6-Week Series: Against All Odds


Summary: Soon after the discovery of the New World, Europeans began making the long journey across the ocean in hopes of finding something. One of them was Ponce de Leon. In his quest to find gold, he met many Native Americans who told him of a spring that bubbled


John 5:1-15

INTRODUCTION: Soon after the discovery of the New World, Europeans began making the long journey across the ocean in hopes of finding something. Some were hoping to find a new life. Others wanted adventure. Some wanted religious freedom. And there were still others who came in search of gold. One was a Spanish conquistador by the name of Ponce de Leon. Ponce de Leon and his men were the first Europeans to explore Puerto Rico, parts of Mexico and Florida. In his quest to find gold, he met many Native Americans who told him of a spring that bubbled up out of the ground. It was said that this spring had magical powers. Anyone who drank the water would be healed of any disease or physical problem they might have. And their bodies would once again be youthful. It was appropriately called the "Fountain of Youth." De Leon made this destination his life-long pursuit; however, he was apparently unsuccessful as he died from a poisoned arrow in 1521. Many years earlier there was a different body of water that promised healing. Let’s take a look at Jesus’ encounter with the cripple by the pool.

1) Do you want to get well? (Vs. 1-7) Vs. 2-Bethesda-Hebrew means ‘the house of mercy’. Aptly named for this place of healing. Also apt in highlighting the mercy shown to the cripple. Vs. 4-(verse on margin of bible). The angelic stirring was allowed for the purpose of eventually pointing to the true source of healing-Jesus. Vs. 6. On the surface, this seems like a dumb question. We could imagine the cripple responding with, “Uh, hello. What do you think I’m waiting by this pool for, swimming lessons?” Questions with seemingly obvious answers. Like when your father asked, “Do you want a spanking?” However, Jesus never asked an insignificant question. This was really a question of deep significance. Since he was in this condition for a long time, and since his source of income was no doubt begging, he was accustomed to this particular lifestyle. Saying, ‘yes’ to Jesus would mean that all that would have to change. What he had grown accustomed to for all these years would now be completely changed. Was he ready for that? What about us? We might be ‘crippled’ by sin. We might be ‘crippled’ by comfort. We might be ‘crippled’ by convenience. These are things the Lord would wish to ‘heal’ us from but he would ask the same question, “Do you want to get well? If you say you want to be a better Christian then I’ll put you in situations that will challenge you to be a better Christian. If you say you want more out of life then I will put you in situations and equip you to move forward.” When the realization of what we say we want is staring us in the face will we take the step of faith and move? “Do you want to get well?” KJV-‘made whole’. This constitutes something deeper than just physical healing. The point of Jesus’ question can also be taken as if to say, “This water claims to promise physical healing. I have the promise of living water, for a deeper healing.” Just like the woman at the well. He offered her something greater than literal water; he offered her living water. Jesus is offering this cripple something more than just physical healing; he’s offering him spiritual healing. Last week I shared the story about the ten that were healed of leprosy. Only one came back to thank Jesus. Jesus responded to him by saying, ‘your faith has made you well’. He had already been cleansed, but now he was made well [deeper]. So it is in this question of Jesus to the cripple. He wasn’t just asking if he wanted to be healed from his crippling disease, he was asking more than that. “Do you want to get well; physically, emotionally, psychologically, spiritually?” Do you want to be made whole? What do we turn to in order to try to be “made whole”? Self-help books? Quick fixes? Is our hope in a pill or a procedure? In John 5 the people were trusting in a magic pool more for healing. The pool’s water was limited-it healed only when it was stirred up and that only for the first one in. Jesus offered something far better-he could heal anyone, anywhere at any time. So it is today. Not that there’s no value in medicine or procedures or certain therapies. We need doctors and hospitals and such but they can only do so much. Jesus is the only one who can really make us well; that is, if that’s what we want. Vs. 7. The man didn’t answer Jesus’ question. He just offered an excuse. Why didn’t the man get excited and answer, “Yes, I want to be healed. Will you help me get into the pool before anyone else gets in there? Please, I really want to be healed. C’mon, let’s go!” But instead, his was a response of despondency. Perhaps much of his hope had left him yet not entirely for he was still there. I mean, you have to hand it to the guy. He kept coming back time after time, hoping that this time would be the one. Where are you in your hope? Have you, like this cripple, been afflicted so long you are wondering if healing will ever come? Is the discouragement of the past dictating your present hope? In a sermon by Guy Caley, he writes, “When Jesus asks "do you want to be healed from your hurts?" Do we reply, "You don’t know how bad they hurt me"? When Jesus asks "do you want to be delivered from your sin? Do we counter with, "I just can’t control myself"? When Jesus asks the addict, "do you want to overcome?" Is the answer, "I have an addiction? It’s a disease and it’s not my fault"? When Jesus asks, "do you want to be saved?" Will you excuse yourself, "I’m not nearly as bad as other people I know"? Jesus said to the cripple "Do you want to get well?" And he replied, "I don’t have anyone to put me in." To receive the healing Jesus has for our lives we must put away our excuses.” Max Lucado in his book “Just Like Jesus” told a story about his little daughter Jenna. He writes, “When my daughter Jenna was a toddler, I used to take her to a park not far from our apartment. One day as she was playing in a sandbox, an ice-cream salesman approached us. I purchased her a treat, and when I turned to give it to her, I saw her mouth was full of sand. Where I intended to put a delicacy, she had put dirt. I carried her over to the water fountain and washed out her mouth. Why? Because I love her. God does the same for us. He holds us over the fountain. “Spit out the dirt, honey,” our Father urges. “I’ve got something better for you.” And so he cleanses us of filth: immorality, dishonesty, prejudice, bitterness, greed. We don’t enjoy the cleansing; sometimes we even opt for the dirt over the ice cream. “I can eat dirt if I want to!” we pout and proclaim. Which is true—we can. But if we do, the loss is ours. God has a better offer. He wants us to be just like Jesus.” Do you want ice cream or do you want dirt? Do you want to be healed or do you want to stay lame? Sounds like a no-brainer but yet if it’s really that simple then why are we not choosing to spit out the dirt?

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