Summary: Here was a man, for 38 years unable to walk, a burden to others, & probably with little sense of self-worth. Let's see how Jesus dealt with this man and his needs. (Powerpoints - #203)
MELVIN M. NEWLAND, MINISTER
RIDGE CHAPEL, KANSAS, OK
(Powerpoints used with this message are available for free. Just email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and request #203.)
A. When you look around at the people who attend church on Sunday, what do you see? Do you see remarkable people, dressed in fine clothes who have it all together? Or do you see hurting people in need of comfort; troubled people in need of peace; sick people who need healing?
ILL. Marshall Hayden wrote an article entitled, "Would Every Non-Hurter Please Stand Up?" He pointed out that people come to church wearing their best clothes & their best smiles. Everybody looks happy, so we assume everything is okay.
But he suggested that we need to look beyond the facade & realize that the pews are full of hurting people.
He wrote, "Over here is a family with an income of $550 a week & expenses of nearly $800. Over there is a family with two children who, according to their dad, are failures. ‘You're stupid. You never do anything right,’ he is constantly telling them that. The lady over there found a lump that tested positive.
"There's a couple who just had a nasty fight. Each is thinking of divorce. Last Monday one man learned that he was being laid off. And there is a wife who has tried her best to cover the bruises her drunken husband inflicted when he came home Friday night.
"Then there are those of us with lesser hurts, but they don't seem so small to us: a boring job, a poor grade, a friend or parent who is unresponsive ...on & on the stories go. The lonely, the dying, the discouraged, they're all here."
B. And it was to such people that Jesus said, in Matthew 11:28-30, "Come to me, all you who are weary & burdened, & I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you & learn from me, for I am gentle & humble in heart, & you will find rest for your souls."
This is not to say that He will resolve every problem immediately, for Jesus clearly said that we will have trouble in this world. But He can resolve our problems if we trust in Him. In some cases, He may resolve the problem immediately. In other cases, He grants the power to endure the difficulty & triumph over it.
The healing of the lame man at the pool of Bethesda, recorded in John 5:1?15, is a dramatic example of this. Here was a man who for 38 years had been unable to walk, a burden to others, & probably with little sense of self?worth.
But Jesus had pity on him & healed him. And it's one of the few times the Scripture records Jesus healing someone when He was not asked to do so.
PROP. Let's see how Jesus dealt with this man & his needs, because I believe there are some lessons we can learn from it.
I. HE HAD TO DECIDE WHAT HE REALLY WANTED
A. First of all, Jesus encouraged the man to decide what he really wanted. Vs. 6 says, "When Jesus saw him lying there & learned that he had been in this condition for a long time, He asked him, ‘Do you want to get well?'"
That sounds like an absurd question. Of course this man wanted to get well! You wouldn't ask a starving man, "Do you want food?" would you?
Actually, it was a valid question, for there are people who, if given an oppor-tunity, might actually choose to remain sick. Right now they're free of some unpleasant responsibilities, & they get sympathy by complaining. They can manipulate people by being sick, or punish themselves if they feel guilty.
ILL. Dave Reavor, disabled Viet Nam veteran, tells of a young man in the 1960s who didn't want to be drafted. So he had all his teeth pulled out to make himself unfit for military duty. But when he took his physical, he was declared unfit because of flat feet!
So when Jesus asked, "Do you want to get well?" He seems to be saying, "You have friends who bring you here, & you've developed friendships with others who come here regularly. If I heal you, your life will do a complete reversal. You'll be expected to get a job & relate to people on a different basis. Are you ready for that change? Do you really want to get well?"
B. That's a question we may need to answer as well. What do you really want? The first step to gaining something is to want it.
ILL. Drs. Minirth & Meyer wrote a book entitled "Happiness Is a Choice." In it they said, "As psychiatrists, we cringe whenever … patients use the words, ‘I can't'… Any good psychiatrist knows that ‘I can't' … is merely a lame excuse. We insist that our patients stop saying ‘can't' & say ‘won't' instead."