When the Pastor Search Committee and I began to talk more seriously, they sent me a pictorial directory. I browsed through the directory trying to get several names and faces together. However, when I actually saw you face to face man of you changed greatly. Old pictures tell a story.
When we look at the gospel stories we're privileged to form mental pictures of Christ. Certainly any portrait our mind might paint would not tell the whole story of Christ. Not even a thousand portraits would tell the story. But, some mental pictures will help us more fully understand the attributes of out Lord. In the text we see at least the following portraits.
1. A Compassionate Christ
2. A Commanding Christ
3. A Conquering Christ
4. A Counseling Christ
Please follow as these portraits are verbally painted.
For reference notice Matthew 9:36; 14:14, 14:32, and 20:34
First, Christ shows compassion as He deals with mankind's false theories. This man believed the theory that an angel came from heaven and stirred the waters. The words of the last part of verse 3 and all of verse 4 are not in the earliest manuscripts. Most commentators today agree that the words of these verses were added as an explanation. They most likely are not part of the original text.
Do you have a newer translation of scripture? (Remember, all of us have a translation. However, translations either eliminate these words or place them in brackets. We are to learn this was a false theory to cure the man. That shows more compassion than debating false theory. His compassion is shown by the way he sidesteps this mistaken belief. We should do the same.
Secondly, Jesus' compassion shows itself as He deals with the man's sin problem. Notice verse 6 and then verse 14. The man's sin caused him to have a disease for 38 years. He was lying here at the pool of Bethesda. (It is interesting to note Bethseda means house of mercy or grace.) It is a pitiful sight and Jesus is moved by His compassion to heal the man.
Jesus asked,"...do you wish to get well? That's an interesting question, isn't it? You would think it had an obvious answer. Some people prefer to stay in their sin. Christ's compassion is such that He will allow a person to remain in their disease if they choose to do so. Love lets a person have freedom. That is one of the highest expressions of true compassion and love.
Thirdly, the Lord shows compassion concerning this man's false hope. Verse 7 indicates this person's hope centered in man and the phenomena of nature. That's the wrong place for your
hope. Our Lord Jesus did not allow this to thwart His expression of compassion. The man is called to transfer his hope to Jesus.
Fourth, the compassion of Jesus is shown in the healing of this man. We must address a question. Was this the only sick and diseased man present? Probably not! There may have been 25, 50 or 100 others waiting for the waters to be stirred. Why didn't the Lord heal them? Is Christ really compassionate if He heals only one person. This is a valid question.
I believe the answer is found in the fact that this man was the most diseased person. The Lord healed the worst case. All others could come to Him or be brought be others. On many occasions in scripture it is recorded that many sick and diseased were coming to Him. The controversy stirred by healing one man caused great difficulty. What would have happened if the Lord healed 25, 50 or 100? In verse 13 we are told, "Jesus slipped away..." This word translated 'slipped' has the idea of caution or deliberate action to escape a mob If the Lord had to slip out after healing one man, what would have happened if He healed Many?
Another point must be made. The Lord heals as He wills and not necessarily as we desire. He is Lord and is al knowing. What kind of a God heals one out of many? A God who knows more than you or I. A Lord who wants our faith in Him during disease or good health. One who might further be honored in our sickness. (Notice John 9:3 or 11:4) The question can also be asked, "What kind of a Christian are you if you only serve in good times?
Just this past week one of our church members remarked about Ray Slaughter. Most of you know Ray has cancer and just took medical retirement. Many of us have prayed for Ray. He has not received a miracle. It is still possible but, Ray's example during these days has been excellent. He is not moaning or complaining. He is quietly trusting the Lord. He is a witness to all of us in the face of a dreadful disease.
Back t the original thought. Jesus shows compassion in healing. He sought this man out of the crowd. The text says in verse 6, "...when Jesus saw him..." Action proceeded from the Lord, not from the man.
