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5-26-19 Sermon

Easter 6  John 5:1-9

One day a cowboy came upon a Native American lying down in the middle of the trail with his ear pressed close to the ground. As the cowboy got closer the native said, "Wagon pulled by two horses one gray and one black. Two passengers one man, one woman in the wagon."

The cowboy was amazed. "That's incredible! You can tell all of that just by keeping your ear to the ground?"

"No,” the native replied, “they ran over me half an hour ago!"

 

There are times in life when we feel like we’ve been run over; life is at an impasse… decisions need to be made, but for some reason you’re paralyzed, unable to decide.

 

Often at this point we start with the “if onlys.” If only I had enough money for a bigger house…If only I had an education. If only I could get a better job. If only there was a miracle cure for my health condition.

 

The man in our Gospel today was playing the “if only” game. If only he could get to the pool of healing water, if only someone would just take him there, he’d be healed of his paralysis. Hope for this man was in the superstition that the waters in the pool would heal him. We’re no different. We put our hope in pills, quick fixes, or lottery winnings, the government; we readily listen to someone else, even superstitious nonsense, but refuse to listen to the One who can save us.

 

According to John’s Gospel, Jesus met a man who had been coming to the pool of Bethesda every day for 38 years in hopes of being healed, but because he was paralyzed, he had no means of getting into the water on his own, much less getting there first. When Jesus saw him he realized the man was helpless. But, instead of carrying him to the pool he said to him, “Do you want to be made well?” The man answered that he had no one to carry him. Jesus, then said, “Stand up, take your mat and walk.” Jesus didn’t carry him to the pool; instead, He challenged him to walk away from it. If the man wanted to be healed he had to move in a different direction.

 

One-way to get unstuck is to turn away from those things in life that are easy fixes. Our economy thrives on the idea there’s a quick fix for everything.

Jesus is saying we need to quit focusing on the things in life that give us false hope and focus on him.

“Stand up,” told the man. How could the man possibly know he couldn’t walk away unless he really tried? The man had become a victim, waiting for someone else to rescue him. Jesus wanted him to see himself as a whole person rather than a victim paralyzed by fear.

When Jesus healed a blind man, John reminds us that no one is as blind as the person who fails to see the saving grace of God in Jesus. The Bible makes it clear that spiritual paralysis allows us to see the will of God, but not do it. A withered spirit is worse than a withered arm.

God doesn’t see us as deficient people. God doesn’t want us to put our hope in things that give us a false sense of security. Jesus encountered the man he said, “Do you want to be healed?” Notice the man didn’t answer Jesus’ question. He said there was no one to help him. He had given up and resigned himself to a state of hopelessness.

So Jesus told the man to “Stand up.” Quit feeling sorry for yourself. Jesus looked beyond the handicap, illness, or psychological disorder. Jesus saw potential in this man, just as he did when he called the disciples. Jesus saw this man as a whole human being. But Jesus even goes one step further, he tells him to take his mat with him. In other words, Jesus didn’t want him to return to a state of helplessness. As long as that mat remained near the pool, the man could have gone back.

It’s also interesting to note that Jesus did nothing to cure this man. He didn’t touch him, he didn’t say, “believe, and you will be made well.” What he did do was redirect the man’s focus away from the pool and toward God.

Only by focusing on God will we experience newness of life; which means we must walk away from those things in life that are nothing more than a “Band-Aid” approach that make us temporarily feel better.

When Jesus told the man to “walk” it didn’t make any sense. But it was exactly what he needed to do to refocus. My focus, your focus, the focus of this congregation all need to be on what God wants. Praying, reading God’s word, studying God’s word will reveal what God wants us to be about.

LORD, I ask you to make Your word come alive to me so that I can deal with life issues from Your perspective.