Summary: In this sermon, we explore the truth that God cannot help anyone who doesn't want help. But where there is a will, God is the way.
A. A father and son went fishing one summer day.
1. While they were out in the boat, the boy became curious about the world around him and began asking questions.
2. “Dad,” the boy asked, “how does this boat float?” His father replied, “Don’t rightly know son.”
3. A little later the boy asked, “Dad, how do fish breath underwater?” “Don’t rightly know, son.”
4. A few minutes passed and the boy asked, “Dad, why is the sky blue?” Again his father replied, “Don’t rightly know, son.”
5. Finally, the boy asked his father, “Dad, do you mind my asking you all these questions?”
6. “Of course not, son,” his father said with a smile, “If you don’t ask questions, you never learn nothin’.”
B. Today we are going to look at two of the most confusing things that Jesus ever said to anyone.
1. One of his statements is a question, the other is a warning.
2. The question that he asked the crippled man must have sounded kind of crazy. He asked the crippled man if he wanted to get well.
3. What kind of question is that?
4. But just like that boy in the opening story, if you don’t ask questions, you never learn nothin!
C. I’m getting a little ahead of myself.
1. Last week we started a series where we are exploring the fact that profound, genuine life-change is possible in Jesus Christ.
2. Today I want to establish what may be the fundamental issue that must be addressed if life-change is going to take place – and what is the fundamental issue? The WILL.
3. Let me ask you: Have you ever had a hard time figuring out what somebody really wants?
4. I’m sure you have. Many times we don’t even know what we really want! Right?
5. I’m also sure that we frustrate God much of the time. We say that we want a makeover of the heart, but in reality our heart really isn’t in it.
6. What we must understand is that there is no way, if there is no will.
D. Let’s look closely at the story that John tells about Jesus and the lame man in John 5.
1. We will start in verse 1, Some time later, Jesus went up to Jerusalem for a feast of the Jews. Now there is in Jerusalem near the Sheep Gate a pool, which in Aramaic is called Bethesda and which is surrounded by five covered colonnades. Here a great number of disabled people used to lie—the blind, the lame, the paralyzed. One who was there had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him lying there and learned that he had been in this condition for a long time, he asked him, “Do you want to get well?” “Sir,” the invalid replied, “I have no one to help me into the pool when the water is stirred. While I am trying to get in, someone else goes down ahead of me.”
2. Let’s stop a moment and explain the lame man’s reply.
3. Your Bible may have a margin note explaining that there is an additional verse in some of the lesser manuscripts.
4. It reads, “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 such disturbance would be cured of whatever disease he had.”
5. Now we don’t know if that is true or not. Maybe it was a superstition.
6. Maybe the pool was supplied by an underground stream that gurgled once in a while.
7. Or maybe God, in his grace, really did it. After all, there’s got to be a reason that all these people would lay here for years. They must have seen something.
8. At any rate, that’s why the lame man is there laying by the pool and that’s why he answered Jesus the way he did.
E. Let’s continue the story at verse 8, Then Jesus said to him, “Get up! Pick up your mat and walk.” At once the man was cured; he picked up his mat and walked. The day on which this took place was a Sabbath, and so the Jews said to the man who had been healed, “It is the Sabbath; the law forbids you to carry your mat.” But he replied, “The man who made me well said to me, ‘Pick up your mat and walk’ ” So they asked him, “Who is this fellow who told you to pick it up and walk?” The man who was healed had no idea who it was, for Jesus had slipped away into the crowd that was there. Later Jesus found him at the temple and said to him, “See, you are well again. Stop sinning or something worse may happen to you.”