Signs & Wonders (John 5)

MOTIVATE

Everyone loves a good story. It’s one of the reasons why a previous generation would gather around a radio to listen to broadcast storytelling, and today’s generation watches television shows and movies, is to be engaged with story.

–        Me growing up with my family watching tv

–        My children don’t watch too much tv but love movies… besides princess stories they started Star Wars

–        Talking with Kera this week and she had jury duty and she seemed bummed. Brightside: story to share!

Some of the most successful stories have been crime dramas.[1] The better crime stories are not relegated to solely police drama or lawyer dialogue but instead carefully cover the entire conflict of a person’s story from beginning to end. A good crime drama starts with a crime and moves through an investigation, revealing what led the person to commit the crime and how it was done, to identify suspects and the arrest of a criminal. Then the story concludes with the legal process of testimony and trial with verdict. However, many good crime dramas also include the unexpected plot twist at the end.

John’s Gospel account of this fourth sign, healing a disabled man, is structured much like a good crime drama. It tells about an alleged crime with an ensuing investigation and trial, and ends with a surprising plot twist. So, let’s put on our CSI hats and open to John 5.

logo-signs-and-wonders-john

EXAMINE       John 5:1-19             Healing Disability

4 evidences of Jesus’ identity

Jesus could be convicted of seeing people (John 5:1-7).

John opens this account marking a Jewish feast in Jerusalem. We don’t specifically know which one, some scholars propose The Passover, while others suggest Feast of Tabernacles or Trumpets. It doesn’t matter the feast, the point is to indicate the high expectations of the Jewish religious culture with Jesus in Jerusalem the capital city.[2]

The reason Jesus is in Jerusalem is the same reason He went to Samaria. Jesus didn’t stumble upon or become surprised at this divine encounter. Jesus seeks personal and profound encounters with people. Even more, Jesus has a habit of being with people who are desperate, or diseased, or disabled.

è Think about the people Jesus spends majority of His time; people who are different than Him not those who agree with His views and values. Why do we live the opposite? Challenge you to break bread with someone of a different generation or race or religion.

Jesus enters Jerusalem by the Sheep Gate – the place where sacrifices enter. How profound of John to note this! There was a pool of water which would likely be used for general or ritual washings. Lying around the pool was a multitude [πλῆθος/plethos – plethora or large crowd] of invalids: blind, lame, and paralyzed. Visualize this awkward crowd of whom many would be uncomfortable. Yet, Jesus seems to march straight to this group because He saw one man who had been an invalid for 38 years, and he has no one to help him and very little hope in life.

è Jesus sees you. Isn’t that what we all want, for God to see us? We think God is blind to our circumstances because we feel out of control. Yet, in human terms, that is precisely the moment when God is most in control. God’s sovereignty watches over all our life’s settings and statuses and is not surprised by any of it. The Psalms resonate with this feeling of requesting God to see us while also realizing God already sees and it is us who needs to see God.

o   Psalm 9:13 “Be gracious to me, O Lord! See my affliction”

o   Psalm 80:14 “Turn again, O God of hosts! Look down from heaven and see”

o   Psalm 94:9 “He who planted the ear, does he not hear? He who formed the eye, does he not see?”

BUT…

o   Psalm 11:4 “The Lord is in his holy temple; the Lord’s throne is in heaven; his eyes see, his eyelids test the children of man.”

o   Psalm 34:1 “Taste and see that the Lord is good.”

o   Psalm 36:9 “For with you [God] is the fountain of life; in your light do we see light.”

o   Psalm 40:1-3 “I waited patiently for the Lord; he inclined to me and heard my cry. He drew me up from the pit of destruction, out of the miry bog, and set my feet upon a rock, making my steps secure. He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God. Many will see and fear, and put their trust in the Lord.”

o   Psalm 139 God is intimately aware and active in our being from birth to life’s burdens and blessings.

o   Job 42:1-6 “… but now my eye sees you; therefore I despise myself and repent in dust and ashes.”

