Sunday, January 11, 2015                                    Perfection 2015 Index


Do You Want to Be Made Well?
John 5:6

 This year we are engaged in a study of the life of a Christian.  In our last lesson we discussed the need to go on to perfection as recorded in Hebrews 6:1.    If I were to ask if you want to grow to spiritual maturity, we would clearly affirm that.  And our intentions are good, but as time wears on and we face obstacles, our desire will become tested.  So our lessons this month are going to deal with our will to do what we ought to do.   Today we want to talk about determination. 

When appropriate, I want to begin our lessons with an account of scripture and make applications in our lives.  Today we want to discuss a question Jesus asked while in Jerusalem.

 I.                    The Context – John 5

a.        John 5:1-8 – background.  Still fairly early in the ministry of Jesus.  He is in Jerusalem for a feast.  Vs. 2 of this text describes a pool next to the sheep gate in Jerusalem that is called in Hebrew, Bethesda, having five porches (open areas around it).

b.       Vs. 3 tells us that this place was filled with people having all sorts of sickness – sick, blind, lame, paralyzed, etc.  I see it as a place that was not very sanitary, a place with lots of unclean people.  Perhaps it was a place where there were people who were poor and destitute and desperate.  A place where people were begging for help from others.  As such, it would be a place where the compassionate would visit and try to help them, giving them what they could.
We have places like this today – homeless shelters, recovery homes, places where the poor are on the streets begging.    

c.        They were there waiting to get in at the moving of the waters.  Vs. 4 tells us an angel went down at a certain time into the pool and stirred the water.  When this happened, the first to step in was made well of whatever disease he had.  WHAT exactly happened here we don’t know.  We can take it at face value and it would be a sacred place (only mentioned here in the Bible). 
HOWEVER, textually, the latter part of vs. 3 and all of verse 4 is not found in some of the earlier MSS.  (The NKJV, ASV and NASU all note that it is questioned.  The ESV omits it and inserts it in a footnote).  ANOTHER possibility is that the waters had some sort of content that made it conducive to healing (sometimes hot springs are very beneficial for health). 
That the place has some sort of recognition is clear because there were plenty of sick people there and as the paralytic explains in vs. 7, they saw something in the water.

However, whether it belongs or not is irrelevant to our observations.

d.       The man with the sickness.  Vs. 5 introduces a man who had an infirmity for 38 years.  How old he was we are not told, but we know that he has a debilitating illness that has been there a long time. And evidently, for a considerable length of time he had been coming to the pool of Bethesda, for he had a bed (a portable mat) there. 

e.       Jesus goes to this pool and asks THIS man (of all who were there), Do you want to be made well?  One might wonder why Jesus would ask this.  Why not just heal the man?  On many occasions, Jesus just healed people, even raising the dead.  Was there something holding this paralytic back?   
But we don’t know the mindset of the paralytic.  JESUS DID and He asked the question!

f.         The answer of the paralytic is also interesting. 
You would think the answer would be obvious.  You would think he would say, “Yes Lord, please heal me!  I want that more than anything right now!”  or “Absolutely!  Can You help me be made well?  What do I need to do?”  Instead, he gave an answer that is somewhat puzzling.  He said, “Sir, I have no man to put me in the pool when the water is stirred up; but while I am coming, another steps in before me.”  (vs. 7)    Could he have been expressing defeat, or at least frustration?  Or could it be that he was so used to being in his circumstances, being healed was the furthest thing from his mind? Perhaps he sincerely wanted to be made well and could not get to the waters in time and Jesus knew this.

g.        Whatever the reason, Jesus healed the man and tells him, “Rise, take up your bed and walk.”
Immediately the man was made well, took up his bed and walked.  

h.       We then read that this miracle was done on the Sabbath.  When the Jews saw the man carrying his bed they told him it was not lawful for him to do so (I suppose they deemed it work).  BUT, the healed man said that the one who healed him told him to take up his bed and walk.  The man did not know it was Jesus until Jesus found him in the temple.   THERE we find Jesus said something else worthy of consideration, “See, you have been made well.  Sin no more, lest a worse thing come upon you.”   

i.         The man departed and told the Jews it was Jesus.  As a result, the Jews persecuted Jesus.
The answer to our spiritual growth is found in Jesus!    When we determine to change, we need to take steps to “stay healed.”  Jesus can help us.  Keep your eye on Him.


 II.                  Do You Want to Be Made Well?

a.        Consider this sick man in John 5.  Jesus asked, “Do you want to be made well?”

                                                   i.      Jesus went directly to this man.  There were plenty of sick people around. Why him? Jesus focuses on him. Jesus knew something about him and thus asks the question.

                                                  ii.      In Jesus asking this question, as we have noted you would think the answer is obvious (“Yes”), but is such always the case?  Could there be some hesitation?  Consider that there were things would need to change by saying “yes.”  For example:
 1) If you are healed, you will no longer be a beggar here.   If he was depending on others to support and serve him that would change. 
2) Are you ready to live a changed life?  Things will be different from now on!  Are you ready for a new environment? 
3) Are you ready to take care of yourself?  Do you want to get better and get a job?  Others are providing for you – will you provide for yourself?

b.       Not all want to be made well? 

