Do You Want To Be Well?
John 5:1-9

Dr. William S. Epps, Senior Pastor

Sunday, May 22, 2022
1After this there was a feast of the Jews, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. 2Now there is in Jerusalem by the Sheep Gate a pool, in Aramaic called Bethesda, which has five roofed colonnades. 3In these lay a multitude of invalids—(4)blind, lame, and paralyzed. 5One man was there who had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. 6When 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?” 7The 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.” 8Jesus said to him, “Get up, take up your bed, and walk.” 9And at once the man was healed, and he took up his bed and walked. Now that day was the Sabbath. John 5:1–9 (ESV)
The healing miracles of Jesus speak to the healing of which we all stand in need. There is something in each one of them that pictures us in some way, shape form or fashion. 1- There were those who were brought by someone to Jesus
(Mark 2 the four unnamed friends). 2- There were those whom Jesus was asked to go and see (Mark 5:22 Jairus). 3- There were those who came to Jesus (Matthew 8, great crowds followed him and a leper came and knelt down before him saying, Lord, if you choose you can make me clean). 4- There were those who intercepted Jesus as He was going from place to place (Mark 5:25, the woman with the issue of blood). 5- There were those who simply ask Jesus to speak a healing word for a loved one at home (Mark 5:24, the Syrophoenician woman). 6- There were those whom Jesus chose as He saw them in their situations (John 5).  
Consider what it means that the healing miracles of Jesus
speak to the healing we all stand in need.  
Monday, May 23, 2022
Bruce Larson wrote a book entitled, "What God Wants To Know." He suggests in this book that we can find our answers to our questions to God in our responses to the questions God asks us. Imagine, if you answer the questions God asks you, you will find in the response, answers to your questions of God. Bruce Larson cites an author by the name of Paul Tournier, a Swiss physician and author who had acquired a worldwide audience for his work in pastoral counseling. His ideas had a significant impact on the spiritual and psychosocial aspects of routine patient care. He had been called the twentieth century's most famous Christian physician. His father was a Presbyterian minister who died when Paul was two years old; his mother died shortly thereafter. Paul was raised by an uncle who was killed some years later in a car driven by Paul. In spite of, or perhaps because of, these multiple tragedies, Paul became a devout Christian. He believed in God and read his bible regularly and went to church. Paul kept regular quiet time each morning with his wife Nellie. They would wake early, go to separate rooms, read their Bibles and talk with God. One day Tournier heard an inner voice say to him, "Paul why is it you are always asking me questions?  Why don't you start listening to me and begin to let me ask you some questions?" Tournier was stunned. But he understood that the message was from God; from that moment he began to listen. He kept a journal in which he recorded the questions that God seemed to be asking him. The questions were varied. This practice of personal dialogue marked a turning point for Paul. 
Isn't it incredible that God yearns to be heard by us as much as we yearn and ache to be heard by God
Some of the questions God asks in the Old Testament are, Where Are You? (Genesis 3:9): Where Is Your Brother? (Genesis 4:9); What Is That In Your Hand? (Exodus 4:2): Who Will Go For Us? (Isaiah 6:8).
Some of the questions Jesus asks in the New Testament are, Do You Want To Be Well? (John 5:6); What Do You Want Me To Do For You? (Mark 10:51);
Why Are Your Afraid? (Mark 4:40); Friend, What Are Doing With Them?
(Matthew 26:50). 
Consider what it means to find you answers to your questions of
God in your responses to the questions God asks you.  
Tuesday, May 24, 2022
The pericope in the 5th chapter of John has a few unique features you don't particularly find in the others. John shares a story about unsolicited grace. Jesus is visiting Jerusalem as it was required that Jews living in a 20-mile radius of Jerusalem were to present themselves before the Lord in Jerusalem three times in a year for their special festivals: Passover, Pentecost and Tabernacles. Jesus was there for one of these festivals  And there was a pool…filled with water… located just outside of Jerusalem near an eastern gate called the “Sheep’s Gate”. It was called the pool of Bethesda which means the House of Mercy. This Bethesda was a place of sickness and misery with people who were invalids, blind, lame and paralyzed.