Before we can continue to look at more evidence, some of you have likely observed the obvious that verse 4 is missing! Why is it missing? The simplest answer is that sentence is not in the oldest and best manuscripts. The more complex answer is that it is likely a copyist saw another copyists comments on verse 7 and inserted it into the text, or perhaps was simply trying to make notation or explanation of this account.

–        For the Bible, we have thousands of Hebrew and Greek manuscripts and fragments of scrolls. There is no other historic document that has this amount of copyist evidence to provide us with confidence in the reliability of the Scripture that we have the text complete and correct. There are textual critics that take painstaking amounts of time to compare and contrast all these manuscripts and fragments, so that we can know with extremely precise accuracy which sentences and words are original. And in the few places textual critics cannot, there is no significant historical or doctrinal issue at stake.

–        FYI: KJV includes verse 4 while others make it a footnote because KJV translation did not have availability of many new discoveries of manuscripts, specifically the Dead Sea Scrolls – of which we are still finding more![3] New discoveries is one of the reasons for newer translations – NKJV and others – because of availability and access to the earliest textual evidence to the original manuscripts.

 

Jesus could be convicted of supernatural healing (John 5:7-9).

Jesus’ awareness of this disabled man led to action; mental knowledge should result in heart response. For Jesus, the response resulted in two actions:

First, Jesus evaluated the man’s desires. Jesus asked, “Do you want to be healed?” Isn’t that an odd question since the man had been an invalid for 38 years and had been coming to this pool for some long time. Yet, it’s a legitimate question to evaluate the man’s source of hope.

Sometimes there is a payoff for wallowing in our weakness. Too often we value being victims rather than victors. A person doesn’t ask for aid or assistance because they are pridefully independent or because they selfishly enjoy the attention they receive due to their weakness. Some cherish and coddle their weakness so much that it becomes part of their identity and they never even try to change or get better. Even more sad are those who frequently vocalize complaints and vent, but the offer of help is always refused.

Jesus evaluates the man’s source of hope, of which is a superstitious ritual. The belief was that at certain times an angel of God descends into the water to stir up waves and the first one to enter gets help and healing. So, the scene is of a multitude of invalids fighting each other to enter into a pool. Their hope is in a false superstition instead of supernatural healing. And apparently, some have been healed in this superstition. You know, it is possible to have the wrong answers and still get the right results… don’t be fooled.

è Where is your hope? You may be dealing with some problems or pains in life and you are

o   relying on bad sources of hope: venting resulting in bitterness, unwise choices resulting in even more problems, or worse substance abuse to fantasize escape. My friend, it’s time to pause and pray. It’s time to reverse course and repent of these cheap substitutes and false idols. Only God give comfort and cure for life’s problems and pains.

o   relying on good sources of hope: medicine, counseling, help of friends, and even prayer to God. This text is a good reminder that Jesus sees you and has compassion for you. God may have plans to fully heal you in a process or promptly in an instant. Or, in God’s sovereignty your healing may not come until you enter His presence when faith becomes sight in His eternal kingdom (Rev 21). Regardless, this text is a good reminder that your hope is in a good and wise God who knows exactly what you need and is providing for you.

Secondly, Jesus responds to this man’s helplessness and hopelessness by offering generous compassion. Jesus did not say to the man, “I hope things get better for you” or “I’ll pray for you” or “I’ll get a new bed mattress for you to at least be a little more comfortable” or “I’ll help you get into the pool.” Jesus didn’t even say “I’ll carry you.” Instead, Jesus supernaturally heals this disabled man to walk anew. “Get up, take up your bed, and walk.”

