some people may be even lying in their own filth, unable to do anything about it. It isn't a pretty sight this.

But suddenly, from time to time, an Angel of the lord is meant to appear for no apparent reason. There's no forewarning. There's no sort of I'm gonna be there next Tuesday at 8 PM. It suddenly happens, and the water's stirred up. And whereas moments earlier, the the disabled people might have been talking to 1 another.

Maybe they're mates. Maybe it's like, Jim, how's the leg? Oh, mate. It's terrible. Yeah.

It's gammy. It's it's gotta be cut off. It's awful. How's the shoulder asked giving me real jip? And then suddenly, when they're mid conversation, the water's stuck, and then there's no concern for 1 another.

There you go, sorry, Jim. And then they sort of just dive straight in, first 1 into the water, and there's pushing now, there's shoving, there's pulling back, maybe. There's a kind of racing, I think, to to be the first 1 in, because remember, it's a limited offer. The first 1 in the pool is the 1 who's healed. So you wanna make sure you're in.

Yeah? While stocks last. You've gotta come and get it before anyone else gets comes in. I think it's a little bit like the the TV show, the apprentice. If you know that with Lord Allen Sugar.

Lord Allen Sugar. Lord Allen Sugar. I actually I hate the I really hate it. But what amazes me about that TV show is they're the best of mates in that house, aren't they? When they're in that house, And the alarm goes off and they're looking really groggy, and then they're doing their makeup at 4 30 in the morning.

They're best of mates, aren't they? And they're chatting to 1 another, and they're laughing. And then they get put on a team wanted 1 another, and they're like, yes. Yeah. I got them.

And they're on my team. Yeah. And then they're doing the task, and they're having a good time. And then suddenly, The water starts stirring and they're in the boardroom. Yeah?

And what happens? They absolutely turn on 1 another, don't they? They destroy 1 another. And they start saying, yeah, did absolutely nothing. He was useless.

Yeah. Well, shut up. You were useless. No. And they start talking over 1 another.

And lord sugar, no. Lord sugar. He's like, no. I've had enough. And they're quiet.

I don't know whether that's the editing or whether he has that gravitas. I'd love to know. But anyway, it's it amazes me. That that they do that. And it's even more amazing that after they've done that, they sort of go back to being best friends again, don't they?

It's incredible. They sort of throw each other under the bus, and then they get saved, and they go back to the house. And they're like, yay. And they all clap each other, and they come in. It's unbelievable.

Anyway, maybe you haven't seen it. But I actually think now now as much as I hate the apprentice, because it's just so ungodly, and I hate the boardroom. I hate it. I hate it. I hate it.

I actually think it's a fantastic case study of what humans are like. Because do you remember the toilet roll shortage of 20 20? Where people were pushing and scraping and shoving to be the first ones to get toilet paper off the shelves. Supermarkets at that time had to introduce a window of time in the morning. Do you remember this?

For the elderly and for the vulnerable to go shopping. Because if they didn't have that, we would come in and just scrape their shelves clear, leaving them unable to to to to buy things. We had to legally enforce care and provision for the vulnerable in our society. That has to be a law because without the law, we will not do it. They will never get to the front of the queue unless we legally enforce it.

Now humanity hasn't ever changed. It hasn't ever changed. We're not getting progressively better. We're the exact same. And the reason we know that is because that's what's going on here 2000 years ago.

Exactly what's going on here. Here was a man who's disabled, who's been like this for 38 years, And every time the water is stirred and he's trying to get up and get himself into the pool, there's a rush and somebody pushes past him. And says, nope. Sorry, mate. I'm going in.

Ignores him. Maybe literally even shoves him and takes his place in the water before he can get there. And that person, according to this myth, that person who pushes past, who races to be the first 1 in, who just regards everyone else, that person is the 1 who is rewarded with healing. That's what this angel is like, apparently. This angel seems to favor the fittest.

This angel seems to favor those who are more able to get into the pool. The ones you've got more friends to come and help you up and and hobble in. Maybe even people with more money who can buy their way to the front of the queue. Who can sort of say, yeah, well, if you don't go in the next time, I'll give you some cash. That's those are the people that this angel seems to favor.

