The Price of '...Making Men Whole...'! John 5:14-18

Text:  Afterward Jesus findeth him (the former impotent man) in the temple, and said unto him, Behold, thou art made whole; sin no more, lest a worse thing come unto thee.
John 5:14.
          This people draweth nigh unto Me (Jesus) with their mouth, and honoureth Me with their lips; but their heart is far from Me.  But in vain do they worship Me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.
Matthew 15:8-9.

Good morning, Bible-believing Christian!  If Gods Word teaches Gods way of doing things - you believe it.  If Gods Word teaches against a certain practice - you firmly believe such a practice is wrong.  You seek to obey Almighty God, as opposed to mindlessly obeying the rules of mere fallible men.  Praise God, you do well, Bible-believing Christian!  We honour the Lord God when we seek to obey His will as revealed in His God-breathed Word.

The prophet that hath a dream, let him tell a dream; and he that hath My Word, let him speak My Word faithfully.  What is the chaff to the wheat? Saith the Lord.  Is not My Word like a fire?  Saith the Lord; and like a hammer that breaketh the rock (of unbelief) in pieces?  (Jeremiah 23:28-29)

This mornings journey in Johns Gospel continues to examine Christs healing of the impotent man at the Pool of Bethesda. 

Following the dramatic healing, the Lord Jesus found the healed man in the temple. (V.14)  No doubt this grateful man whom, for the first time in thirty-eight long years, found himself healed of his infirmities - was in the correct place, probably giving deep thanks to the God of Israel Who had sent His Christ to perform such a gracious healing upon him.  (Exodus 15:26b)

Think for just a moment about how this man must have felt.  His infirmity had been a daily and constant debilitation throughout thirty-eight long years of his life.  Now, it was GONE!  He was loosed from the pain; the shame; the strain - of being physically and mentally challenged in this manner!  Wow!  What a deliverance!  What a new sense of freedom!  What depth of joy must have flooded this healed mans heart!  What a blessed relief!

Do you really believe this man was thankful?  I certainly do. No doubt, he was in that temple, not to thank his lucky stars, but to give sincere thanks unto God for delivering him in such a truly miraculous manner.  Hallelujah! 

No half miracles with the Lord God Jehovah - Father, Son and Holy Ghost.  There is no Lord God other than our great Creator Lord God.

Look unto Me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth; for I am God, and there is none else.  (Isaiah 45:22)

Remember the former things of old; for I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like Me.  (Isaiah 46:9)

On the day of this poor mans healing, do you think HE believed the above facts?  I just KNOW he did.  He was absolutely certain that the Christ of God had healed him every whit whole, and he was there to give humble thanks.

However, there was a great Price to be paid for bringing about such healing -  not by the man healed - but by the one Who had healed his impotent body; the Lord Jesus Christ.  “…He was wounded for our transgressions…”

Immediately the religious leaders ‘…sought to slay Himsought the more to kill Him…’  Why?  For breaking the rigid religious laws they were outwardly upholding, in order to do a true work of righteousness and compassion - and for daring to declare boldly, ‘…that God was His Father…’ (Vs 16; 18) 

They loved the letter of the law, rather than the Giver of the law!

How often do you and I hear of sincere Christian servants who, being less than fallible, have broken some denominational law; some religious taboo within a given church setting - and been forever callously forbidden by the church leadership to serve the Lord to the full potential that the Lord has seen fit to gift him or her?   “…Who did hinder you?, repentant Christian.

This is just another case of ‘…teaching for doctrines the commandments of men…’; or worse, unjustly interpreting Gods written Word on a matter in order to keep a sincere Christian out of full service to God. 

This should not be, beloved Christian, we cannot hinder another man/womans service to God because that servant of God has at one time fallen short of some too often unattainable standard of imagined PERFECTION. 

‘‘There is none righteous, no not onethere is no difference, all have sinned…’’  (Romans 3:10;22-23)

Let us, therefore, be Bible-believing Christians indeed, and always be ready to show compassion on a fellow-believer who has fallen or failed in some way.

