Summary: The invalid man by the pool of Bethesda was so close to the healing waters, but yet so far away from being healed. The Jews who heard Jesus were so close to Him, so far away from genuine faith. Many go to church, and are so close to eternal life, but so f
Let’s turn in our Bibles to John chapter 5:
As you’re turning let me tell you a story I read recently....once upon a time there was an explorer by the name of “Guitan” who was famous for his daring adventures and grand discoveries. Now one day Guitan heard that there was a treasure in a cave just off the coast of the Mediterranean Sea. Even though this was a far journey the treasure seemed worth it, so he hired some sailors and a group of men, and set sail for the coast. But he ran into all kinds of unexpected difficulties, such as extremely rough seas and storms that required them to dump some of his food and supplies overboard to keep the ship from breaking up. He wrote in his diary nearly every day that things were getting worse, that they were daily losing supplies, and that they feared for their lives because of the rough seas and the distance they had yet to travel.
As the days went by he began recording the deaths of various sailors due to lack of food and supplies, and eventually in 1598 there were two men who reached the shore, Guitan and one of his sailors, and both were so weak from lack of food, and dehydrated from lack of water that they didn’t have the strength to go and search for food. They saw the cave in the distance, and they set out for it, sometimes walking, sometimes crawling, and along the way Guitan’s one remaining sailor died, but Guitan driven by the desire for treasure pressed on and came to the cave where it was said that treasure was hidden. But Guitan was weakened to the point of death, and his last diary entry was from the entrance to the cave, it was one sentence long, and it said, “So close, yet so far away.” And he died at the mouth of the cave, within a few feet of the treasure.
G. K. Chesterton says these two things about faith, "Men live on the brink of mysteries and harmonies into which they never enter and, with their hand on the door latch, they die on the outside." So close and yet so far away.
We have come to the beginning of a new chapter in the Bible, John chapter 5, and today I want to give an overview of this chapter, and in the following weeks we will look at it more closely. But I’ve titled the message this morning, “So Close and Yet So Far Away.”
I want to read Acts chapter 1 verse 1 to you. Acts was written by Luke the Physician, and he writes in Acts 1:1:
1 In my former book, Theophilus, I wrote about all that Jesus began to do and to teach Acts 1:1
All the gospels are about what Jesus did and taught. These two are always connected because what He taught explained what He did, and what He did confirmed what He taught. And so accordingly we have in John chapter 5 a miracle (what He did) and a message (what He taught).
Keep in mind the title, “So Close and Yet So Far Away” because there are two groups of people shown in this chapter who are very close, but are so far away.
First the miracle. We have the scene set before us, the scene is that of a pool that those who were disabled would lie around. People who were blind, lame and paralyzed used to lie around this pool because somehow the pool had healing properties to it. Do you notice how your Bible, if you are using the NIV goes right from verse 3 to verse 5? Where is verse 4? Well verse 4 is included in the King James version of the Bible. Now I have no desire whatsoever to enter into the KJV only battle, because that would defeat our purpose today, but I do want to quote verse 4 from the KJV:
“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 one into the pool after each disturbance would be cured of whatever disease he had.” Ah, now that gives us some important background information; the reason why all these disabled people were at this pool is because somehow it contained healing properties, as an angel would stir up the waters and people would be healed.
But there was one man that we are introduced to in verse 5 who had been an invalid for 38 years, and was unable to get into the pool. He can see the pool, he can probably smell the pool, he’s seen many other people go into the pool and come out healed. He’s so close, but so far away. He might as well be lying a million miles away, he can’t get to the pool.