And actually, I I worse than that, I actually think it it seems it actually seems completely indiscriminate, an arbitrary. It actually seems that it doesn't matter who gets there first, as long as someone gets there first. So this Angel, he just comes to stir up the water. And then after that, it's down to whoever can get in. The angel doesn't really care who gets it.

His job is just to come. Yep. There you go. Sturd. Now who's gonna get in?

And so this house of mercy actually becomes a mad, chaotic, selfish rush. Where the weakest and the most vulnerable are pushed back and totally ignored. And what's the result of that kind of ministry? What is the result of that kind of scraping the shelves before anyone else can get to them. What's the kind of what's the result of that sort of religion?

The result is a sick man who's been sick for 38 years because he can never get to the front of the queue. Here's why this has to be a myth. God is not like that. God is actually about the survival of the weakest, not the survival of the fittest. This is my second point.

Survival of the weakest. Now how do we know God is not like this myth? How do we know that This angel doesn't represent God. Well, God turns up in this story. God, the sun himself, steps into the scene, and we get to see what God's really gonna do at this house house of mercy.

And it's amazing. Out of all the places that God, the son, God, the son, could visit when he visits this world. When the queen goes on tour, where does she go? She goes to the sort of the high places. They roll out the red carpet for her.

She only goes to the palaces and the special places of honor, but where does God himself go to when he comes to this world? He goes to the hospital. Where the sick people are. And who does God go to at this hospital? He goes to the man at the back of the queue.

That's who God goes to. Verse 5. 1 who was there had been an invalid for 38 years. When Jesus saw him lying there and learned that he had been in this condition for a long time. He asked him, do you wanna get well?

And that word learned there when Jesus learned he'd been there a long time, that word learned carries a connotation of somebody telling him. So whether it's the Holy Spirit, and the Holy Spirit sort of reveals that he's been there a long time, or whether Jesus asks and says, how long has that man been there, or whether someone says, oh, did you know he's been there the longest? However, it is. It's seeing the man lying there and learning how long he's been there, that prompts Jesus to go to him. That's what compels Jesus to go to him out of everyone that's there.

So God isn't indifferent to our suffering. He's not there flipping a coin or just stirring up waters and seeing who gets in. He's moved by compassion towards the weakest people. And the most vulnerable. He actively goes to them first.

So here in Jesus is the true house of mercy. Jesus is the real Bethesda. The pool of Bethesda is the house of works. It's the house of the fittest. It's like a gym.

It's the house of whoever can get their way to the top, but here comes Jesus, who's the real Bethesda. He's the real house of mercy for the weakest. It's interesting. Last week, Chris was preaching. And we heard about an official who begs Jesus to come and heal his son.

He's just desperate. And he he begs Jesus. He says, sir. Come down before my child dies. That's how desperate this guy is.

Like, Jesus, you're the 1 who can heal. Please come and do it. But in this story, When Jesus gets to this invalid and he says, do you wanna do you wanna be made well? This man hasn't got a clue who Jesus is. Here's not got a clue what Jesus can do for him.

So instead of asking Jesus to heal him, say, yes. You're the healer. Oh, you're the bloke who healed the guy's son. Yes, heal me. He starts spouting some nonsense.

Here's Jesus. This decision, the the the doctor who says, do you wanna be healed? And this guy said, well, I'm got any mates to get me into that thing over there. To be honest every time I try and get in, someone else goes down ahead of me. It's absolute nonsense.

I actually think this has got flavors of Jesus interaction with the Samaritan woman at the well, who also remember didn't know him who he was when they first met. And Jesus says this to her. Which is a great line. He says, if you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, If you knew that, if you knew who was asking you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water So invalid. If you knew who it was that asked you whether you wanna be made well, you would have asked him, and he would have stirred up living waters within you and he would have made you well.

But he doesn't know who Jesus is. He doesn't know that he's the great doctor. He doesn't know what he can do, and so he doesn't ask Jesus. But this is the House of Mercy at work because in verse 8, Jesus says to him, get up, pick up your mat, and walk. And at once we're told.

