- Sermon Notes
From Death to Life
In John chapter 5 we find Jesus in Jerusalem for the Passover feast. While He is there, He comes to Jerusalem where there is a pool called Bethesda, which means “house of mercy.”
There was a certain man there who had been 38 years in his sickness. When Jesus saw him lying there, He said to him, “Do you wish to get well?” In many ways that question becomes the theme of the chapter and in reality, it’s the theme of the whole gospel.
We live in a sin-sick world and the consequences of that are all around us, and God is the One doing something about it. But we have to actually want the life that He’s offering. We have to want to change. You would be surprised how many don’t want to change.
At first, the sick man explained that there was no one to help him. The man was helpless. This is something we can all relate to, we all need help. And when it comes to spiritual sickness, we need help from God. If the soul is sick, we are sick indeed.
Jesus responded, “Arise, take up your pallet and walk.” And immediately the man became well, took up his pallet and began to walk. Why did Jesus tell him to take up his pallet? Why not just leave it there? This became a great lesson for us as well.
Jesus told him to take up his pallet because He didn’t want him coming back to lie down there anymore. There needs to be a breaking free of the past, a letting go of the things we once held onto so we don’t go backwards in our lives. Pick up your pallet and keep walking. In fact, the greatest victory is when we keep walking near to God.
When the Jewish leaders saw the man healed and carrying his pallet, they said to him, “It is the Sabbath, and is not permissible for you to carry your pallet.”
I always find it amazing that instead of giving glory to God for the life and healing this man received, they decide to instead to condemn him for carrying his pallet. They completely missed the heart of God. To me, this is one of the greatest tragedies of the story. If you miss the heart of God, you’re missing out on all the blessings and favor that God gives with His heart.
When the Jewish leaders confronted Jesus over this He responded with words so powerful and provocative that they were seeking all the more to kill Him. Not only was Jesus breaking the Sabbath, but also was calling God His own Father, making Himself equal with God.
Jesus answered by speaking of the relationship of the Father with the Son. When we understand the relationship of God the Father to His Son, Jesus, we also understand the relationship of life that God is offering each one of us.
I. Life Comes from the Son
- In verse 21 Jesus said that the Son is the One who gives life. Unfortunately, many people look for help in all the wrong places.
- There are several scriptures that give us the right perspective.
Psalm 121:1, I will lift up my eyes to the mountains; from where shall my help come? My help comes from the Lord, maker of heaven and earth.
A. Don’t cling to religious things
- Verse 4 is in brackets because it is not found in many early manuscripts. Perhaps it was inserted to explain that this was something people commonly believed at the time.
- Was this just a fable people would cling to in hope of finding healing?
Illus - There are various places around the world people go to believing they can find healing waters. In Guadalupe, Mexico there is a shrine where people say there are healing powers present. There is a village in southern France, a well in Ireland, a spring in Germany, etc.
- There are many things people cling to for hope, even superstitious things, but we should not look to any of them for help. We don't need a rabbit's foot, a lucky number, or lucky charms, even if they are "magically delicious."
- Nor does a child of God need religious things to get God's help. Some people put hope in a crucifix, or an icon, or even a cross they wear, but our help comes because God loves us as our Father.
Illus – When I travel overseas I sometimes where a ring on my right hand with a cross on it. Why? In some cultures, a ring on the left hand means, “divorced and available” but the cross is only a reminder to me of my heart for God, the source of love for my wife.
Illus – King Hezekiah brought a revival to Judah and part of that was to destroy to bronze serpent Moses made when they were in the desert…
2 Kings 18:4-5, Hezekiah broke in pieces the bronze serpent that Moses had made, for until those days the sons of Israel burned incense to it; and he called it Nehushtan. He trusted in the Lord, the God of Israel.
- Later, when Jesus found the man in the temple, He said something very provocative to him. “Behold, you have become well; do not sin anymore, so that nothing worse may befall you.”
- Is it possible that sickness can be connected to sin? First of all, Jesus seems to be saying that that was the case with this man. There is a scripture that says something similar.
Psalm 119:67, Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I keep Your word.
- We also need to understand that we live in a sin-sick world and that all disease and death came from Adam’s sin.
Romans 5:12, Through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned.
- In other words, it’s helpful to understand that God originally created the human body to never wear out, to not become sick or to die.