When Jesus was hanging on the cross. Two criminals also died. The Bible tells us they both spoke rebuke to the Lord at first. Then on thief repented of his sin and asked for the Lord's favor. The repentant thief received forgiveness and a promise to be in Paradise. Could both thieves receive the same blessing? Yes, the difference was in their response to the compassion of Christ.
What is your response to a compassionate Christ? Do you wish to get well? There are similarities to this man's healing and a need for spiritual healing or salvation. The Lord can change you because He is a compassionate Christ. Again, Christ asked, do you wish to get well?
Now look with me at a second portrait.
Secondly, note verse 14. The Lord commands"... do not sin any more..." Of course, this means do not have a sinful lifestyle. It is not referring to the total absence of sin where a perfect life is lived. Sin caused the man's disease. His previous sin occurred without the knowledge of Jesus' power. Now his sin will be against the power of God.
Notice in verse 14 the man is in the temple. I believe he was thanking God for his healing and making a sin offering.
King Saul was told to conquer a city and take no spoils. He disobeyed and lied in saying,"...the people took some of the spoil,... to sacrifice to the Lord..." Samuel responded, "... to obey is better than sacrifice,..." (I Samuel 15:21-22).
The healed man received a command. Go your way and as you go do not
keep on sinning. All who name Jesus as Lord should have a desire for clean
hands and a pure heart. Is it so with each of us? Please follow the development
of a third portrait.
Secondly, Jesus conquers mankind's incorrect theology. Verse 10 reports theology of the day concerning the Sabbath. The bible does not condemn carrying a burden on this day. The added rules of the Pharisees condemned this man for carrying his pallet. The emphasis was on rules, not rejoicing over the man's healing. Theology that emphasized the letter of the Law rather than the grace of God is incorrect. Jesus conquers that kind of theology.
Christ conquers the day of rest if we yield to His Lordship. On one occasion I visited a man in the hospital for whom many of our people were praying. I ask this man to come to church he said I have to work on Sunday's. I then asked will you be working this Sunday, and he said well no I'll be here in the hospital. I told him of all the men in our church who believed God should be honored on His day, and encouraged him to worship on the first Lord's day he could.
Today, we are not guilty of adding to this law about the day of rest.
We are guilty of taking away from it. It is not God's day today, but ours.
Too many think they can entertain, visit, shop or recreate t the exclusion
of the purpose of this day. This is incorrect theology we should seek to
have conquered by Christ. Would you also not a forth portrait?
Secondly, Jesus counsels abut sin. In verse 14 He says, "...do not sin anymore..." This indicates the cause of the man's illness. Again, the Lord confronts him with His counsel. The man is healed; now he is told to have a different lifestyle. There is a parallel; when we are saved, we are healed and empowered to have a different lifestyle. the Lord says, "...that nothing worse may befall you." There is something worse than a disease for 38 years. It is a Christian living in a non-Christian manner.
Thirdly, Jesus counsels them about the day of rest and His oneness with the Father. Our Lord never sidestepped an issue. He hit it head on with the truth.
Let me make a spiritual application from the life of this powerless man to all of mankind. One, he was helpless; he could not heal himself, and no other man could heal him. We cannot save ourselves from sin, neither can another human. Secondly, Jesus asks, "Do you want to get well?" We are asked that spiritually. Do you want salivation? We must respond. Thirdly, Jesus commands, "Arise, take up your pallet and walk." He commands us to come believe, receive, repent. DO YOU WISH TO GET WELL? Then pray this suggested prayer.
Dear Heavenly Father,
I know I am a sinner who cannot cleanse My own sin by works I
do. I believe Jesus' death
On the cross is the only way my sin debt can be Paid. I confess Jesus as Lord of my life and commit
Myself to Him. I repent of my sin and desire to live a Christian life through the power You give. Right
Now I invite Jesus into my life. I yield completely To Him believing
He will do what His word says He
Will do and that is to give me salvation. Thank you For your free gift.
I pray in Jesus' name. Amen