Damariscotta Baptist Church
Tuesday, October 23, 2018
Growing personal relationships with God and community

05/05/13 Sermon

 

John 5:1-9a

May the words of my mouth and the meditations of our hearts be acceptable in Thy sight O Lord our Strength and our Redeemer, Amen

 
 

After her husband's checkup, a woman was called into the doctor's office. With deep concern she asked the doctor, “Is my husband going to get well?”

The doctor told her, "Your husband has a serious disease. There are several things you'll have to do for him, or he will not get well. In fact, he will surely die." 
 

"Each morning," the doctor continued, "fix him a healthy breakfast. Be pleasant to him. Make him a nutritious lunch for work, and an especially nice meal for his dinner at night.

Don't give him chores, or that will increase his stress. Don't discuss your problems with him either. Try to relax him in the evenings by giving him backrubs. Let him watch his favorite sports on TV.
 

And most importantly, satisfy his every whim. If you do these things for the next ten months to a year, I think he'll get well again.” 

On the way home, the husband looked over at his wife and asked “What did the doctor say, Am I’m going to get well?” 
 
And his wife, thought about the doctor’s instructions, looked him in the eye, and said, "I’m sorry honey but it was bad news; you're going to die.”

 

Do you want to get well? That was the question that Jesus had for the man in our scripture today.

And it seems like such a no-brainer question. Here we have a man who had been an invalid or disabled for 38 years.
 

Surely a man who had been disabled for that many years would love to be healed.

Jesus’ question almost seems foolish. But his question actually has a point to it.
 
And the point is that not everyone really wants to be healed. For healing, like what the woman was going to have to do for her husband can call us to hard work.
 
I’m sure we’ve all probably known people who really didn’t want to be healed.
 

There are many people who have grown so accustomed to being sick and needy that they really don’t want things to be any different. They actually enjoy the attention that being sick can bring them.

So instead of taking care of themselves they choose to not get well.  
 
And we’ve probably also known others who don’t want to get well in emotional ways. 

Many will choose unhealthy lifestyles whether its addictions or other self-destructive behaviors because they actually fear that by getting well, living in wholeness, that there will be a responsibility or a change that they are afraid to live in to. So they continue to sabotage themselves not wanting to get well.

Some people will avoid promotions at work because of the added responsibility and because they simply prefer to complain about the workload and how they’re mistreated and underpaid.

Marriages are another place where people do not want to get well. Our culture continues to see high divorce rates because one or both spouses choose to not do the necessary sacrificial work of marriage.

On an even larger scale we can see how even a nation of people don’t want to get well. More and more countries are becoming entitlement nations where people are growing more and more dependent on the government to avoid personal responsibility.
 

And we also see how churches choose to not get well as they resist the responsibility of living faithfully into God’s calling.

Year after year, pastor after pastor goes by and people avoid dealing with the sickness within the church because it simply does not want to get well.
 
So Jesus’ question to this man is not a foolish question. Instead it’s a question that goes to a deeper issue.
And that issue is the man’s true “desire”.
 

Did he really desire for things to be changed? Was he ready for the responsibility of truly living as one who is well?

Or had despair and hopelessness and an “invalid life” full of excuses and resentment taken over his identity to the point that he no longer had any aspirations to be made well?
 

Well as we see, this man desires were that he did want to be made well.

In verse 7 we see that he responds to Jesus by saying,
 

“Sir, 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.”

So we do see that this man truly wants to be healed.

He’s tried everything he knew to get down to that healing water which when stirred or troubled up had proven to have healing power.

He wants to walk again; to be whole, to live a life that is full; not only physically but also emotionally and spiritually.
 
And there are many people like this man today; perhaps yourself who truly want to be made whole.

People who long for freedom from something that is keeping them disabled and dysfunctional; whether it’s physical, emotional or spiritual.

Perhaps you’re disabled with an addiction (drugs, alcohol, sexual)---maybe disabled in a bad relationship---- disabled in the stress of your job, disabled in loneliness or grief; disabled in a bad marriage.
 
And no matter how hard you’ve tried to get off your mat to find healing on your own or even asked for help from somebody else, things have gotten worse and you’ve just given up.
 
If that’s you, if you’re right where this man was, desiring wholeness, well this story offers words of hope.
 

And we see it in the words that Jesus speaks to this man.

And they’re more than words that we often give to one another when we see that they’re hopeless and helpless.
 
I mean if it were us we would probably say to the man, "Well, let’s wait until the water is stirring up again and I'll help you get into the pool when it does”. 
 
