Online Worship for Epiphany Three, Sunday January 23, 2022
Sermon for Epiphany 3 – The Third Sign
Calvary/Marquette – Soli Deo Gloria
Grace to you and peace from God our Father
and the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.
John 5:1-18 (ESV)
After this there was a feast of the Jews, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem.
2 Now there is in Jerusalem by the Sheep Gate a pool, in Aramaic called Bethesda, which has five roofed colonnades. 3 In these lay a multitude of invalids—blind, lame, and paralyzed. 5 One man was there who had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. 6 When Jesus saw him lying there and knew that he had already been there a long time, he said to him, “Do you want to be healed?” 7 The sick man answered him, “Sir, I have no one to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up, and while I am going another steps down before me.” 8 Jesus said to him, “Get up, take up your bed, and walk.” 9 And at once the man was healed, and he took up his bed and walked.
Now that day was the Sabbath. 10 So the Jews said to the man who had been healed, “It is the Sabbath, and it is not lawful for you to take up your bed.” 11 But he answered them, “The man who healed me, that man said to me, ‘Take up your bed, and walk.’ ” 12 They asked him, “Who is the man who said to you, ‘Take up your bed and walk’?” 13 Now the man who had been healed did not know who it was, for Jesus had withdrawn, as there was a crowd in the place.
14 Afterward Jesus found him in the temple and said to him, “See, you are well! Sin no more, that nothing worse may happen to you.” 15 The man went away and told the Jews that it was Jesus who had healed him. 16 And this was why the Jews were persecuting Jesus, because he was doing these things on the Sabbath. 17 But Jesus answered them, “My Father is working until now, and I am working.”
18 This was why the Jews were seeking all the more to kill him, because not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God.
In the Name of Jesus Christ,
Son of God and Healer of the Crippled,
Dear Fellow Redeemed by His Blood –
It must have been in some ways like a makeshift Jewish MASH Unit – without the surgical hospital – because of the water’s supposed healing qualities.
It was located near the Sheep Gate – a gate so named because the sheep intended for sacrifice in the Temple passed through it – on the northeast corner of the city.
It was a pool called Bethesda (which means House of Mercy) and is thought to have been about 55 feet long and 12 ½ feet wide – with 24 steps leading down to the water’s edge. This pool was fed by the intermittent bubbling of a natural spring, and was surrounded by five porches with roofs to shade the people from weather and sun.
It was here that the people of Jerusalem were accustomed to bringing their lame, blind, crippled and those wasting away. They brought them there because it was thought that when the bubbles rose to the surface of the pool it was because an angel was stirring up the water. It may be that the waters had some healing qualities, for cannot God Himself use anything He desires to speed the healing process?
Yes, let doctors treat and prescribe – but it is God that heals.
The Pool called Bethesda must have been especially busy in those days – because a Jewish festival was being observed in Jerusalem. It may have been one of the three important festivals required of every Jewish male and so Jesus Himself traveled from Cana in Galilee to Jerusalem.
Jesus came to the pool called Bethesda to seek out a man who had lost hope, who was without friends, sick and alone. On the heels of the second noted miracle in John’s Gospel, the Spirit of God directs our attention to the third sign, the healing of a paralyzed man.
We have seen the first two signs and have learned from them that Jesus is the Son of God, the Lord over Creation and the Lord of Life. Today we see him as the Son of God, the Healer of the Crippled – both those crippled in body and in mind.
May God the Holy Spirit open our eyes and hearts again this day, that we may see the signs and be led again to worship Jesus, the Son of God and the Healer of the Crippled. Amen.
It’s one thing to have a disability in the twilight years of one’s life, but when Jesus came to the Bethesda – he came upon a man who had been crippled for some 38 years. It seems that he may have been paralyzed or at least unable to walk.
The Scripture here also indicates that he had tried without success to find cleansing in the pool. When Jesus sought him out, he came upon a man who besides being crippled was alone, without friends and without hope.
Jesus singled him out, not because he believed in Him – but to show us all that He is the Son of God and the healer of the crippled.
When Jesus saw him lying there, and knew that he already had been in that condition a long time, He said to him, “Do you want to be made well?”
What do these two questions have in common – “Would you like a million dollars?” “Do you want to be made well?” They both seem like questions easy to answer. Who would say no to a million bucks? What paralyzed man would say, ‘Well, let me think about it. Hmmm, would I like to be made well? Well, I suppose.’ Jesus’ question may seem nonsensical to us at first.
Do you want to get well, to stand on your feet after 38 years of lying helpless and hopeless? Yes, of course.
We should notice however that the paralyzed man didn’t ask for Jesus’ help. He didn’t come to Jesus like the nobleman had, he didn’t ask at all. Why? Was it because he had lost all hope of being cured? Was it because he didn’t know who Jesus was and what He could do for him? Was it because he was satisfied making a living doing nothing?
We can’t say why the man didn’t ask for Jesus’ help, but the man’s response shows us something about the man --
7 The sick man answered Him, “Sir, I have no man to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up; but while I am coming, another steps down before me.”