Thought:  Soldiers that go unwounded, are seldom ever in the Battle!

No Man to Help! John 5:1-13

Text:  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.
John 5:7.

          I looked on my right hand, and beheld, but there was no man that would know me; refuge failed me; no man cared for my soul.
Psalm 142:4.

Good morning, caring Christian!  In the midst of lifes troubled waters, you are ever ready to lend a hand to those in greatest need; you are ever there to uphold the afflicted in prayer; you are always most willing to share vital resources as your Lord leads and directs you so to do.  Praise God for such genuinely caring Christians!  Christ Jesus is glorified in you, daily.

Ye are the salt of the earthye are the light of the world.  A city that is set on an hill cannot be hidLet your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in Heaven.  (Matthew 5:13-16)

Bethesda:  Now there is at Jerusalem by the sheep market (gate) a pool, which is called Bethesda, having five porches.  (John 5:2)

Bethesda was a spring-fed pool, surrounded by five porches, where Jesus healed the man who had been sick for thirty-eight years.  The only record indicating its location places it near the Sheep Gate.  Apparently this carries the inference that it was in the northeast part of the city, for according to Josephus and various ancient authorities, the principal sheep market in Jerusalem was located north of the temple area just as, at the present time, the Arab sheep market is located outside Herods Gate.  Also, the Medaba map (fifth century) located the pool in this section which is known as Bezetha.

In 1888 repairs were being made on St Annes Church, in this northeast section of Jerusalem, when what seemed to be a large reservoir was located.  Professor Conrad Schick, who was consulted, organized an expedition and uncovered the entire area down to the Roman level, revealing two large pools with five porches and numerous fragments of columns and capitals - all in Roman style, but evidently somewhat later than the time of Christ.  There were steep, winding steps leading down to the pools, and on a prominent wall of one of the porches was a faded fresco of an angel in the act of troubling the waters.  Here was Bethesda, according to the tradition of the early church.  (Thompson Chain Reference Bible, Archaeological Supplement 4343, page 1730)

The Bible - Reliable History:  The Bible is the only record we have of the life and teachings of Jesus.  And if we are to take Jesus seriously then the Bible must be proved accurate.  The New Testament is not a myth - myths happen once upon a time in a faraway place.  The New Testament is written in a space-time dimension.  The context gives specific times, persons, events, and places which offer themselves for verification.  Contemporary documents with the New Testament verify the accuracy in regard to such statements as culture, politics, morals, and religion of that particular period of time.  Also archaeology has added its findings to corroborate the accuracy of the New Testament.  The books of the New Testament were written and circulated during the very time the people lived, while they were able to deny what was written.

Examples: Bible Reference:

The Birth of Christ (Matthew 2:1; Luke 2:1-7);

Specific Names and Times:  (Luke 3:1-3)

Luke wrote down the facts in order:  (Luke 1:1-4).

If the New Testament were a collection of secular writings, their authenticity would generally be regarded as beyond all doubt.  F.F. Bruce compares the manuscript evidence of the New Testament with the evidence for the writings of the same period.

Caesars Gallic Wars (58-50BC)                           - 10 manuscripts;

Roman History of Livy (59BC-17AD)                   - 20 manuscripts;

History of Herodotus (480-425BC)                        -  8 manuscripts;

History of Tacitus and Annals of Tacitus (100AD)  -  2 manuscripts;

New Testament                                             -  4000 manuscripts.

The New Testament has 100 times more manuscript support than all the others combined.  Who are parking their brains - the believers or the unbelievers?

About Jesus we have to write not theology but history.  H.G. Wells.

Will Durant - one of Americas foremost historians - His source material for the entire chapters on Jesus and the apostles was the New Testament.

Sir William Ramsey of Great Britain started out as an unbeliever and changed his mind because of his archaeological research.

Think About It:  Why would the Bible writers give so much specific details, if what they said was not true?