It was near the sheep’s gate so that sheep coming to be sacrificed in the temple could be washed in this pool. There were five porticoes or porches called colonnades to shelter the sick.
It had been noised abroad that at certain times an angel troubled the waters and the first one to get in the water after this troubling would be healed. Do you get the picture? The waters are troubled and the jostling, pushing, striving to be the first one in the pool begins. It is like a stampede of sick persons climbing over each other for a chance to get well. Imagine an angel encouraging competition to see who is the fastest and strongest. Looks like a picture of the survival of the fittest and not the picture of help and hope for those who need healing. What kind of angel was this anyway? Was there really healing power in the pool when the angel troubled the waters? Who had seen or knew of one who was healed? Was it just a rumor circulating around? The scripture does not say. But what the scripture does say is enough for us to get the implications of this miracle for our lives. 
Look at the setting. There were five porches. Five kinds of animals were sacrificed under the Old Covenant Law of sacrifice: goats, sheep, cattle, pigeons and doves [Genesis 15:9; Exodus 29:38; Leviticus 1:1-17; 3:1; 4:3, 14, 23, 28; 5:6-7]. It should also be noted that five is the number for power and divine grace. 
There are always places to which we go to get help to live with life’s limitations. I guess we can list the places we go to get help to cope. It would be presumptuous on my part to do so.  You speculate about where you go when the world is too much with you. The poet reminds us that “the world is too much with us late and soon, getting and spending we lay waste our powers.” (William Wadsworth). We all have our places where we go when we realize the world is too much with us. 
The principle of grace is as fundamental to the Christian Faith as that of justice is to Law, or love is to relationships. The Christian Faith cannot be understood apart from grace. Grace distinguishes the Christian faith from every other faith. Grace is what makes a difference in our lives. 
This paralyzed man was an invalid for 38 years. He is spending his life on a bed paralyzed. What a plight. The significance of the number 38 speaks of 3, the number of God (divine perfection) and 8 the number of a new beginnings. Unsolicited grace is God's power and grace providing a new beginning.  
Grace is God’s unmerited favor. Another way to describe grace is to say that grace is the outpouring of God's underserved goodness. God’s grace provides a new beginning.
Consider what it means that unsolicited grace is God’s power
and grace providing a new beginning.  
Wednesday, May 25, 2022
How do you answer the question, Do you want to be made well?
Firstly, you have to want to be made whole (well).   
Do you want to be made whole? Notice the response of the person. He did not give a yes or no answer. In fact, he did not answer the question at all. Listen to the response. “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.
He began to explain that his condition was not his faultHis friends and family have failed him. His answer had nothing to do with the question he was asked.  
He implied that he was unloved and uncared for. Jesus is still asking. do you want to be made whole? Maybe that sound ludicrous. Would someone who is sick physically, morally, spiritually, mentally or relationally want to be well? We have choices as Moses gave the people he led for forty years this challenge. “This day I call on heaven and earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life. Now choose life that you and your children may live and that you may love the Lord your God, listen to His voice and hold fast to him. For the Lord is your life”…..(Deuteronomy 30:19. 
Like those gathered at the sheep gate we find ourselves identifying with their conditions. The invalids, the blind, the lame and the paralyzed were all there. The symbolism of those descriptions is interesting to say the least. Who has not been made an invalid / incapable / powerless / incompetent /by some incidents or individuals? (Look at us as a nation, incapable to be able to bridge the gaps that polarize us). Who has not been blinded / unable to see / beyond the bewilderment which robs you of your sight? (We cannot see beyond our selfish desire to have our way to find common ground to benefit everyone). Who has not been lame / crippled / disabled due to some limitation/s? (We are limited by our inability to get beyond our differences).  Who has not been paralyzed / loss of function /by some predicament? (The politicization of health and safety measures, books and reading material for schools create a paralysis of analysis moving forward). We have the resources to do what we can but seemingly lack the will to do what we should
The lack of any request to Jesus for healing, or any hint of faith on the part of the sick person prior to the cure, emerges as the most prominent feature of this incident. Particularly when the story is compared with the preceding one, about the healing of the son of the official who begs Jesus for help and demonstrates profound faith (4:46-54). The healing by the pool is a demonstration of unsolicited grace. Jesus chose him. We see in Jesus the expression of God’s grace toward us. 