This man didn’t know who Jesus was and took no notice of him. He didn’t imagine that Jesus was offering to heal him or that he could. It seems that he thought the best Jesus might offer was some assistance to the water’s edge. He thought that the water was still a better shot at health than Jesus. He lost all hope of being healed and when Jesus found him, he did not trust in Him.
In many cases Jesus called upon those he healed to look to Him and trust in Him and His Word – and then he healed them.
In this case Jesus shows us that He may heal those who do not believe as well as those who do. For --
Jesus said to him, “Rise, take up your bed and walk.” 9 And immediately the man was made well, took up his bed, and walked.
When you were a child, did your parents ever answer one of your ‘whys’ with the words: ‘Because I said so?’ Our parents didn’t need our permission or an explanation to demand or expect something of us. Would an explanation really have mattered?
Well Jesus didn’t offer the crippled man a reason he should get up either. He simply said, ‘Rise, take up your bed and walk.’ Do it because I tell you to. While my dad said ‘because I said so’ it didn’t empower me to do what he said.
However, Jesus’ word is bears with it the power to act.
Take up your bed – you won’t need so much anymore.
Walk – you won’t need to be carried again.
Thus, with a few words Jesus healed him. He was enabled to do what he was told by Jesus the healer of the crippled.
What do we learn from this third sign? Jesus is the Son of God, whose word is powerful, can heal the crippled.
If we were skeptics we might ask – then why are we ever sick? Why are some in a wheelchair while others have strength in their limbs to walk? Does Jesus love some more than others? Is it that he has overlooked the needs of some?
Oh, that the answer was a simple one. Why do we grow sick and weak? Why disease and death?
When sin entered this world so did weakness and death. We live in a broken world, in broken and degrading bodies. If it were not for the intervention of the Son of God – we would have nothing but eternal death ahead of us.
Physical weakness and disease are part of this world. Those who trust in Jesus the healer of the crippled know that there will be an end of this disease and weakness. Of this we have the promise of God Himself, who tells us (Philippians 3:20-21):
20 For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, 21 who will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body, according to the working by which He is able even to subdue all things to Himself.
The weakness, pain and imperfection we experience now is temporary. In some cases, it may be a humbling test (Paul – 2 Corinthians 12:7) in others a reminder not to wander from the LORD. We have hope in Christ. When disease or sickness comes to us, we know that God’s purpose for us is never evil (Romans 8:28).
We should not ask -- what have I done to deserve this – because the answer is lots. The wages of sin is eternal death. But God in his mercy laid our punishment and our debt on His son. Jesus paid in full what we owe, and declared – it is finished. God does not punish His own, but may chastise them in love. However, in the case of this crippled man, of whom we have no indication that he believed, the warning of Christ does apply:
Afterward Jesus found him in the temple, and said to him, “See, you have been made well. Sin no more, lest a worse thing come upon you.”
God may choose to punish those who do not believe -- for they have rejected God’s solution (Ezekiel 11:21). The man with the bed wasn’t the only one crippled in Jerusalem that day. Consider the crippled hearts of the Jewish leaders:
The Jews therefore said to him who was cured, “It is the Sabbath; it is not lawful for you to carry your bed.” 11 He answered them, “He who made me well said to me, ‘Take up your bed and walk.’ ” 12 Then they asked him, “Who is the Man who said to you, ‘Take up your bed and walk’?” For this reason the Jews persecuted Jesus, and sought to kill Him, because He had done these things on the Sabbath.
Unbelievable! When the Jewish Leaders saw the man who had been healed walking about – carrying the bed that he had been lying on for 38 years – all they could see was the bed! It seems that all they could say was – “Hey, you can’t do that – it’s the Sabbath!” Don’t you know that the Law of Moses says that you can’t work on the Lord’s Day?
But -- God had only forbidden work on the Sabbath so that it not take away from the Word and Worship of God. God had never said that ‘bed-carrying’ was a sin if done on the Sabbath. This was a human tradition, an addition to God’s Word.
How it happened that he was carrying his bed was not important to them. Jesus said: Get up, take up your bed and walk. The Jews said: Sit down, put that down, stop it.
They didn’t only demand that the former cripple stop – they also demanded that Jesus stop. Hey Jesus, you can’t heal people on the Sabbath – you can’t work on the Lord’s Day – it’s reserved for God’s Word!! This while Jesus, the Son of God wielded the Word of God with power in their midst.
Jesus also wanted to heal their crippled hearts, but they would have nothing to do with Him.
Jesus answered them, “My Father has been working until now, and I have been working.” 18 Therefore the Jews sought all the more to kill Him, because He not only broke the Sabbath, but also said that God was His Father, making Himself equal with God.
They didn’t want life from Him, but they wanted Him dead. This they wanted because He healed on the Sabbath and because He called God His Father, making Himself equal to God. Still today, those who reject Jesus as the Son of God will only react in anger to His Word and the Signs reveled in that Word.
That doesn’t mean that God’s Word won’t be effective. The same Jesus who healed the paralyzed man works through the Word of the Gospel to convince and convert.
So, to that end, may God bless your speaking of the Word of Christ, that others may see the signs, hear and believe. Amen.