Or we might say "You know, just keep it up; be persistent and one of these days you'll make it in time”.

Or we might say, "Well let's at least make you comfortable. How about a new mattress to lie on, put a few flowers around you and bring you two meals a day"?

No, Jesus didn’t offer the fix it words that you and I might say.
 
Instead he says 3 specific things that are very significant---First he says: Get Up. Second he says: Pick up your mat. And then third he says: walk.

Now when we look at the first thing Jesus said (To Get Up) it can seem like an odd thing to say to someone who is an invalid. I mean this fellow couldn’t get up. It was impossible.

But if we think about Jesus’ directions to him, what we can see is that Jesus is calling him to take action even in the midst of his skepticism.
 
You know so many times we fail to find wellness in our lives because our skepticism shuts down possibility. We quit just when help is on the way.
 

But when this man took action to trust and believe and have faith even though everything told him the opposite he was in a position to have Jesus make him well.

You and I may find ourselves in a desperate situation that seems hopeless and helpless—and for very good reason!

But as resurrection people, Jesus calls us to always to keep up the faith. Even when it seems impossible, even when all hope seems to be gone, we have to continue to take action.

If you’re in need of a job, make the necessary phone calls and continue to put out the resume’s.
 

If you haven’t found a diagnosis, keep going to the doctor, if you are struggling with addiction keep seeking to get help.

If you’re wallowing in loneliness, keep yourself busy. If you’re marriage is suffering keep seeking guidance.

So often, help is on the way and is readily available.
 

But we have to continue to keep up the hope and take the necessary actions to “get up”………………………….

 

Now the second thing Jesus says to the invalid man of 38 years is that he needs to pick up his mat.

Why did he say that?
 

G. Campbell Morgan makes the point that, "In order to make no provision for a relapse the man needed to not leave his mat behind".

In other words, the man might have said to himself, "I'm healed right now, but I better leave my mat back there just in case I need it tomorrow."
 

So often we fail to be made well because we keep holding on to the things that are keeping us disabled.

But to pick up your mat means we burn our bridges.
 

For the alcoholic or addict you go home and pour out the alcohol or get rid of the drugs.

If you are a part of a group of people that are bad influences we disassociate ourselves with them.
 

If you work for an employer that burdens you and causes you an unbearable amount of stress you find another job.

Or if you’re in an abusive relationship we may need to burn the bridges of that relationship for our own well being.
 

On a corporate level, if you’re a part of a church that keeps going back to ways of division and divisiveness or a lack of commitment you will need to find another church home.

For us to live in the wellness that Jesus offers we have to cut off any possibility of going back.  
We have to let go of old ways that are harmful.
 

So often people are touched by God, delivered from something that is keeping them from experiencing wellness, but they go back to the past leading them right back to where they started.

But Jesus knows that in order for us to experience true wholeness we can’t go back. We must burn our bridges by "picking up our mat” and keep moving forward……………………

Finally the last word Jesus tells the invalid man is that he must walk.

In other words, no one is going to carry you. You must walk on your own.
 
The call to walk is a call to personal responsibility to live in faithfulness and wholeness; to take care of ourselves physically, emotionally and spiritually.
 
So often we are invalids because we want everyone else to do for us what we must do for ourselves.
 
People tell us that we need to go to the doctor or to stop self-destructive behavior or to be accountable or to let go of bitterness or leave an abusive relationship or do the work of marriage but it’s up to us to walk that walk on our own.
 
On a corporate level as a church we have to walk on our own by not expecting everyone else to do the work for us.
 
We can’t be a church that has an identity that looks for others to carry the load.
 
Churches that don’t have that personal responsibility where everyone is walking together, are churches that are sick and disabled.They look for handouts from others and are self centered in their ways.

But Jesus wants us as individuals and as a church to be made well.

And in order for that to happen each one of us must get up, let go of our mats (our old ways and old problems, old addictions) and intentionally walking faithfully following God’s way on our own……………………………….
 

In closing this morning, we’re being asked to reflect on where we need to be made well?  Where have we lost hope? Where do things seem impossible?

And as you ask yourself that question be honest enough to also let Jesus ask you the question that he asked the invalid of 38 years…Do you want to get well?

 
Jesus wants us to experience wholeness; to be free from those things that keep us from experiencing true life.
 
God’s power is still working and moving among us. And today he comes to us and calls us to receive his healing power.

So today let us hear his words to take action---to get up, to pick up our mats and to walk.

 
If we want to get well, Jesus is there to offer us a healing touch. Will we trust in his power to save us and to make us well?
 
 

In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, Amen