Nothing in the man's conduct or disposition accounts for the cure that brought an end to nearly four decades of affliction. He becomes a passive recipient of a remarkable gift. But the incident raises all sorts of questions about the indiscriminate character of Gods' graciousness, a fact that God (at least on this occasion) helps those who do not even ask for help, challenges the notion that you can control God's activities by faith or the lack thereof. God works to help and that even before faith is professed. God is who God is whether you have faith or not. God makes available what you need even before you ask. 
Consider what it means that the Lord sees and selects randomly
to bestow God’s graciousness without even being asked.  
Thursday, May 26, 2022
Secondly, Jesus tells the person what he must do, “rise take up you bed and walk”
Jesus singling out this person suggests that the Lord wants people to be well and whole. Of all the people there, Jesus singled him out. Even though he did not recognize Jesus, he was the subject of God’s sovereign choice and gift. Jesus picked him out. The man did not answer the question. He rather explained why he has been where he was for 38 years. It was as though he was asking Jesus to wait with him until the waters are troubled and then assist him to get there so that he may be healed. Jesus' response to that subtle suggestion is simply, rise take up your bed and walk. At once the man was healed and took up his bed and walked. 
He came with his back on his bed, he leaves with his bed on his back. A word from the Lord initiated the healing as the person followed the directive of the Lord. 
Dr. Martin Seligman, author of a book entitled “Learned Optimism” says that we all have in our hearts a yes or no. We respond to life either negatively or positively. He suggests that we can learn to put the yes in our hearts and doing so can change the course of our lives. Remember the campaign slogan of Barack Obama, Yes we Can. We make work what we want to work and we destroy what we want to destroy. It’s a matter of what we say yes to and what we say no to.
Do you say yes to the healing power that says that you can take up that on which you laid and carry it as you regain your ability, capacity and potential to make of your life something more than what it has been, a new beginning due to the grace of God? 
Consider what it means to symbolically take up your bed and walk; to let Jesus make the change in your life to be functional and not dysfunctional.  
Friday, May 27, 2022
Thirdly, Jesus cautions the person about his choices  
Following the healing of this person, Jesus extends His mercy by meeting this man a second time. Perhaps this was because the man was at the right place after being healed. He was in the temple. He met Jesus with his back on a bed, and leaves with the bed on his back!  Jesus singles him out again and gives him a word of admonition. See, you have been made well! Do not do what you did before to be in the situation you were, for if you do, something worse will happen to you.  
The section that follows the miracle (5:9b-18) indicates another feature about the incident. The healed person apparently exhibits no gratitude to Jesus for his healing. (The statement in 5:9 that "he took up his mat and began to walk" indicates not so much the man's obedience as a confirmation that the healing had really occurred). When queried by the authorities about why he carries his pallet on the Sabbath, he swiftly passes the buck to Jesus, whom the text tells us he does not know (5:13). Then when Jesus meets him later in the Temple, he goes back to the authorities, not skipping and jumping with delight because he has been made whole, but clearly to report on Jesus. Miracles can be performed independently of faith and miracles do not always produce faith or gratitude
Consider what it means that Jesus cautions us about the choices we make and the possibility of their effects on the healing the Lord provides.  
Saturday, May 28, 2022
We all have experienced the unsolicited grace, mercy and love of the Lord in Christ. We gather as a congregation of believers in Christ to praise the Lord from whom all blessings flow and thank God for his grace and mercy toward us. 
Grace of God, sweet grace of God. / If it wasn't for the grace of God, yeah
I would be eternally lost / If it wasn't for the grace of God, yeah
I would suffer at my own cross / If it wasn't for His grace,
I would not from sin be free / Wondrous grace that God gave me

Grace of God, Sweet, wonderful grace of God
You know it brought me
Thank God it taught me / Grace of God, yes
Sweet wonderful grace of God
You know it brought me / Thank God it taught me
Grace of God, yes
Sweet wonderful grace of God / You know it brought me
Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah / Grace of God.
Consider what it means to recognize the unsolicited
grace of the Lord in your life. 

The Grace of God
~Rev. James Cleveland
and The Gospel Music
Workshop of America~
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Los Angeles, CA 90011 
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