Daily Bible Studies & Sermon Notes

Pastor Steve Schell
John 5:1-20
You and I have been invited into a relationship with the One who created heaven and earth (Ps 8), with the One who formed us in our mother’s womb and knows our thoughts before there is a word on our tongue (Ps 139), with the One who understands the deepest groanings in the human heart (Ro 8:26-27). We’ve been offered the opportunity to consult with Him before we make decisions, to heed His warnings that there is danger ahead, and to be given wisdom to solve the most difficult problem or heal the most troubled relationship.

The problem is that the right answer, His answer, is often different from our answer. What we would do, what we think is right, whom we would trust is often very different from what He would do, what He thinks is right and whom He would trust in that particular situation. And that difference of opinion creates a real tension inside us. Time and again we’re forced to choose between what seems right, or at least necessary to us, and what seems right to Him. Now you would think that choice would be easy. Of course He knows the better way! But oddly, in the moment when the choice must be made it is usually not easy at all. It requires us to accept the fact that He knows something we don’t and to trust that He is telling us to do this because He loves us, that it’s for our good or at least for the good of someone else. There’s no escaping this reality. Ongoing submission is the very essence of our walk with God, and it will be forever. We must be correctable.

What just happened? (Jn 5:1-20)
On a visit to Jerusalem Jesus passed by the pool of Bethesda (“House of Mercy”) which is still located near the north gate into the temple complex. The water in those pools, which are filled by a small stream, were thought to have healing properties, so people with various illnesses would wait by the side of the pool. Five large roofs held up by stone columns had been erected to shelter those waiting beside the water. As He looked over the crowd, Jesus was drawn to help one man who had some sort of illness that left him so weak he couldn’t move quickly. He’d been in that condition for 38 years, and Jesus felt led to heal him. He asked the man if he wanted to become whole, and he replied he did but for that to happen he would need someone to wait with him until the waters were stirred and then “throw me into the swimming pool” (literal). He didn’t know who Jesus was, nor did he give any evidence that he had faith that a miracle was about to happen. Jesus did not challenge him to believe as He had the royal official in Cana (Jn 4:48-50). He simply commanded him, “Rise, pick up your mat and walk.” Immediately the man became whole. He didn’t pick up his mat and become well; he became well and then picked up his mat. And as was so often the case with Jesus, this healing took place on the Sabbath day on which the Law of Moses says people should rest, not work (Lev 23:1-3).

The man did what he was told to do. He picked up his mat and started walking, and while he was on his way some religious leaders spotted him and confronted him for working on the Sabbath. It was a serious offense if they wanted to press charges. The man’s defense was basically, “Look, I’m healed, and the person who healed me told me to do this. It’s not my fault. I’m just following orders.” They then wanted a name, not that there were lots of people running around Jerusalem performing such miracles. Surely they had already guessed who it was, but they would need specifics if they were going to convict Him in a religious trial. To their frustration the man didn’t know a name. There had been no time to ask. Jesus had lowered His head and slipped away through the crowd before the man could ask Him the question. The religious leaders let him go, at least for the moment, undoubtedly with a threat of some kind.

Later on Jesus found him in the temple. He probably went there to offer a sacrifice for his sin of “working on the Sabbath” and Jesus issued him a warning of His own. He said, “Behold, you have become whole; do not keep on sinning anymore so that something worse does not happen to you” (literal). In other words, He gave him a severe warning that He was not yet right with God. He must stop doing something he was doing, and obey God. There is no mention of what that was. Actually it doesn’t matter. What matters is the man’s response. He asked Jesus for His name and then went directly to the religious authorities and reported Him. He gave the information, so they could build a list of accusations with which they could charge Jesus for blaspheme. And I don’t believe it’s possible to assume that the man didn’t realize that he would get the Person who healed him into trouble by reporting Him. I think he knew it would. I think he was glad it did. I think he was furious that Jesus had dared to try to correct him.

Jesus’ defense (Jn 5:17-20)
Jesus defended Himself when these religious leaders accused Him of violating the Sabbath. His defense was very simple. He told them that their complaint was actually against God. He healed the man because God told Him to do so. Apart from God who could have done such a work? God had to be involved, so clearly God works on the Sabbath. He just did! He raised a man who had been sick for 38 years. So God does good for people on the Sabbath. In other words, Jesus defended Himself by revealing to them how completely the Son is submitted to the Father.

Being correctable
Being correctable, guidable, leadable, teachable, however you want to say it, is the most fundamental aspect of our relationship with God. We can’t even enter that relationship without first surrendering our rebellion at the door (Jn 3:19-20). The original relationship was broken when our ancestors chose to decide right from wrong for themselves (Ge 3:4-6), and there’s no coming back into that relationship until we reverse that decision. Walking with God means letting Him decide right from wrong on a case by case basis. But then as time passes we discover that He is training us as His children to understand why He does what He does. He opens our spiritual eyes to see the world as He sees it. He changes our attitudes until we love what He loves and hate what He hates. And as time passes we find His ways don’t seem strange anymore; they now appear reasonable and right. Saying yes to Him becomes easier and easier because we’ve grown weary of the bitter fruit that comes when we say no.

Our leader
As much as we would like to view God as our friend, He is never our equal. He always remains our leader. Only Jesus can call Him His equal (v18), but even Jesus joyfully and continually surrenders to the Father’s will. Listen to what Paul says:
“For He (the Father) has put all things in subjection under His (Jesus’) feet. But when He (the Father) says, ‘All things are put in subjection,’ it is evident that He (the Father) is excepted who put all things in subjection to Him (Jesus). When all things are subjected to Him (Jesus) then the Son Himself will also be subjected to the One (the Father) who subjected all things to Him (Jesus) so that God (the Father) may be all in all” (1Co 15:27-28).

We surrender because God the Father is the Source. All things are from and for Him. Listen:
“For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever. Amen” (Ro 11:36).
“Yet for us there is but one God, the Father, from whom are all things and we (exist) for Him; and one Lord, Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we (exist) through Him” (1Co 8:6).

This dependence on Him will never end. All life and goodness flow from Him so that any separation from Him results in death and darkness… and always will.

Every time we worship, every time we gather to hear His Word, every time we get up in the morning to read the Bible and pray until joy and hope return we are choosing to be correctable; we are acknowledging who He is and who we are. We are learning to be His children by inviting Him again to be our Father. This is what Jesus came to give us: “the right to become children of God” (Jn 1:12). That means we can have the same kind of relationship with Him as Jesus does. There is no other plan. There is no other future, nor should there be. Thank heavens the loving, pure, just, all-wise God will be our Father forever.

Wonderful and terrible
God has given each of us a gift that is both wonderful and terrible: a will that is able to surrender or rebel. Each of us is able to recognize that God is greater than we are and let Him correct us. Or we can be like the man beside the pool of Bethesda. We can choose to stay in control; we can refuse to let God lead; we can resent Him when He tells us to stop sinning. It’s possible to stay uncorrectable until it’s too late. And that would be terrible.

1) Have you noticed that when you worship or spend time in prayer it gets easier to say yes to God? Have you been able to surrender to Him something you were holding onto? If so, tell us about it, if it’s not too personal.
2) Describe a time when God’s will seemed “crazy” to you, but it worked.  

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