                                                   i.      What has caused me to consider this is because we KNOW there are people with this mindset today!  There are people living lives of mediocrity or even failure, lives addicted to sin, but they are satisfied to remain in their miserable condition.
OR while they might want change, they are unwilling to take the CHALLENGING steps necessary to bring change about.   So they CHOOSE to remain in failed circumstances – both physically AND spiritually. 

                                                  ii.      Some SAY they want to change, but their actions betray them!

                                                iii.      Some seek validation for their present condition – consider the rich, young ruler – Matt. 19:16-22.  He wanted Jesus to validate his lifestyle.  Jesus didn’t do it.  The rich man didn’t change!

                                                iv.      IT has been said, IF something is important to you, you will find a way.  If it is not, you will find an excuse! (We will talk more about excuses in a couple of weeks)

For example:  There are homeless people (not all of them, and I’m not saying it is not a real problem) who choose to remain that way.  They know that to get out of that situation, (unless someone bails them out without their having to do something) they have to quit drinking, get cleaned up and get a job.  And they are NOT willing to do that! 
There are people fighting addictions to substances (alcohol, drugs, cigarettes, etc.)  or unhealthy behaviors (pornography, gambling, debt, etc.) who would rather deal with their miserable circumstances than to put forth the necessary and HARD efforts to quit their addictions (I have heard of programs that will NOT admit one unless he comes himself (they will not accept a parent or friend asking to admit them OR a court order), because unless one REALLY wants to change himself, he is not going to do it).
I have heard of prisoners, who were uncomfortable when they were released, so they commit another crime to get back into jail, where they are comfortable with the surroundings.
Some people enjoy (though they won’t admit it) being miserable.  They are bitter or complaining all the time. They wallow in their own self-pity and failures in life.  They triumph in their aches and pains.  But they crave the attention it gets them, even if it’s negative attention at times. And they are not about to change!

c.        Do your REALLY want to be made well?

                                                   i.      The point of this lesson is not to emphasize that failures happen, but to let us know that we CAN change.  But what will it take?

                                                  ii.      A genuine desire to change!  “You are not willing” John 5:40, Matt. 23:37.   WE cannot approach the need for change with a mediocre attitude! 
We must MAKE UP OUR MINDS!  That is what TRUE resolve is about!

                                                iii.      True repentance – 2 Cor. 7:10-11

                                                iv.      A willingness to work at it!  You have got to want to change, MORE than you want to stay where you are at.  Take whatever steps are necessary to make the changes!
Consider what Jesus told the infirm man of our lesson – “Take up your bed and walk.”  In that expression we find that he had to LEAVE the area of the pool of Bethesda.  He had to move on in his life.  There are some bridges we need to burn!  Cf. 2 Pet. 2:20-22 – if not!!!!
Get rid of the weeds - Luke 8:14 in describing the thorny ground notes the heart that has divided loyalties.  You have to purge yourself of impurities to be pure.  James 4:8 calls for us to cleanse our hands and purify our hearts. 
Romans 6:12-14, do not let sin reign in your mortal bodies. 
Colossians 3:5, you put to death the ungodly members in your body. 

                                                  v.      A determination to not give up – when you walk away from sinful behavior and bad habits, you have to do so with a resolve that you will NEVER go back!  That means you put to death the man of sin Galatians 6:9 – we shall reap if we do not lose heart.
I am reminded of another example of healing in the life of Jesus.  The Canaanite woman whose daughter was demon possessed (Matt. 15:21-28).  She begs Jesus to help her and when he says no (for the time), she refuses to accept that and continues with determination to get His help.  He helps her!

                                                vi.      A trust in God – know that you CAN change and that is what He wants for us.  We are assured in 1 Cor. 10:13 that there is no sinful temptation we cannot handle and escape.
Romans 7:24-25, it is Christ who will deliver us from “this body of death.”

 III.                Making application

a.        So what does this have to do with our theme this year?  I want us to consider the question that Jesus asked the paralytic and make some application.

b.       As we examine our spiritual status, if we are to go on to perfection, one of the qualities that is absolutely necessary is a strong DESIRE to do the right thing and a willingness to change where it is needed   Emphasis on strong!  

c.        What about your faith?  Do you want 2015 to be a year where you grow spiritually?  Do you want this to be the year where your faith and knowledge reaches another plateau?

d.       Do you really want to be pure?

e.       Do you want greater courage in defending your faith?

f.         What about your family and relationships?

g.        What about the way you deal with your brethren?  Do you really want to get along with your brethren?

h.       What about my attitude about myself?

i.         Are there struggles you are dealing with?  Are there things in your life that are just wrong?  You waste time, do the wrong things, say the wrong things, waste your resources, etc.

 Do you really want to be made well?