There are times when a minister is led to certain texts, seemingly out of no where. Yet, I believe those times are by God’s direction. When I least expected it, I was drawn to John 5:1-15 which works well with last Wednesday’s study and I will also connect it with next week’s sermon and maybe one more to follow that. The subject is suffering. Now, like I said Wednesday night, we would be hard-pressed to find a person that has not suffered at some point by the end of their life. All have/will suffer to a certain degree. Jesus promises that as His disciples, we will suffer that much more for His name’s sake. I look at it this way: all people suffer to some degree or another and all Christians will suffer to a greater extent than all others. Wednesday we discussed John 9 which tells of a man who was born blind and Jesus teaches that the man was not blind because of any specific sin. Today, we are going to discuss a man who has an infirmity (it seems that he is paralyzed) which was caused by a specific sin of his own. Next week, we will talk about the fact that there is suffering and tragedy that happens without cause or we can call it “gratuitous grief.”
This is how I would like go about this sermon- First I would like for us to read it and then pray. Then I would like to go back and discuss some of the details and finally I will make a few main points, especially what is meant by “lest a worse thing come upon you.”
READ Scripture- This is the Word of God
Point 1: Details of the Passage1. It is not said what feast this is that the Jews are celebrating, but what is clear is that is the reason why Christ is in Jerusalem.
2. And the Scripture gives us another detail about a pool in Jerusalem. The pool is said to be by the Sheep Gate. In Nehemiah 3:1 we find that the priests rebuilt this gate, “Then Eliashib the high priest rose up with his brethren the priests and built the Sheep Gate; they consecrated it and hung its doors.” This was an important gate that would be for the sheep to be brought in for sacrifice.
3-4. Now at this pool there were five porches and in these five places there were many sick people waiting to find a miracle. We are told that they were there waiting for the water to be stirred and we find in verse four that the people believed that an angel came down to stir it and the first person in would be healed.
5. There was a man there that either many people had become acquainted with or that Jesus knew in a miraculous manner. I tend to believe that Jesus miraculously knew this man because many people would not have gone around this sick man.
6. It appears to me that Jesus sought this man out among a multitude of sick people. Now how many rabbis do we think would have gone into these five porches in the first place? Jesus had a mission to seek out this man. And Jesus asked him, “Do you want to be made well?”
7. The sick man doesn’t even say yes, but instead gives a very pitied response. After reading the entire account I come to the conclusion that this man had a lot of self-pity, he wanted it and attention from others, and that he was a trouble maker!
8. Jesus heals the man without any faith being demonstrated. He commands him to be healed.
9. The man was immediately healed just by Jesus’ words and the man took his bed and walked away with no since of gratitude. Maybe he didn’t want to be made well. Maybe he liked the attention from his family, maybe he liked the pity, and maybe he liked the free gifts that people gave him out of that pity. Then we find out that Jesus did this on the Sabbath.
10. The Jews immediately condemn what has happened as soon as they find out. It is even said that the Jews believed that if you carried a sewing needle in your pocket on the Sabbath that you were working and thus breaking the Law.
11-13. The man did not even take a moment to find out his healer’s name!
14. Afterwards, Jesus found him in the Temple. Jesus sought him out because he had not finished ministering to him.
Point 2: Lest a worse thing happen to you
Now what could be worse than 38 years on illness? I’m not sure if he was born with this illness or if he received it later in life, but it is clear that he had this problem most of his life because the majority of people didn’t even live to 38. The man’s infirmity is linked to his personal sin. There is no question. Now we will talk next week about the fact that every suffering is NOT caused by sin, but that does not rule out the fact that some suffering and pain are direct results of sin as in the case of this man.
Many understandings have been offered of what is meant by “a worse thing”:
1. Final Judgment
2. A Worse Physical Ailment
3. Eternal Consequences of Sin
I think that maybe all of these are meant, ultimately Wrath to come.
Point 3: Stop Sinning
Another major point that I would like to make is that there is enough suffering in this world so we don’t need any more caused by your/my personal sins. Proverbs 26:11 “As a dog returns to his own vomit, So a fool repeats his folly.” May we know that we are spiritually healed in order to repent. We should not harden our hearts against God's goodness and turn back to our sinful lifestyles and attitudes. Repent, turn from, your sins and turn to Christ. Christians face enough hardship in this world and need no more from brothers and sisters.
Conclusion:Jesus does warn the man and we could even say that he threatens the man. There is an element of threat in the Gospel message. If there wasn’t then there would be no reason for good news. The good news is that our sin is forgiven when we turn to Christ and that we can stop sinning so that something worse than the suffering of this life will not come upon us. The truth of the matter is that there is wrath to come and we must stop sinning so that we may escape it!
Now how do we stop sinning? We make Christ our treasure!
Turn to Him, trust Him, rely on Him, believe Him, abide in His words!