The man was cured. He picked up his mat, and he walked 38 years. Who's 38 here tonight? Anyone 38? You're 38.

As long as Abri's being alive, Is that a long time brother? Yep. As long as Abri's been alive, this this bloke has been and invalid. He's been lying on a map. He's been unable to do anything.

He's been waiting and waiting and waiting. For the false religion that requires fitness to cure him. He's been waiting 38 years for a true friend to come and help him up, and it hasn't happened. But in an instant, Jesus breathes life into him with just his just his words, and he's got a renewed strength. That he's never had before.

And I I wanna say, do you see the power of Jesus' voice? Do you see the power of Jesus' voice? Because not only does this man's body obey the command to get up, because, you know, think about what's got to happen. He's got to have muscles that suddenly develop. That he's never had before.

His bones have got to strengthen. He's gotta drink a lot of milk all of a sudden to make sure he's got that calcium in his body. He's got to have, like, sinews and sort of various ligaments all joining together. He's had gotta have his his heart maybe has to increase in size to blood. To pump that blood that he doesn't normally have to pump down to his legs.

So his body obeys, the command to be healed. Get up, It's like the Hulk suddenly, transformation. But also, it's not just the body that obeys, but it's the man himself that obeys. Which is an amazing detail. Remember, this man isn't expecting to be healed.

When he sees Jesus, he just thinks, well, here's here's another man. So he's not priming himself to get up and obey Jesus' every word. He doesn't think anything special is gonna happen. And yet, when Jesus says get up, There's 0 hesitation. He's up straight away.

There's 0 skepticism that this is gonna work. He doesn't lie there and go, well, that's a silly thing. Say, mister, because I've been here for 38 years. Why on earth do you think I'm gonna get up? He doesn't just say any of it.

Does he? He just obeys. It's a little bit like the man with the withered hand in the temple. Pete talks about this quite a lot. That word withered doesn't just mean sort of like curled up, it means sort of shriveled away.

It's not even a hand anymore. So when Jesus says to him, stretch out your hand, it's a really silly thing to ask him to do. But not only does the man's hand heal and sort of become a hand again, but the man is compelled to obey. He doesn't stand there and go, sorry, Jesus. I haven't got a hand to stretch out.

He does it because the words and the voice of Jesus command into. And he can't do anything but obey. Think about the little girl who who died, and Jesus says to her Tali Thekum. It's a really lovely detail that we still have in the original language, isn't it? There's not many times in the scriptures where we hear the what what the words Jesus said, but he's a Taleficume.

Which means little girl, get up. Now she's dead. She can't have a conversation in her mind. Should I obey that? Should I not obey that?

She cannot do anything but obey, and she gets up. And it's amazing. And many people say that when Jesus raised lazarus from the grave, You have to specify, lazarus come out. Otherwise, everyone's gonna come out. He goes, no.

No. No. No. Yeah. No.

Yeah. No. Yeah. Get back. Get back.

Get back. You actually see that. If you look at verse 28 in this chapter, look down. Jesus says, do not be amazed at this. For a time is coming when all who were in their graves will hear his voice and come out.

Isn't that amazing? That is a confidence by the way. If you're a Christian here tonight, you will rise again because the power of Jesus' voice will call you from the grave, and you won't be able to do anything, but obey and rise and stand That's the power of the voice of Jesus. 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.

Now he's not being commanded to walk aimlessly here by Jesus. I had a funny picture in my mind of this guy getting up and just walking. And just never stopping because Jesus commanded me to walk. So I'm walking, and that's what I'm doing. And and I'm still walking because Jesus told me to get up and walk.

So I'm just gonna walk. I thought, where does he walk to? Where does his name talk to? But actually, I found out something quite interesting. The word for walk here, when Jesus says get up and walk, it's a combination of 2 words stuck together.

The first word is comprehensively around. And the second word is walk. So Jesus effectively says to him, walk completely around. Yeah? Maybe in a circle.

So, you know, get up and share everyone you can walk around. But I think that carries in itself more than just a physical command. That's kind of the command to repent. Walk completely around. And walk in a new way.

