Text: John 5:1-9
In looking at the state of the church, it’s amazing to see a number of parallels in the Scriptures. One of the works given the average Churchian is to read Scripture, but they never understand and apply it. A good case in point is John 5:1-9, another Scripture you will almost never hear preached accurately.
After this there was a feast of the Jews; and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. Now there is at Jerusalem by the sheep market a pool, which is called in the Hebrew tongue Bethesda, having five porches. In these lay a great multitude of impotent folk, of blind, halt, withered, waiting for the moving of the water. For an angel went down at a certain season into the pool, and troubled the water: whosoever then first after the troubling of the water stepped in was made whole of whatsoever disease he had.
And a certain man was there, which had an infirmity thirty and eight years. When Jesus saw him lie, and knew that he had been now a long time in that case, he saith unto him, Wilt thou be made whole? The impotent man answered him, Sir, I have no man, when the water is troubled, to put me into the pool: but while I am coming, another steppeth down before me. Jesus saith unto him, Rise, take up thy bed, and walk. And immediately the man was made whole, and took up his bed, and walked: and on the same day was the sabbath.
Those that just read would dance over the story of the disabled man and say “Jesus did a miracle.” This is relevant, but not the story we need to learn, as anytime a miracle happens in Scripture there’s always an underlying message.
In the story, we are told that legions of disabled people gathered at this pool in the hopes that (as the legend goes) the angel that stirs the pool would do it and that someone would get them to the pool and they could be healed. We are told of a specific man, who obviously (unwritten) found men to get him to this place to begin with. The man had been waiting 38 years for this to happen until Jesus happens along.
Think of it. 38 years.
To this disabled man, this is just another man who he can plead to to bring to the water. But Jesus is no other man, He performs the miracle and the man walked out.
So what has this got to do with us?
This story should remind you of something. What is the average pattern of the church going person? They invite their friends to a “church” in the hopes that somehow they’ll find Jesus’ healing grace and mercy. They either stop going or adopt the Churchian culture, listening to a man in the pulpit who proclaims “Look to me; to me, in some of my formulas, to me in some of my developments, and be ye saved.” in the hopes that they will find the answer that they seek to fill the hole in their hearts. They’ll hear others proclaim that they’re good and that “Jesus” changed them, when it’s really the “church” that hyped them up. By looking at the fruit of their lives (Matthew 7:15-20), the unbiased can see they are nothing but white-washed sepulchers (Matthew 23:27), putting up an image on Sunday and just living the same old lives the rest of the days of the week. There are legions that have showed up and either give up waiting or wait just as this disabled man did. 20-30-40-50 years in the hope that they find something different, with the belief that their only requirements are to show up when the church doors are open and tithing to the church, lives never changing.
In the end, all men are as this disabled man. Often though, they do not believe that they have a need and do not see a need for Jesus. Or they see the need but think they can do it themselves by chasing after different things of the world. Or they see the need for change, and men bring them to this special place where they suggest that following certain rites and rituals, that they will find their healing and peace there and believe that and follow it through their lives to a profession of “I never knew you”. (Matthew 7:21-23) Or as in this day and age, they find the call that they need to have “a personal relationship with Jesus”, ultimately putting that trust in themselves. While many of that ilk will take this Scripture as a proof of their “personal relationship” need, yet they are never confronted with their evils and never pointed out that they need to surrender to Christ and give up their own ways and thoughts to find salvation in their lives.
Look at what the disabled man was trusting in. A special “holy” place. Rites and rituals. Other men. Not Christ. We could argue that the disabled man didn’t know better since Christ healed him after his profession of faith in the pool. But many, sadly, follow in this man’s stead in their lives who have very ample opportunity to know better. Life is as Jonah wrote, or as Christ spoke:
They that observe lying vanities forsake their own mercy. But I will sacrifice unto thee with the voice of thanksgiving; I will pay that that I have vowed. Salvation is of the LORD. (Jonah 2:8-9)
Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it. (Mat 7:13-14)
The crux of Christianity is so simple, yet men continually mess it up. There’s no other way to salvation but Christ, but men want to look to and depend on everything else but Him.