Don't let Anything Stop Your Blessing
Unless you have been living in some far away place, it is clear that we are living in troubled times. You may not be effected by the mortgage crisis, but you certainly are effected in the areas of credit availability, rising energy costs, rising food prices, rising medical costs, increasing educational costs, shrinking employment prospects, and other external events that directly or indirectly causes you to think about how to handle your particular circumstances and maintain your quality of life. It would be out of human character to deny that you experience some fears, some doubts, maybe some despair. Perhaps you are feeling a sense of powerlessness or you may be just weary in spirit. As we look at today's text, we witness a miracle performed by Jesus toward a man who was bound and limited by his physical disability and handicap, but nevertheless was blessed because he did not allow his circumstance to hinder him from receiving his blessing.
This miracle occurs in the second year of Jesus' ministry. At this time Jesus was in Jerusalem to celebrate a Jewish feast. It was at the time when Jesus was becoming increasingly popular with the people. The text tells us that, "His fame went throughout the land." The word was spreading that there was a man in town unlike any other man they had ever heard of before. The people knew of John the Baptist, but he was unlike John. Many of them heard how Jesus turned water into wine at a wedding feast in Cana of Galilee. Some heard how he cleansed the temple of money changers. Many of them heard about the great revival that happened in Samaria after Jesus ministered to a woman at a well. Jesus' fame spread more after He healed a nobleman's son, healed a leper and healed a paralytic. The people heard how Jesus delivered a man believed to be crazy, but was in fact, possessed with demons. [And] Many heard how Jesus taught in the synagogues and preached the gospel of the Kingdom of God with a power and authority like no other teacher or prophet before Him. [And] It was at one of the entrances into Jerusalem, at a pool called Bethesda, that an invalid man, bound by his life's situation, received his blessing (e.g. debt, relationships, dead end jobs, etc.). Just like this man, we often find ourselves in circumstances and situations that seem to overwhelm us. You may feel handicapped and disabled by your inability to cope with your situation like you want to or need to. [But] Irregardless of his circumstance, this man was blessed because he did not allow his circumstance to hinder him from receiving his blessing. [And] Today I say to you that are going through, don't let anything stop you from getting your blessing. The storms of life may be raging around you, but when the storm is over, God has a blessing waiting for you. Things may bleak and a dark cloud may seem like it's always hanging over you life, but behind that darkness God, Jehovah Shalom, has a blessing waiting you. Times may be oppressive for you as you watch others around you prosper, but God, Jehovah Jireh, has a blessing waiting just for you that will provide for your need and lift you up from under your oppression. You may be suffering in your body, and the pain and discomfort have you feeling low in you spirit, but God, Jehovah Rapha, has a healing waiting for you. If God has a blessing waiting for you, what is hindering you from receiving you blessing? Let's look at the man in the text and through his expereince and see the types of things that could have stopped him from his blessings, yet he was not denied God's grace or his blessing.
vv.2-4: The text tells us that the disabled, the invalid, and the sick gathered at Bethesda waiting for the water to be agitated. They believed that an angel from God was the cause of the water's movement and the first person in the water would be healed. Whether an angel actually caused the water to move or it moved as a result of some other cause, God allowed the water to have a supernatural virtue to heal. It is interesting to noted that the handicapped mentioned were people that were least likely to be able to help themselves into the water without help. But the pool provided them hope. This hope was tied to the name "Bethesda", which means "house of mercy" or "house of grace." (illust: overcome by circumstances and find way to church). Saints (you) should always come to church looking for and expecting a blessing for God!
Note in verse 3 that these people were at the "house of mercy" for and looking for a particular external action to occur. Many saints are waiting for some visible evidence that God is moving on their behalf and absent such evidence their faith waivers (illus.: looking for signs and wonders; something dramatic; impatient). We walk by faith and not by sight!
The most important thing to note in this passage is these people did not allow their situation to stop mthem from seeking the blessing. They didn't allow their handicapp to be an excuse not to expect a blessing. This is important because many times we allow our circumstance and our situation to blind us to the reality that God is there with us in the worst of times. And many times we think because God isn't working fast enough for us, we allow ourselves to get angry and frustrated with God. Then your blindness becomes so complete that you see nothing but defeat and failure. You no longer see yourself worthy of a blessing and you allow yourself to become crippled by putting more faith in men, and systems, and institutions that deny the reality of the power of God. You listen to people that claim they have your interest at heart, but they only want to be in your business and when your blessing comes, they want to take the credit. We allow ourselves to become paralyzed by fear and doubt. We may turn to substances that effectively drain us of our sensibilities where you are no longer able to function in a rational, much less, a spiritual manner. You paralyze yourself by believing that the unreal state of being is better than having to face the reality of your circumstance. But no matter what you allow to become your handicap, God has a blessing for you that will open your eyes and let you see His purpose for your life. That God has a blessing waiting for you that will strengthen your faith so that you can stand strong while you are going through your suffering. God has a blessing for you that will loose you from the fears and doubts that keep you paralyzed and spiritually immobile.
When you receive God's blessing, you will understand that your present suffering is only for a moment and is not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in you. Paul said that, "...our light affliction, which is for a moment, works for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory"(2 Cor.4:7). Be assured that God has a blessing for you if you don't let anything stop you from getting it. Its important for you to understand that God will test your faith through your circumstances before he will allow you to receive your blessing.
v.v.5-9: The text tells us that this man had been infirmed for 38 years. Jesus comes to the pool, Jesus sees this man and knowing his condition, challenged his faith by asking him if he wanted to he made well. Jesus also knows your circumstance and will challenge your faith. The man offers Jesus a reason why he could not be healed which was that he was relying on others to help him to the pool. This statement tells us how the man felt about himself and how he viewed his condition. For 38 years he was dependent on others to meet his needs. His psychology was one of dependence. But his dependency on others was just as crippling than his infirmity. Yet he never lost his hope of deliverance, but his faith in and need for others was greater than his faith in God. Jesus, out of compassion, out of his goodness and out of his grace speaks to the man’s condition. “Rise, take up your bed, and walk.” Because the man obeyed, immediately he was redeemed and made whole. His blessing was a result of his act of faith in Jesus and obedience to His word.
Believe that God’s grace is extended to you
Seek God’s guidance through prayer
Focus on Christ while you wait for you answer
Exercise faith through obedience to receive your blessing