Jesus’ words of supernatural healing provide us a means of hope. When we trust in His word there is comfort and cure for all our issues. We may find direct healing or we may find help and strength in the journey to persevere day by day. One item to note, Jesus commanded the man to take up his bed and walk forward. We must learn to not rely on worldly comforts in our problems and pain, but must walk forward in the Lord’s promises. And God’s method of carrying us is enabling us to walk by faith in Him.

è Our greatest access to hope is spending time in the Word of God. “God said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’”

 

Jesus could be convicted of Sabbath work (John 5:9-18).
John wants us to see that the sign-miracle isn’t just about what Jesus did but when He did it. While Jesus healed this man, the Jews were more concerned about the fact that the healing and the man walking was being done on the Sabbath. The Jews had created 39 Sabbath laws so they could follow God’s command to honor the Sabbath with rest and not work. Their made up rules become more as burdens and hindrances to people in honoring God than enabling them to love and rest in God’s character (cf. Matt 23).

Noted, Jesus had not violated any command of God but only the rules of man. Jesus’ response was that He was doing the work of His Father (John 5:17). God does not take days off. He is constantly at work because He is Lord of the Sabbath. Our rest is in who He is and what He has done. We miss the Person of rest when our focus is on the religious practices.

è There is a danger of trusting in traditions and missing the work of God. What traditions or personal preferences are you proposing that hinder you from seeing the supernatural work of God?

Jesus had escaped the crowd and the Jewish leaders conflict of Sabbath laws. Later, Jesus finds the man in the temple and commands him “See you are well! Sin no more, that nothing worse may happen to you.” Jesus identifies the man’s healing was by grace – “see you are well.” In other words, “The man did not get healed because he got up (religion), but got up because he was healed (grace).”[4] Next, Jesus tells the man to “Sin no more.” Note that Jesus saves then tells the man to walk in sanctification. Our process of “sinning no more” is only the result of the supernatural grace and salvation of God. Yet, Jesus says there is something worse than 38 years of suffering disability, that of dishonoring God’s grace without genuine gratitude reflected in holy living. We are healed for holiness.

è Christians are not sinless, but they should sin less. A key evidence of sanctification and sinning less in the hatred of sin and habit of righteousness, along with the habit of spiritual community – “loving brothers & sisters.”

o   1John 3:8 “Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil… No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God’s seed abides in him and he cannot keep on sinning because he has been born of God. By this it is evident who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil: whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is the one who does not love his brother.”

o   Participation in circles and not just rows is an indicator of spiritual vitality.

 

APPLY/THINK

Jesus is the Son of God who does signs & wonders.
John’s entire purpose for showing us these signs and wonders is to reveal the identity of Jesus and that we might believe in Him. The Jews accuse Jesus of breaking the Sabbath and being a blasphemer, claiming to be equal with God (John 5:18). They missed the fact that was God and all the evidence was plain to see.

è We can look without seeing. The god of this age blinds your heart and mind from seeing the glories of Christ (2Cor 4:4). Ask God to give you eyes to see His signs and wonders.

o   The greatest sign and wonder is the cross and resurrection.

o   Sometimes a sign and wonder may be simply the smile or sharing of a friend… what is God giving you to help you take steps of faith?

è Healing is coming. I want to encourage many of you to pray for healing of your problems and pains. We have a God who hears and cares about everything in our life. He sees you. And many times it takes a prayer of faith to awaken healing (James 5).

o   And yet, we also know that not all will be healed because it is often the case that God is using the weak – and disabled – of this world to shame the wise of this world, that our hope is not in humanity but in God who raises the dead in eternity (1Cor 1:27-29).

——————

[1] Paragraph from Anthony Selvaggio, The Seven Signs: Seeing The Glory of Christ in The Gospel of John – kindle location 642 of 1432.

[2] See discussion from D.A. Carson, The Pillar Commentary, John 5:1.

[3] http://www.biblicalarchaeology.org/daily/biblical-artifacts/dead-sea-scrolls/new-dead-sea-scroll-cave/

[4] Quote from Steven Furtick sermon on passage.

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