This coming Sunday, at Southern Calvert Baptist Church, we are going to study John chapter five. This is the story of the healing of the lame man. Last week, we learned about Jesus, the healer in the Gospel of Mark, chapter five. This week, we are also going to learn more about Jesus the healer. The healing that Jesus offers leads to eternal life. This healing changes us for all of eternity.
As a church, we are walking through the entire Bible, from cover to cover, over a three year period. We are now in year three. It took us three years to walk through the Old Testament. We have been studying the Gospels for about two months now. Each lesson just keeps getting better and better.
One of the many patterns that we have discovered in Jesus’ ministry is that He always made time for the individuals among the crowd. He understood that crowds were made up of individual people. We need to consider this today as we minister to others. We need to be ready to sit down with individual people, listen to their stories, and share the good news of the Word of God with them. It’s always worth it.
I. The Sick Man
As this story unfolds, we discover a few important points about the lame man’s story.
A man was there who had been ill for thirty-eight years. (John 5:5)
This lame man has been ill for 38 years. We can assume that he is 38 years old and has been suffering from this sickness all of his life. Jesus took notice of the man and approached him. Jesus initiated the conversation and asked the man to share his story.
6 When Jesus saw him lying there, and knew that he had already been a long time in that condition, He said to him, “Do you wish to get well?” 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.” (John 5)
The lame man wanted to be healed but, no one paid any attention to him. There was no one to help him. Jesus had already stepped up to help, the man just was yet to realize it.
8 Jesus said to him, “Get up, pick up your pallet and walk.” 9 Immediately the man became well, and picked up his pallet and began to walk. Now it was the Sabbath on that day. (John 5)
Jesus intervened and commanded the man to get up and walk. This man had not walked in 38 years. This man believed the Words of Jesus and stood up. He was healed immediately. He responded immediately. There was no muscle atrophy at all. All of this took place on the Sabbath day.
It seems like all is well. Everyone should celebrate because a lame man has been healed, completely. Is that the case? Let’s take a look at how the Jewish religious leaders respond to the miracle that has just taken place.
II. The Jewish Leaders
As we continue to read chapter five, we discover how the Jewish leaders responded to this bonafide miracle that Jesus performed. Remember, this all took place on the Sabbath day.
10 So the Jews were saying to the man who was cured, “It is the Sabbath, and it is not permissible for you to carry your pallet.” 11 But he answered them, “He who made me well was the one who said to me, ‘Pick up your pallet and walk.'” 12 They asked him, “Who is the man who said to you, ‘Pick up your pallet and walk ‘?” 13 But the man who was healed did not know who it was, for Jesus had slipped away while there was a crowd in that place. (John 5)
Instead of rejoicing over the fact that a man was healed, the Jewish leaders were upset. They did not see the man. Instead, they perceived that Jesus broke the Law by healing on the Sabbath. They also accused the man of breaking the Law on the Sabbath for picking up his pallet and walking. This was probably a man who had never walked in his life. There should have been a genuine celebration because a man’s life was changed forever. All the Jewish leaders wanted to do was question the man and find out who had cured him. They were ready to punish the man and the healer. The Gospel writer Luke gives us some insight into this discussion that Jesus had with the Jewish leaders.
1 It happened that when He went into the house of one of the leaders of the Pharisees on the Sabbath to eat bread, they were watching Him closely. 2 And there in front of Him was a man suffering from dropsy. 3 And Jesus answered and spoke to the lawyers and Pharisees, saying, “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath, or not?” 4 But they kept silent. And He took hold of him and healed him, and sent him away. 5 And He said to them, “Which one of you will have a son or an ox fall into a well, and will not immediately pull him out on a Sabbath day?” 6 And they could make no reply to this. (Luke 14)
Jesus pointed out the Jewish leaders’ hypocrisy. When one of their own animals fell in a well on the Sabbath, they were okay with working to rescue the life of the animal. How much more should they have been okay with Jesus rescuing a man’s life on the Sabbath. The Jewish leaders showed more compassion on an animal than they did on a human being. In a similar situation, the Gospel writer Mark gives us some more details about Jesus’ response to the Jewish leaders.
27 Jesus said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath. (Mark 2:27)
The Sabbath day was created by God to help man, not be used by others to punish mankind. The Jewish leaders were trying to use the Sabbath day against Jesus and against the lame man who had been healed. They had missed the essence of the law of the Sabbath day. In fact, they were trying to use the Sabbath day as a weapon.
Since Jesus pointed out their misunderstanding of the Sabbath day, they hated Him for it.
16 For this reason the Jews were persecuting Jesus, because He was doing these things on the Sabbath. 17 But He answered them, “My Father is working until now, and I Myself am working.” 18 For this reason therefore the Jews were seeking all the more to kill Him, because He not only was breaking the Sabbath, but also was calling God His own Father, making Himself equal with God. (John 5)
The Jewish leaders did not like the fact that Jesus healed the lame man. They did not like the fact that He did it on a Sabbath day. They also did not like the fact that Jesus claimed to be God in the flesh. As a result of all of this, not only did they persecute Him, they also sought to murder Him. They needed salvation and eternal life just like the lame man did. They had the same opportunity that the lame man did, yet, they responded much differently than the lame man responded.
“Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My Word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life. (John 5:24)
The lame man heard the Word of God from Jesus Christ. He believed in Him. As a result, he passed from death to life. He came out from under eternal judgment and experienced eternal life. The Jewish leaders also heard the Word of God from Jesus Christ yet, they chose not to believe. They actually placed themselves in opposition to the Word of God. They remained under the eternal judgment of God.
The Jewish leaders did not care about the future of the lame man who was healed. They just wanted to use him to get to Jesus. On the other hand, Jesus cared about the future of the lame man who had been healed.
Afterward Jesus found him in the temple and said to him, “Behold, you have become well; do not sin anymore, so that nothing worse happens to you.” (John 5:14)
Once the Jewish leaders got what they wanted out of the lame man who had been healed, they left him alone. Jesus searched for the man and found him in the temple. While speaking with the man, Jesus gave him some very important advice. The first thing that Jesus explained to him was the fact that he needed to make sure that he did not fall into habitual sin. If the man were to fall into a pattern of sin, then there would be consequences and he did not want to face those consequences. Jesus does not tell the man that he will never sin again. He tells him not to fall into a pattern of sin. Do not allow habitual sin to take root in your life.
Do you have someone in your life who gives this kind of advice to you? Do you have a spiritual leader who helps you keep from falling into habitual sin? How do you respond to the Word of God? Do you respond in obedience the way that the lame man responded, or, do you respond like the Jewish leaders? Did you notice that belief in Christ leads to obedience? Lack of faith in Jesus leads us to oppose God’s Word and the people around us.
May the Lord help us hear and respond positively to His Holy Word so that we can come out of darkness and into the light, from under eternal judgment and into eternal life!