Walk in a new way of life. Think Jesus is saying. Because that's the call of Jesus, isn't it? That's really what he wants us to do. Get up and follow me.

It's what he says. Leave your nets. Follow me. Walk it completely around in a new direction. And that's what he's most interested in.

Actually, more than just this bloke being able to walk again, Jesus is more interested in the direction that he's walking in life. And we'll see that later on. So this is my third point. It is not lawful to pick up your mat, or if you know the slugs and bugsong, it is not lawful for you to pick up your mat. Where's Steve Sims?

The brother's not here. Are you watching Steve? That was for you. He loves that song. That's a slugs and bug song.

It's a great song. It's this story, but it's a song. You should listen to it when you get home. It's not lawful. So this man, he's up, he's walking, and he quickly get spotted by the Jewish leaders.

See that in verse 9. The day on which this took place was a Sabbath, and so the Jewish leaders said to the man who had been healed, It is the Sabbath, the law forbids you to carry your mat. Now notice this, there's no mention at all of the healing with the pharisees. They're not amazed by the fact that a man who's been ill 38 years is suddenly well. They only care about the minutiae of their law.

Their man made law they've come up with. And 1 of their laws was you could not carry the mat, a mat on the Sabbath. Now, here's the absurdity of their man made laws. Yeah? This is the absurdity of the law.

If the Matt carried the man, that's okay. If he's lying on it and he has to go home. Because he's been by the pool all day and the angel hasn't come, but he has to go home. He could be picked up and walked home. That's fine.

That's not breaking the law because it's a a person moving. But if the man carries the mat, ah. Now we have a problem. Yeah? So it doesn't matter.

Both items can make their way from 1 location to another, But depending on who's doing the carrying, that's what's gonna break the law or not. That's the absurdity of of these man made laws. So obeying Jesus' instruction to walk, 1 pick up the mat and walk, has resulted in this man breaking the law. But does that mean that Jesus' instruction is sinful? Jesus just commanded him to sin.

The man doesn't think so. Look at his reply in verse 11. But he replied, the man who made me well, said to me, pick up your mat and walk. You know, if if the man can make me well, surely, he's not then gonna tell me to sin by picking up my mat and walk. I mean, how could he, you just healed me?

He's surely from he surely got your authority to to tell me to do right things, isn't he? How could he then tell me to sin? Doesn't make any sense. First 12, so they asked him Who is this fellow who told you to pick it up and walk? Again, no interest in the fact that he's healed, No wonder in amazement.

And praise God, this guy who's 38 years can't walk and suddenly walk. First 13. The man who was healed had no idea who it was, for Jesus had slipped away into the crowd that was there. He didn't know who Jesus was before the healing. He doesn't know now, but look what happens next, verse 14.

Later, Jesus found him at the temple. It was Jesus who approached him by the pool, and it was Jesus who approaches him in the temple. Jesus makes the move the first move every time. And there's a promising sign here. He's in the temple.

Maybe he's gone to praise God. Maybe he's gone to give his life to God. Maybe he's gone to walk in a new way. It's a promising sign. But we'll see what happens because the healing was only a sign.

It wasn't an end in itself. And my final point tonight is a sign to the world signs to the world. Jesus doesn't do things randomly. He doesn't. He didn't pick this man.

On this day, with this healing and this command by chance. He knows exactly what he's doing. And there are at least 3 intended audiences for this sign. The first intended audience is to the man. This is a sign to this this specific man.

In verse 14, you'll see, Jesus says to him, see, you're well again. Yeah? And that sea is behold, So behold, you're well again. Pay attention to the fact that I've made you well. Look at the fact that you're well.

Have you seen that? You get it. Look look at the fact that you're well. Now here's the application. Stop sinning.

Or something worse may happen to you. This was the only sermon illustration. This bloke would ever need for the rest of his life, by the way. He was a captive for 38 years, He was let down by false religion. He was abandoned by the world.

He was sick and in need of a healer, and here comes Jesus. The true Bethesda. He's the 1 who releases captives. He's the 1 who heals the broken. He's the 1 who breathes life into people.