Illus - The things we suffer in our bodies can all be traced in a general sense to Adam’s sin. That’s the reason our hair is falling out, it’s why we need eyeglasses and Metamucil.
- Can there be a direct connection between the choices people make and the sicknesses they suffer? Sure. An alcoholic that suffers liver disease would be an example. Can sexual sin bring tragic consequences, even sicknesses? Absolutely.
- That being said, this is also where some people make wrongful spiritual conclusions. Just because there can be a connection between sin and sickness, it would be tragically wrong to conclude that all sickness comes from sin.
Illus - Jesus came upon a man blind from birth and the disciples asked, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents that he would be born blind?” Jesus answered, “Neither, but it was so that the works of God might be displayed in him.”
- Sometimes, there are things we learn when we go through sickness or difficulty. Through the “thorn in the flesh” Paul learned that God’s grace was sufficient.
- Sometimes, God is waiting for us to pray to Him for healing. God is most certainly able to heal and this should be our prayer.
- But when we see that all sin, all sickness, and all death comes either from the sin we inherited from Adam or from our own, we realize that our greatest need is the healing that comes from the forgiveness of our sin.
II. Believe and Have Life
- The key verse here is verse 24. Jesus said, “He who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life… He has passed out of death into life.”
- God the Father sent His Son so that we might pass from death into life.
- The Jewish leaders were shocked and offended at the thought that Jesus claimed to be the Son of God, making Himself equal with God.
- Did Jesus ever claim to be equal with God? This is precisely why they sought to kill Him. If this wasn’t so, Jesus could have easily set the record straight.
- But this insight to understand the relationship between Jesus and His Father is the insight we need for our own lives as well.
A. God is working in your behalf
- In verse 17 Jesus said, “My Father is working until now, and I Myself am working.”
- In fact, Jesus said in verse 20, “Greater works than these will He show Him… so that you may marvel.”
- What work is He doing? He’s giving life; He’s drawing us to Himself and transforming our lives.
App - Aren’t you glad God doesn’t take days off? That He’s always working in your behalf?
Psalm 121:4-5, Behold, He who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep. The Lord is your keeper; the Lord is your shade on your right-hand.
Isaiah 40:28-29, 31, Have you not heard? The Everlasting God, the Lord, does not become weary or tired… He gives strength to the weary, and to him who lacks might He increases power… Those who wait for the Lord will gain new strength; they will mount up with wings like eagles, they will run and not get tired, they will walk and not faint.
- In fact, it’s only because of His working in our behalf that our efforts amount to anything.
Psalm 127:1-2, Unless the Lord builds the house, they labor in vain who build it; unless the Lord guards the city, and the watchmen keeps awake in vain. It is vain for you to rise up early, to retire late, to eat the bread of painful labors; for it is He who gives to His beloved even while he sleeps.
B. Rest and find life
- The Jewish leaders were offended that Jesus would heal on the Sabbath and this was one of the reasons they sought to kill Him.
- But God gave the Sabbath to Israel not just as a day to rest from labor, it was a day to be restored and refreshed in relationship to God.
Matthew 11:28-29, “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”
- The very thing God meant for their blessing, they had turned into a burden. And then they became experts at condemning each other for minor infractions. This is no way to live.
- Jesus is showing us here is that God is into giving us life and that life is higher than law.
Illus - When Jordi was pregnant with our third child in about 10 days early, she woke with a terrible pain felt like her pelvic bone had broken… The doctor said this was an emergency; get her to the hospital immediately. But there were oh so many red lights on the way… What to do? The answer; life is higher than law.
Illus - Today in Israel there are Sabbath elevators that stop at every floor because pushing a button would be work. You can’t drive a car; that would be kindling of fire. You cannot spit in the dirt; that would be plowing. In the Talmud there are 24 chapters on ways a person could break the Sabbath.
- To rest in the Lord means to stop striving on your own, to stop carrying your own burdens and find the life that comes from drawing near to God through Jesus Christ.
- Some people come to church is a way to fulfill some kind of religious requirement. No, we should come to receive life, to receive His Living Word and to thank God for His grace and His love.
Ephesians 5:18-20, Be filled with the Spirit… singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord; always giving thanks for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God, even the Father.
John 5:1-24 NASB