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Jamie Johnson
2 September 2012

A Man, A Messiah, A Mat, A Message

NOTE: This is a written abridged version of the message I delivered to a group of residents at Kings Daughters Community Health & Rehabilitation Center on September 2, 2012.

During some recent quite times, I journeyed through John 5:1-11, which states the following (NASB):

After these things there was a feast of the Jews, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem.

Now there is in Jerusalem by the sheep gate a pool, which is called in Hebrew Bethesda, having five porticoes. In these lay a multitude of those who were sick, blind, lame, and withered, waiting for the moving of the waters; for an angel of the Lord went down at certain seasons into the pool and stirred up the water; whoever then first, after the stirring up of the water, stepped in was made well from whatever disease with which he was afflicted. A man was there who had been ill for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him lying there, and knew that he had already been a long time in that condition, He said to him, "Do you wish to get well?" The sick man answered Him, "Sir, I have no man to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up, but while I am coming, another steps down before me." Jesus said to him, "Get up, pick up your pallet and walk." Immediately the man became well, and picked up his pallet and began to walk.

Now it was the Sabbath on that day. So the Jews were saying to the man who was cured, "It is the Sabbath, and it is not permissible for you to carry your pallet." But he answered them, "He who made me well was the one who said to me, 'Pick up your pallet and walk.'"

There are multiple characters in this passage. There is the ill man on the mat. There is Jesus. There are those who pass the man by to get healed at the pool. There is Jesus. There are the Jews. With whom do you identify?

I must admit that initially, I identified with those who passed by, seeking to get healed at the pool on their own, passing by the man on the mat. I felt like I had not suffered my entire life and I could walk. So, I must be them, not the man on the mat. I certainly could not be that man. I haven't been disabled my entire life.

However, upon reviewing the passage again, I ended up turning to John 15 where Jesus says the following in verse 5 (NASB): "I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing." This made me consider what the passage in John 5 means regarding our condition and need for Jesus. Apart from Jesus I can do nothing. Apart from Jesus, the man on the mat would not have been healed. There is no evidence that the persons who passed by to the pool were healed. I thought about the hymn I Need Thee Every Hour. We all do. Those who do not know Him certainly need Him and those who know Him need Him. I need Him every moment. Lamentations 3:22-23 states that His mercies are new every morning. I need them every morning.

Jesus asked a curious question of the man on the mat; that is, if he wanted to get well. Can we save ourselves? Can a plant grow without the sun or without the soil or without water? Can we grow in isolation? Can we walk the Christian life successfully alone? The answer to all those questions is a resounding "No." We cannot do it on our own. In Deuteronomy 8, Scripture reminds us in verse 3 that man does not live on bread alone, but on every Word that proceeds from the mouth of God followed by reminders to remember the Lord. I think about the Israelites and manna, the bread from Heaven, how the Lord provided just enough. It wasn't to hoard and store up, which would result in its spoiling. Rather, there was just enough for each day, just like His mercies. We need Him each day and He will provide. We need to remember the Lord and His provision for each moment.

In our house, we started a new Christmas tradition in asking what we could give or give up to Jesus in the upcoming year. Jesus told the man on the mat to pick up his mat and walk. The man had to give up his routine, perhaps even his doubts that he would ever walk, and pick up his mat (on the Sabbath and offend the Jews). He had to trust Jesus! What are you willing to do? What are you willing to give up for Jesus? Are you willing to give up your doubts and trust Him?

We are all the man on the mat. We need Jesus. He gave up His throne for you. We are marred by the results of sin, some personal, but certainly by the brokenness of the world brought about by original sin. We are disabled. However, by Jesus' perfect work alone - His perfect life so He could be a perfect sacrifice, taking your sins to the cross, putting them to death, being buried, and then raising again granting the hope of new life and His righteousness being applied to you - is how one is saved.

We don't need a pool and we cannot get to healing on our own. We need Jesus. Do you trust Him?

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