He's the 1 who calls you to walk in a new way. Now that had happened physically. Jesus says, behold your well. Look look at your legs. You're well.

And then he points from the physical to the spiritual. He says, stop sinning. Get up from your captivity to sin. Walk in a new way. Follow me.

That is the reason for this sign, by the way, to this man. That's why this man has been healed, because this is what Jesus is most interested in. Actually, Jesus is Jesus wants this man to walk you know, he's he's been ill 38 years. We don't know how old he is, but he's not he's not young. He hasn't got many years left, we don't think.

So, you know, Jesus is is not just interested in the fact that this man can walk for a few more years in this world. He's more interested in the fact that the man can walk in glory forever. That's really what he cares about. That's really what he's trying to get at. You know, Jesus wants you to have good good eyesight in this world.

He does. But he'd rather give you eyes to see the lord Jesus Christ. God wants you to be well and healthy in this world, but he would rather you be healed of your spiritual sickness, and you can live forever. Unfortunately, what is the first thing that this man does right after this? First 15, the man went away and told the Jewish leaders that it was Jesus who'd made him well.

Now this is a foreshadow of Judith, I think. Someone's received the blessing of Jesus, and yet they go straight back to the wicked pharisees with Jesus' name and dob him in. And actually, this bloke helps kick start the persecution that eventually leads to Jesus' death on the cross. You see that in verse 60? So because Jesus was doing these things on the Sabbath, the Jewish leaders began to persecute him.

This is the beginning of the persecution that ends up with Jesus' crucifixion. So this man gets up physically. But spiritually went and lay straight back down again by the Paul of Bethesda. Straight back down at the feet of the authorities, not trusting in Jesus, not walking in a new way. But going back to the old life, he was healed physically, but spiritually, he refused to be healed.

The sign for him was not heeded. And now look, honestly, I I This is the great thing about preaching. You have to put yourself under it, first of all, before you bring it to to everyone else. And I feel myself so much like this man. So much like this man.

Jesus commands me to walk in a new way. To stop sinning, and so often I find myself lying back down in the old life. Pride is sprung. Laziness sneaks in. Words are said, things are done.

It's frighteningly easy, isn't it? To go back and lie down in the old life? There's 1 particular way I've been confronted with my selfishness. You know, we're talking about people pushing past 1 another to get the benefit first, is 1 that I've had this week. Ukrainian families are coming over here.

We're talking as a church about hosting them. In different people's houses. Now we've got 1 bedroom flat. So I'm thinking, well, we can't do anything. And then Kerry says, why don't we go and live with some people and we can give our house to some Ukrainians?

Now we haven't discussed that further. And I said, well, let that mellow for a bit, Keri. Don't bring that to me and expect decision straight away. Look, we we need to have a conversation about this. Isn't me saying we're gonna do that.

Don't know if we will or not. We need to have a chat about it. But practicalities aside, insurance, and all of that stuff aside, I'll tell you my first reaction was, no. Thank you. It's my house.

And then God says to me, is it your husband? Really? Are you pushing past people to be the first 1 in the pool? I really need a rescuer because my heart is like the people pushing this man to the back of the queue. But this is why it's a sign for us today.

John says, we know we we hear this every week. John says at the end of his of this gospel, that these are signs given for us, that we might believe Jesus is the Messiah, and that by believing have life in his name. And that's what I want. That's what I need. I need life in Jesus name.

So what sign do we see here? Well, we see Jesus, We see that he's the true Bethesda. He's the true house of mercy. In in mercy, he's moved towards the weak and the vulnerable and the sinful He knew this man's heart, and he still moves towards him in love and mercy. He goes to those at the back of the queue, who sin and mess up.

Who find themselves lying in their old way again and again. And so I wanted to encourage anyone here. I know Christians we sort of look at the giants of Christians around us and think, wow. They're amazing. I'll never be like them.

And you sort of see yourself at the back of the queue. In many ways. I will encourage you by saying actually the last shall be first. And if you feel in yourself feeble and weak And Jesus is going to you first. That's that's what kind of God he is.