Archaeology supports the New Testament.  Ancient writers support the New Testament.  People have been trying to disprove the New Testament for centuries without success.  If the New Testament is reliable history - what are the implications?  (Art Matthew, Londonderry, The Bible - Reliable History)

The angel troubled the waters of the pool at Bethesda, but Gods truth troubles the waters of human unbelief, and brings Eternal healing to those who allow themselves to be helped into knowledge of the Saviour of sinners souls, the Living Lord Jesus Christ.  (Acts 4:12) (Luke 19:10)

Thought:  Who will YOU and I help into this healing knowledge today?

Hindered Christianity? John 4:43-54

Text:  For Jesus Himself testifieth, that a prophet hath no honour in his own country.
                                                                                                              John 4:44.
          But Jesus said unto them, A prophet is not without honour, but in his own country, and among his own kin, and in his own house.  And He could there do no mighty work, save that He laid His hands upon a few sick folk, and healed them.  And He marveled because of their unbelief…’”
Mark 6:4-6.

Good morning, hindered Christian!  The Lord God has given you many talents and abilities to serve Him well - in the preaching of His Word; in witnessing to family, friends, and fellow employees.   But you feel you are not being used of God to your full potential; you feel frustrated that your God-given talents are not being utilized to their full extent.  Well, dear friend, join the club, as we say here in Ulster.  Both you and I have experienced great and grievous hindrances - but the Lord is not finished with us yet!  Praise His Holy and Omnipotent Name! 

“…In the world ye shall have tribulation; but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.  (John 16:33)

Ye did run well; who did hinder you?"  (Galatians 5:7)

Hindrances to Full Christian Service:

The World:  The world I define as all those that are yet unregenerate in spirit; those who have never subjected their will to the will of God in Christ Jesus; those that are still, as the Scriptures teach, ‘…of their father, the devil…’ - and doing the ungodly works of their father the devil. 

Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do.  He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him.  When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own; for he is a liar, and the father of it.  (John 8:44)

Such worldlings and worldly practices will always seek to hinder the child of God from fulfilling his/her full potential in service to Christ Jesus.  This is a clear fact that we can all relate to in a personal manner.  The world hinders us - if we let them do so.

The Flesh:  Our own treacherous flesh hinders us day by day.  We are natural born sinners; and as such we sin naturally.  Even the great apostle Paul acknowledged this clear hindering fact in his Roman epistle.

For I delight in the law of God after the inward man (his born again spirit/mind); but I see another law in my members (his flesh), warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity (failings) to the law of sin which is in my members.  (Romans 7:22-23)

Our own natural flesh, so prone to sin, is a constant hindrance to more fully serving our Lord Jesus in constant victory over sin and in power.  Its a fact.

The Devil:   The devil is a very real person, my friend, not some mythological concept conjured up by religious minds.  If there is no literal devil, then the Bible is not true, and we Christians are all living in cloud-cuckoo-land!  Satan, that old Serpent, is alive and kicking against the will of God in this 21st Century, even though he knows that his time is short.

“…the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night.  And they overcame him (Satan) by the Blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimonyWoe to the inhabiters of the earth and of the sea!  For the devil is come down unto you, having great wrath, because he knoweth that he hath but a short time.  (Revelation 12:12)

Other Christian Hinderers:  From my own personal experience, I would place others professing Christ as their Saviour, as the fourth greatest hindrance to the Christian that wishes to serve Christ to the best of his/her potential.  This is so sad, but true nonetheless.  Some Christians oppose Christians who are zealous to serve Christ, and in doing so, oppose Christ!  Please take heed!

And a mans foes shall be they of his own household. (Matthew 10:36)

Dry formalism; or its opposite, outrageously happy-clappy Christian groups can measure another Christians zeal to serve by their own human reasoning and particular mode of religious practice. If the zealous Christian does not dot Is and stroke Ts in exactly the same manner as the group - they are either ostracized, or denied opportunity to serve Christ within such a church setting.

In this manner, talents given by Christ to serve the church are treated with the utmost contempt - and the fervent and faithful Christian is denied opportunity to serve the Lord God.  Such hindrances are CONTEMPTIBLE.

Thought:  Encourage Christian service - discourage all hindrances to Godliness!