That's what kind of savior and rescue we have. He's come to release the captives at the back of the queue. By setting them free. And not just from physical conditions, but from what he calls something worse, sin and death. That's what he's come to rescue us from.

He's come to he's come to rescue us, and he's done that by becoming sin for us. It's interesting. Jesus refers to his death on the cross as a baptism. That he's to undergo. He says, I have a baptism to undergo.

He's talking about the cross. That means he's gonna be plunged into the waters of death. So that death might have no hold on you. Now that is a pool that you would gladly see Jesus push past you to get into first, isn't it? You are walking towards the the pool of God's wrath, and Jesus pushes you out the way and dives in straight first.

I say, praise God, go for it. Thank you, Lord. Even the sins that you commit as a Christian, after you've been told to walk in a new way and you find yourself lying down even though since he's come to pay for and deal with. So this is a sign for us. If you're a sinner here tonight, like me, this is a sign for us that we would believe Jesus is the Bethesda, the Savior, the promised 1 from God, and by believing that we'd have life in his name.

So do you see the sign? Do you see the sign? Do you believe? And my very final point is assigned to the Farices. Now I already said Jesus doesn't do things randomly.

So why did Jesus wait to do this on the Sabbath? Why did he wait to do it now. Why is he telling the man to pick up his mat and walk? He could have just said, leave your mat there. You don't need it anymore.

Just walk. And then the Farices won't sort of catch you, and I won't get into trouble. But actually, he does it specifically so that the Farices would pick up on it. He knows the pharisees love seeing little laws broken, and he wants to get their attention. Why?

Because he's come to die on the cross to set captives free, and the plan of God is that the pharisees would be the ones who drive him to the cross. So he's done this miracle in this way to this man on this day in accordance with the father's will that the pharisees would be provoked and that they would begin to persecute him. You see, rather than trying to escape the cross, some people think that Jesus just got caught, his luck ran out. He's always trying to slip away. Why did he slip away here?

It's not because he's trying to avoid the cross. It's because his time has not come yet. It is not my hour yet. Yower has not yet come, but it's coming. And he's not afraid of it.

He's walking towards it. In fact, in John 10, He says, the reason my father loves me is that I lay down my life. No 1 takes it from me, says Jesus. No 1 takes my life from me. I lay it down on my own accord.

Jesus is taking steps towards the cross, and he does that by causing the pharisees to to persecute him. This is not an unfortunate byproduct of this healing. Oh, it's a nice story. The story, Bethesda. It's a shame that persecution came as a result of it.

No. Jesus did it so that persecution would come, that he could walk towards the cross. So let's wrap this up. This is a sign for the man. Hold hold.

Pay attention. You're well. Yeah? Now stop sinning. Walk in a new way.

This is a sign for the pharisees. To enact God's plan so that Jesus can be led to the cross. This is a sign for us. Have we laid down in the old life again after having been told by Jesus to get up? And if you have, If you come back to the House of Mercy, the 1 who says, do you want to be made well?

What's your response to that? Get up says Jesus. Walk in a new way. Leave your life of sin. Take 30 seconds now.

When you think about these things, reflect on them, maybe even ask yourself, what is your response to Jesus when he says, do you want to be made well? And then I'll pray in 30 seconds. Father in heaven, we thank you that we don't have to guess what you're like. But in the Lord Jesus Christ, we see exactly what you'll like. And we thank you that you go to the back of the queue, to the weakest and the most vulnerable, to the sinners and the sinful people like us.

For the we're in desperate need of being healed. Thank you that you sent the Lord Jesus to the cross to heal us. I pray that we would confess our sense to you gladly We would acknowledge that we're in desperate need. And when he asks us, do you want to be made well, our answer would be yes. And you are the only 1 who can do it.

Thank you for what we see here. Help us to walk in this new way, to walk comprehensively around in a new new direction, help us not to go and lie back in the old life. We ask in Jesus' name, amen.

Preached by Ben Read
Ben Read photo

Ben is a Trainee Pastor at Cornerstone and lives with his wife Ceri who is a youth leader and helps run the women’s ministry in the church.

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